Cape Town a venue for avant-garde music

2014-02-19 15:13

Famous for decades for its jazz scene, Cape Town is starting to stand out for its electronic music as lovers of the aural avant-garde establish the southern tip of Africa as a centre of innovation, pushing the boundaries of popular sound.

Building on a foundation of electronic African genres such as kwaito and Angolan kuduro dance rhythms, but accentuating them with an international flavour, hundreds of DJs have put down roots in the city, boosting its reputation as an upstart rival to such established urban music hotbeds as London, Berlin and New York.

The scene’s big annual party – the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival – is now in its third year. Last week, it drew thousands of enthusiasts and DJs from around the world keen to soak up the sounds in the African summer sunshine and under the gaze of Table Mountain.

Local television student Khosi Khumalo (21) said: “I came for the acts. The organisers always go above and beyond to get unique acts so it’s not like any other festival. Electronic music is upbeat and gets you going. As South Africans, we appreciate music we can move to.”

The diverse crowd of partygoers spent three days dancing to other-worldly tunes of local and international pioneers in the electronic music industry in the city’s historic main square, Grand Parade and railway station.

Londoner Paul Gunaratnam (30), a former DJ and electronic music aficionado said: “Cape Town’s electronic music scene is very diverse. It has an eclectic instrumental sound that is different to anything I’ve heard.”

Festival organiser Duncan Ringrose, who has been a part of the Cape Town electronic music scene for 15 years, believes the event stands out because it is about innovation and sophistication as much as having a party.

“We’ve always had the short end of the cultural stick because we’re perceived as ravers, but people are starting to see the festival for its intentions. You need to look at it holistically. This is something that can sustain people and can give them vision and hope,” he said.

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