South Africa is very much a budding flower, a basket of potential, in part thanks to the international impact from artists like Black Coffee, but also thanks to a sincere passion at a grass roots level.
One emerging talent who’s spearheading the countries swift rise is Ryan Murgatroyd, having already released dozens of tracks on Berlin based label Get Physical and heading up his own Swoon imprint, is pushing the pace on the dancefloor.
Next up from Ryan is a remix of Arm In Arm’s Warrior Spirit, coming via Book Shade’s Blaufield Music imprint. Chatting with him we got to talking about the new edit, the growth of South African dance music, and his relationship with Get Physical.
Hi Ryan, we’ve been enjoying your new remix for Arm In Arm and Blaufield, how did you approach the project when you got the parts?
Hey, thanks guys! It’s a very delicate original, so I of course wanted to keep some of the essence of the original but make the mood a bit darker and more subversive. I thought the lead vocal was great in that slightly more brooding context and of course it makes it more playable for me as a DJ.
When remixing in general, how much do you let the original inspire you? Do you try to make it an edit of the original, or a completely new track?
It’s tough because you want to impress everyone haha, so I often do end up making entire new tracks when I remix. I think as the years roll on and I gain more experience, I’m finding a sweet spot between honouring the essence, tone and feeling of the original but also really pushing the boundaries in terms of making it sound unique and like one of mine.
I like to think I make my remixes more epic and emotive than the originals most of the time. What I do focus on though is musicality! Working out the chord and melodic structure of the original, means that I can re-voice it or even re-write the chord structure, but I have to understand where the original composers head was at.
If you could officially remix one track, any track, which would you choose?
Hahaha, the guys from Booka know I want to do Mandarin Girl so badly! I’ll never stop annoying them until they give me those parts!
Let’s talk about Get Physical, the home of most of your productions, you must have a pretty special relationship with the team by now?
Yeah Roland got involved in my career many years ago and in a lot of ways, his support made me believe that I might have a real future in the European electronic music scene. There were a lot of things that were not right about my strategy, my approach to my career, and he pointed it out because he had faith in the music. So I owe him and the team a lot.
They signed ‘Ikalimba’ in 2014, which is still being played by Solomun on the regular! So it was a defining moment for me! Since then we’ve done another 10 or so records so it’s a great relationship. Also they aggregate for Swoon, my own label, so I basically live there.
And you’re born, bred and based in South Africa, you must be happy with the strides your countries electronic music scene has made in the past ten years?
It’s really taking off here now, like I believe South Africa will be one of the top 5 electronic music destinations in the world really soon. That’s top to bottom, from the quality of the festivals, the beautiful locations we have for unique parties, the insane amount of talent in terms of music making, electronic producers, DJs and even live acts, and singers coming onto the electronic music scene. Right now it’s crazy.
Of course Black Coffee’s astronomical rise to superstardom is a big factor, but there are so many other local artists making waves right now, Culoe de Song, Kususa, Shimza, myself and a whole load of fresh talent that I see everyday.
What are the biggest differences you’ve noticed between South Africa’s scene, and places like Germany, Spain and France?
Phew… I guess that South Africa is still a bit conservative in a large sense. So yeah the scene is big but the real underground scene is still on the cultural fringe. I feel like in Berlin and Amsterdam, for example, house music is a widely recognised cultural phenomenon and the city gets behind it.
For example, in Barcelona during Sonar the entire city becomes a shrine to music culture and I love that! So I guess our next step is to integrate electronic music into our culture a bit more. That being said, the other difference is that Africans know how to party! There is just a raw energy here and you feel it on the streets and in the clubs.
And what local talents do you think are going to make noise in the coming years?
Aero Manyelo! I’m about to release an EP of his on Swoon recordings, with a sneaky remix from myself. I also really enjoy music from Thor Rixon, Leeu, Kususa and FKA Mash, all of whom I think have great records and big years ahead.
Lastly, before we go, what’s your favourite memory from the 2010’s?
Phew there are too many. The day we released ‘Wicked Eyes’ on our own label, and just seeing that record become a little hit in its own way, the entire process was very satisfying. So I’ll go with that.
Ryan Murgatroyd’s remix for Arm In Arm arrives January 31st on Blaufield Music.