‘We’re taking tropes of South African music and then remodelling them with a contemporary electronic style, so it’s got a unique sound to it.’
What does the project mean to DJ InviZAble?
NICK: One of the most important things that it means to me as an artist is that I get to discuss the question around identity. A masked character doesn’t exude a descriptive identity, racially, and in terms of gender and philosophical orientation, so that leaves the room wide open for interpretation, which is really important, particularly when trying to reimagine a futuristic perspective of what South African identity is.
At the moment, I see from a creative level that South Africa is dealing with an identity crisis and that’s because of its fractured past and I guess because of its diversity.
It leaves the door open for interpretation, which is really important. In a situation where a culture is trying to define itself, which is where South Africa is right now, it’s important to have that freedom of expression and to allow these new ideas to emerge. I guess that’s where I get the motivation from.
One of the biggest challenges we face in SA is still racial segregation. It also has an economic aspect to it which is one of the hardest things to overcome in order to create a more inclusive society. I guess that’s why, for example, the gig we did recently was free. I don’t want there to be any kind of price barrier for someone to experience this. I’d rather they walk away with something that they can remember, instead of trying to create an exclusive niche out of it.
JON: Just to add to DJ InviZAble’s interpretation of identity… something we all feel very strongly about is that South Africa in the last two to three years has taken massive strides. You see the rise of qgom and that kwaito and trap kind of identity. But it’s still inherently European or American in origin. It has been a case of people emulating.
Among us Africans there’s a feeling that if we create our own identity and do something ourselves, we are inherently inferior to these Western standards and styles. But South Africa is moving towards creating its own identity. You can also see that Europeans are co-opting African culture in the form of afro-house. DJs from Berlin and London are playing afro-house – and they’ve never even been to Africa! We come from Cape Town where the segregation is still very real… Joburg is a completely different story. Cape Town – which is very white, very old money and very conservative, and where the best spaces in the city are reserved for wealthy people – has now transitioned from a racial thing to an economic form of classism.
We’ve got a government at the moment that doesn’t give a damn about poor people. By engaging in this style of music and bringing the sounds of the township into the music, we are trying to make sure that we bridge that gap in some way.
The frontwoman of InviZAble, Yolanda Fyrus, comes from Khayelitsha. She’s like one of the mayors of Khayelitsha (laughs) and she’s a sangoma. When we were recording the album, we would chat about her dreams the night before and then the music came out reflecting that. So hopefully, we’ve got the backing of the ancestors.
This project and the understanding of this project and the inclusion of different elements of African culture, from beyond South Africa, has been very important. Just after the XiFi album comes out, we’ve got some of SA’s top producers remixing the album. We’re going to launch a remix album in the next two months which will include the likes of RMBO from BLK JKS, Thandi Draai, Kusasa, Jackie Queens, Kevin Ribbans, Matthew Loots and Cornelius, who’s been killing it in Berlin with the Red Bull guys. Then we’ve got some guys overseas who are going to be jumping on the project. We’re hoping to launch this album in Johannesburg. We had quite a successful exhibition at the Everard Read Gallery in Cape Town, and they’re open to us exhibiting at their Joburg gallery now.