Review and interviews by Seabelo Morule
On the eve of the launch event for Ballantine’s True Music Series, I found myself at the event in Pretoria where I managed to get some inside info about the collaborative series from Ballantine’s Brand Manager Simone Smith as well as tonight’s line-up being Kid Fonque, Jullian Gomez, FKA Mash and British producer and DJ, Atjazz.
Ballantine’s, as a brand, is constantly seeking uniqueness. Whether it be providing a unique event experience through the True Music Series or a unique visual experience with their vivid, bold limited edition Ballantine’s gift box, designed by the unique graffiti/graphic artist, Felipe Pantone. The brand also seeks out uniqueness in the form of artists who they are committed to supporting. Pantone is an example of an artist who is pioneering in his field. The same is to be said of Kid Fonque.
Enter the True Music Series. A collaborative series of unique pioneers in their respective fields. Felipe Pantone; the Argentinian-born graffiti artist whose graphics are bold, contrasts are strong and colours are vivid. His designs have a strange ability to almost bring music to life. Kid Fonque is a leading pioneer in the South African Music scene. His radio show on 5fm and his monthly, Kid Fonque Presents, event are focused at driving music that is both new and independent as well as uplifting artists who are on the brink of breaking through to be the next big thing. Then there is the brand- Ballantine’s. Determined to provide a unique event experience that will leave a lasting impression.
The Series comes together like this:
1 ) Felipe Pantone created artwork exclusively for True Music Series. He was inspired by musical soundwaves, club culture and the processes of recording and production.
2 ) At each True Music Series event, his artwork is connected or linked to processors which react to sound.
3 ) Kid Fonque curates a fresh and cutting edge line up of DJ/producers for the event.
4) Event goers and the DJ’s will then see what the music they are playing might look like in the way it plays out visually with Pantone’s sound reactive artwork. And better yet, everyone else can also watch how this amazing collaboration plays out because all the events will be streamed live.
When speaking to Simone Smith about collaborations and the importance of global collaborations for South Africa, she speaks about the importance of collaborations and how events such as these; with the global reach through live streaming and the concept that really stands out; the rest of the world has an opportunity to see what South African musicians are doing. “People are intrigued.” She says.
The concept and creative direction behind merging Felipe Pantone and the True Music Series for a South African market were also collaborative. “The collaboration with Ballantine’s and Kid Fonque started out organically,” Simone says and goes on to say that he was instrumental in the way the series rolled out.
Simone tells me that for Ballantine’s it is “extremely important for them to be connected to what’s happening on the ground. Yes, we are in the business of selling whisky but beyond that we want to have something that leaves a lasting impression, where we are actually committed to the scene; where we are committed to what people are doing within music and making sure that we are supporting artists on that level through various platforms like the True Music Series.”
When speaking the guys who are playing at tonight’s launch event, Atjazz shares an interesting concept regarding collaborations between musicians such as themselves, who form part of an eco-structure of sorts.
“This is an eco-system, and every single one of us here is part of it and without that person there, with the camera, without Simone, without you, without Alan, without Stu that’s come all the way from England today with me, something won’t work. It’s the coming together of things that make things happen,” he says.
This eco-system is now growing wider to include the likes of brands, graffiti artists, DJ’s and producers all forming a network which uplifts one another. The True Music Series will next be in Port Elizabeth on 21 December and culminates in Cape Town in March 2019. Tickets available here.
BOILER ROOM X BALLANTINE PRESENTS #TRUEMUSICAFRICA
The following week, 5 December, saw me back in Pretoria, this time for the Boiler Room X Ballantine Presents #TrueMusicAfrica event.
I had the opportunity to speak to Lamiez Holworthy, one of the artists on tonight’s line-up. Lamiez learnt to DJ when she was 17 years old. Lamiez explains how it is thanks to her mom that she learnt how to mix. “She sat me down and said, ‘You’ve always loved music so whilst I get myself together, and I promise I’m gonna send you to school; why don’t you just keep yourself busy by learning how to DJ coz I think that you would be amazing at it.’ I learnt how to DJ. Friends taught me. And my mom started managing me. And, all these years later, I think its safe to say that I’m one of the dopest DJ’s in South Africa.”
It would certainly appear to be that way. Lamiez is one of the presenters of Mzanzi’s biggest music show, SABC 1’s Live Amp. She is playing at tonight’s event which is huge. Boiler Room being the biggest international platform and Ballantine’s a world-class, international brand. How does she feel about being part of such a collaboration?
“It’s a blessing on its own,” she says, “Being headhunted for Boiler Room and Ballantine’s. I mean, we have such amazing talent here in South Africa and the fact that they chose me out of thousands of people they could have chosen, says a lot.” Working with Ballantine’s in the future is something this unique artist would love to do. She feels that her brand fits perfectly with that of Ballantine’s and that she would make “the perfect ambassador, like the perfect, female South African ambassador” for the brand.
Lamiez is very vocal about how much Ballantine’s has contributed and does contribute to the music scene in our country. “The world needs more brands like Ballantine’s,” she says. The reason she feels this way is down to the fact that the brand supports and provides a platform for young, up and coming artists who are still everyday people, to showcase their talent. Something like the Boiler Room Ballantine’s True Music Series also provides the opportunity for Lamiez to take her story beyond South Africa and beyond Africa. People live-streaming the event from around the world will be able to see “Lamiez Holworthy in her element without having to come to the event,” she says.
On asked how Lamiez stays true to herself she credits her mom for keeping her grounded and then goes on to point out that she perceives herself as quite different from what she says, “the perfect lady should look like” and points out her crazy hairstyle and a full sleeve tattoo on her arm. Yet, she makes no apologies for being who she is and believes that young people “ need a Lamiez to show them that it is okay to be different. It is okay to be yourself, and flaws and all, you are enough. And that on its own, is enough to keep me grounded. Enough to show me, I’m enough. That is enough to keep me true to myself.”
Another artist who featured on the line-up and who gave me some of his time was the House Music legend, Oskido. He is a stalwart of the scene and has always been about giving opportunities to up-and-coming artists who are trying to break into the scene. His fulfilment comes from seeing the talent that he has helped, grow on to become successful. “My success is measured through all the people I work with and put them on this platform and then they become superstars and are able to feed their families and feed their kids and all that.” He says.
Oskido’s view on what the Ballantine’s and Boiler Room True Music Africa Series contributes to the local scene? He feels the feels that it’s a great opportunity for the world to recognise what our country is doing and what it has to offer in terms of talent.
I was fortunate to be able to speak to Josh McCarthy from Ballantine’s and Svet Lapcheva from Boiler Room, about how the two brands merged together. Josh tells me that the brand relationship is actually 4 years old. And according to Svet, South Africa has been doing new and crazy stuff for decades which it seems the rest of the world can’t get enough of. “It’s nothing new that the local music scene here is interesting,” Svet says. In relation to that, she goes on to say that the likes of Oskido and Kat Le Kat are masters in their fields and that Boiler Room, as a brand, “feel honoured that they have said yes to us. It gives us an opportunity to share the dance floor with them.”
Josh shared some of what Ballantine’s will be doing at the beginning of 2019. In January, look out for a documentary looking into the history of the house music scene in Pretoria. Then, in March, True Music Africa Series travels to Ghana, so be sure to catch the live stream of the event. Watch all the live sets from Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music Africa: Pretoria right here.