If you were to ask me “which local DJ in has gained the most popularity over the last year?,” it’s hard to look much further than the lovely Margaret Westergreen, aka Lady M. From CTEMF to Kinky Disco, Make-Believe to Utopia Festival; Lady M has been invited to bring her melodic, bass-driven deep house and tech blend to the biggest and best events in Cape Town, and by the time this is published she’ll be back in Europe for the second time.
She recently took some time out of her extremely busy schedule to have a chat with MCBN just before she left; here’s what she had to say;
MCBN: Firstly Margaret, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. We know you’re an extremely busy lady at the moment and we’re rather grateful you managed to fit this in. For starters, what made you want to become a DJ and how did you get into it?
Lady M: It’s something that kind of happened on its own through following my passion for electronic music as a teenager. I moved to Cape Town when I was 16 and started going out and following certain DJs that I enjoyed and meeting people in the industry. One thing led to another and I was offered DJ lessons from Peter Abrahams which I happily took on and things happened from there.
MCBN: When you started, did you go straight into tech and deep-house or were there other genres that you experimented with?
Lady M: Yes I started mixing deep house on vinyl and developed my sound from there. Initially I did more chilled, background sets in cocktail bars and slowly built up my confidence and skills. Today I play mostly club and festival gigs and can go more techy and push the tempo a bit more depending on the set. I’ve always kept it four to the floor though.
MCBN: Who are your top three artists / influences (at the moment or in general)?
Lady M: That’s a tough question. If I think of my favourite act I saw last year at a festival in Europe, Art Department, really did it for me. A female artist in electronic music I have always followed is Fever Ray. Locally, in terms of DJ performance and production skills, I would go with Floyd Lavine.
MCBN: Last year you went to Berlin and Amsterdam and played some gigs over there; tell us a little bit about your experiences there? How do the clubs, parties and crowds you played at/to compare to those here?
Lady M: I played one club gig and 2 bar gigs. Amsterdam seems more social, vibrant and tech house orientated where Berlin’s scene seemed more serious, darker and more deep house and techno orientated.
Crowds are far more culturally diverse over there than in SA, with people of many different nationalities and backgrounds all under one roof. Music is taken seriously and the quality of delivery and production is top class. My gigs were fairly small but I did go to a few different festivals and clubs as a party-goer and was blown away by the professionalism and quality of sound, from the systems that were used (mostly custom Funktion 1 rigs) and to the high quality of music that was being played. The biggest contrast was the number of people available for events, Europe’s market is massive and a ‘small’ festival attracts 20 000 people.
MCBN: Now we’re only in June and already 2013 has been incredible for you, you’ve played some pretty big gigs. CTEMF, Kinky Disco, Make-Believe, Swedish House Mafia, Playtime in Paradise; the list goes on. Which ones have stood out / been your favourite?
Lady M: Hmmm. I would say all the ones you have mentioned have been really special! CTEMF stands out as an artistic milestone for me as I played out all my own stuff for the first time which made up 40 minutes of my set. The Fuse and Butterbox events I’ve played at have also been good. I truly have enjoyed them all and am grateful for the opportunity to have played at these events!
MCBN: In recent times you’ve got into producing and earlier this year released your first EP, titled Solitude. Personally I think it’s really, really good, how has the wider response been though? Has it been as positive?
Lady M: I studied Advanced Music Production about 3 years ago and it’s been a fun and challenging process to get to my first release. I’ve had great positive feedback on the EP, especially with the track ‘A Feeling’, which I’ve heard being played out on the town by fellow artists. There were also some cool comments on the promo sheet from various people internationally which was encouraging so I’m happy with the way things have gone for it.
MCBN: Another one of your recent releases was the collaboration with Marcia Alvez, On the Wind; tell us a little bit about the production of that track? Was that the first time you’ve worked with a vocalist?
