Langa DJs for Glastonbury Festival

| Zethu Gqola
Afro house DJ/Producer Fosta. Photot by Eldon Van Aswegen.

Two DJs from Cape Town’s Langa Township have been selected as part of the world famous Glastonbury Festival line-up for 2014. It is a great sign for aspiring musicians in townships across South Africa. DJ Fosta and Thibo Tazz discuss what is about to be the biggest moment of their music careers.

Glastonbury Festival in the UK is one of the biggest music and contemporary performing arts events on the international calendar. This year it takes place from 25 to 29 June.

Glastonbury has long supported African music, but taking musicians from the township and putting them on one of the world’s biggest stages is a first. DJ Fosta and Thibo Tazz, who live just down the road from each other in Langa, are set to bring their Afro house beats to the famous blues stage, which has seen the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jay Z, Rihanna and many more.

Last week Bridges for Music, who helped arrange the pairing, announced that the two DJs had been selected, and will be funded by the British Council’s Connect ZA scheme as well as the Department of Arts and Culture. These organizations aim to build cultural connections between young people in South Africa and the United Kingdom.

DJ Fosta aka Thulani Headman had never heard of Glastonbury before being asked to play at the festival. Since the announcement last week, he says, it has created many other big gig opportunities for him.

Fosta, who was struggling to make ends meet last year, almost giving up on music, said, “I’m honoured to have been given this opportunity to represent my country on such a big platform, and to showcase my talent to an international audience. I hope that this opens more doors for future SA talent. This will also assist us in empowering the youth.”

Headman, who describes music as representing his lifestyle and a further expression of himself and his surroundings, is also the proud owner of his own record label, 021 Records, which signs up-and-coming artists in Langa. It focuses on house, hip hop and kwaito.

“Kids in the township get into the wrong types of things and they don’t have role models – only the people they see on TV,” he says. “I want them so see that anything is possible if you believe in it. The road won’t be easy, but if you know what you want you must always work hard towards getting it. It’s been more than 15 years since I started DJ-ing, yet I feel like it’s only the beginning. All those years [of struggle] feel like they’d been preparing me for now.”

DJ Fosta is known around the Langa music circuit for his original and hypnotic deep house beats that are accompanied by live vocals. “At Glastonbury I plan on playing tracks that I’ve produced as well as mixing songs from local and international producers from known labels. I believe that we’ve been given this time to showcase South African talent and our taste in music as a whole. Mixing international tracks with local ones will help our music become more recognisable abroad,” he says.

Fosta played at last year’s Synergy Live and says that DJs in townships are often overlooked or still placed as supporting acts, performing for very low fees. “There’s a lack of respect from [local] promoters and others in the industry,” he adds. He hopes that his trip overseas will change that mindset and encourage event organisers to place a good DJ from the township as a headlining act.

Thibo Tazz aka Thabo Rasenyalo will play alongside Fosta at the festival, showcasing his deep house sets that contain soulful vocals and minimal tech. He says that he’s not “usually into festivals” but understands their importance on the global music scene.

Before being asked to perform at Glastonbury, he was only vaguely familiar with the festival. “The first thing that caught my attention was that the tickets to Glastonbury sell out within the first hour, so I thought to myself that it must be good.”

Performing on a stage of such magnitude has long been a dream of his. Rasenyalo says that when he was young he used to sneak out of school to go to cultural events, aspiring to one day become a musician. “Not having resources says we cannot get to the next level,” he says.

He does however believe that the music workshops hosted by Bridges for Music in townships has shifted people’s thinking.

“I would like to expand my relationships abroad with this trip to Glastonbury Festival and use it as leverage to broaden my reach, not only as a DJ, but as a producer and contributor to the music scene in SA and other parts of the world,” says Rasenyalo.

“At the festival I’d like to play both my own tracks as well as local music that I have grown to love and appreciate and I am passionate about. South African artists are making world class music that needs to be shown off on a global scale. The world seems to be loving the sound of our country because we as DJs have become ambassadors of the [house music] movement,” he adds.

Thibo Tazz hopes to meet a few famous and legendary DJs during his time abroad, which he’d like to work with on remixes and original tracks.

Thibo Tazz hopes that his and Fosta’s achievement will send a message to not only the young aspiring musicians of Langa, but of SA in general – to continue pursuing what they are passionate about. He firmly believes that the youth need to work hard in everything that they do and make sure that their work speaks volumes through its quality.

“Be consistent in your work, make contacts in this industry and take such experiences as ours and use them as a point of reference so that you have something to aim for and excel beyond,” he advises.

Both of these DJs have worked hard to secure a spot at such a prestigious event. Fosta has previously performed alongside Black Coffee, Zonke, Bucie, Kent, Culoe de Song, Skrillex and more. He is also part of DJ/production duo Life Rhythms with Scottish DJ Chris Devilin. They both spent time recording their now-hit song ‘Mama’ at the Redbull Studios in August 2013. Thibo Tazz is part of the Redbull Studios Best of 2013 crew. He is also an ambassador for deep, dark Afro house. His music is known for its throbbing African-style drum lines and subversive brooding sounds. In 2008, he was selected to participate at the Redbull Music Academy in Barcelona, and 2012 saw him curate a track for Soul Candi’s high selling series Deep House Chronicles 8.

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TOPICS:  Arts and culture

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