Lady M: Yes it’s my first collaboration and vocal release. I produced the track in Cubase some months ago with the idea of doing a vocal on it but also at that point undecided. When I heard Marcia perform live I was sold, we met up for a creative session and she nailed it first time around. We recorded at the Red Bull Studios and everything came together in the post production. We released 3 versions of the track; an original mix, an extended dub and a radio-edit, to cater for its scope as an underground dancefloor pounder to a classy vocal track for radio.
MCBN: On the Wind was accompanied by a rather slick music video. Where was it filmed? How long did filming take? What was it like to be involved?
Lady M: It was the first time I was doing something like this so it was exciting to experience a new creative avenue. It was also a joint effort with some close friends which made it extra special. The video consists of various gig footage from the last few months and also footage of Marcia singing which we arranged to shoot one evening at Chukkachurri in Greenpoint.
MCBN: I know it’s only been a month or so since then, but have you got any up-coming releases planned? When can we expect to next hear some fresh new Lady M tunes?
Lady M: I’ve got a few things in the pipeline…I’ve done 2 remixes for local label Sleepwalker that will be coming out in the next few weeks, I’ve got another vocal single ‘Dark Matter Feat. Kennifer’ scheduled for release with Triplefire Music at the end of July and then the dub versions of the Solitude EP later in the year with a remix or two. I’m also busy working on some new material for Nomadiq Music.
MCBN: I know you’re a bit more involved than just playing and making the music. If I’m not mistaken you helped put together Triplefire Music’s first event at Chukkachurri last month, and have also started your own record label, Magique Music. How have those ventures been? What do you have planned for the future?
Lady M: That’s right, I’m assisting in running events for Triplefire Music and focusing predominantly on label nights to promote the label’s sound and local artists signed to it. The night at Chukka was a great success with many happy dancers and a power set up from Kilowatt AV which made it a quality night and one that was unique to the venue. Our next event will be at Fiction on the 24th August and we will be incorporating more live elements into the DJ sets. Future plans for the label is to set up a professional studio at new premises in Cape Town and launch a full Triplefire Live Show which we can tour with. We have also recently been endorsed by Akai which is very exciting and we looking forward to growing our relationship with them.
My label ‘Magique Music’ is ready to go. At the moment it’s something I work on in the background of things so I’m still sourcing the right sound and finalizing a release catalogue. I want to explore the slower, moody and more experimental realm of electronica and offer a platform for intelligent music from the more obscurely creative. I should have its first release out in the next few months.
So with the above mentioned running ahead full force alongside gigs and production, I’ve pretty much got my hands full! Next year I’m hoping to set up a little hideaway spot in the Seychelles which I can run away to for a few months of the year 😉
MCBN: Now something I know you must be extremely excited about is your upcoming trip to Europe. Where are you going? Where are you playing? What’s the story?
Lady M: I will be heading to Amsterdam, Ibiza, Cologne and Berlin for just under 2 months.
I’m playing in Ibiza with fellow DJ Claudia Lovisa who lives there and who was here in town over this past summer season. She’s got a few things lined up for us. I’m also playing in Berlin at Trust Bar, a fairly new nightclub.
After my trip last year I decided I must head over there every winter. Europe provides an incredible sonic adventure and musical education from record stores to massive festivals. It’s good to push yourself out of your own bubble and allow a new perspective. There’s also so much history, art and street culture to be appreciated.
MCBN: You’ve been active in the Cape Town club / dance scene for nearly 10 years now, what changes have you noticed during that time?
Lady M: It seems to have done a full circle musically with regards to house and techno music and the ‘underground’ scene. Things have that same feeling again that was there 10 years ago. It’s really an exciting time for artists with this new found energy and noticeable explosion in the scene. I suppose at some point saturation is inevitable but as always the true pioneers will push through.
MCBN: Now Margaret, we can’t end our interview without the critically acclaimed “would you rather” question. So, Lady M, would you rather have bright pink and yellow hair OR have “MAGGIE” tattooed on your forehead?
Lady M: Hahahaha! I would go with bright pink and yellow hair thanks.