Matias Aguayo and DJ Spoko collaborated on the EP Dirty Dancing in 2017. It came about when Aguayo – the Berlin-based Cómeme chief – traveled to Johannesburg for a label party and met the South African producer and DJ.
Aguayo (right) – I got the chance to visit South Africa for the first time two years ago, so I’m unable to compare it to other times. But I have been following the music scene for quite some time. The South African take on club music felt very close to our label Cómeme in a strange and pleasant way. I use the word ‘strange’ because none of us had been there before and because it seemed so far away. I was so happy when I finally got a chance to spend some time there, playing, producing and dancing. I can only tell about Joburg, and I was thrilled to meet different people from the music scene there doing amazing stuff, both modern and unique. I met DJ Spoko of course, I met Tshepang Rambo Ramoba, Aero Manyelo, Moonchild Sanelly, FAKA, BLK JKS’ Mpumelelo Mcata, and also Felix Laband (who actually lives in Capetown) and the Rudeboyz from Durban. I feel that it’s a vibrant and rich music scene and that I was surrounded by good and interesting music all the time. Regarding a worldwide reception of South African music, I think it has influenced a lot of things and I don’t mean so much Europe for instance, but more Latin America. There you can find a musical exchange that goes from south to south, and that is quite interesting.
I feel that the European and American music scene unfortunately perceive music coming from the Southern Hemisphere as something like a ‘cultural phenomenon’, rather than what I think it is: music of today.
WTM: Where did you play in South Africa and where did you meet and record with Spoko (below)? What was that like?
I have played in South Africa on several occasions, but most important to mention is The Bar/Club known as Kitchener’s in Braamfontein, Joburg. Most of the action happened at that place and. This is where Colleen and Ri, who are ‘Broaden A New Sound’ and do parties called ‘Below the Bassline’ and many more things, often play with the rest of the local scene. We recorded radio shows there as well as in Tshepang Ramoba’s studio that you can hear on our radio platform Radio Cómeme.
When Colleen and Ri from Broaden a New Sound invited me to play they prompted me to do collaborations with local musicians – they knew it’s something I like to do and so they asked me if there was any musician in particular I would be interested in working with. I immediately asked about DJ Spoko as I was always into his tracks – they said “no problem, he’s a friend, we’ll hook you up!”. I was obviously very excited to meet a dance music hero of mine. So we went to the Atteridgeville township near Pretoria to pick him up, to then play together at the Bar Kitchener’s and to record music in the following days.
Both experiences were great. Doing music together felt very natural, just as we had been working together for many years. We quickly got into a nice zone of jamming, and had a lot of fun recording the tracks…Both of us have very strong and similar rhythmical approaches, it was cool to create rhythms together and to share some knowledge on how to program and improvise with those. We kind of lived together for a couples of days and I am very happy about what we achieved to do in that time, and also by the fact that we are releasing a record that was produced in South Africa makes me very happy, as that music was such a big influence for us.
WTM: What next for you?
I am working on an album alongside my band The Desdemonas – we’ve already started touring together as a band and are also developing the music. Now we’re in the process of recording, which is very magical as there are birds appearing at our windows in the studio all the time when we record. We even have them incorporated in the recording. Live takes with birds!
WTM: Who are your musical influences, both in South Africa and globally?
Oh my musical influences are from everywhere. I grew up with the music my parents listened to, which was Chilean musicians and bands like Victor Jara or Los Jaivas, but later I would grow up with disco funk from when I was 10 to 13 or so. As a teenager I started to love The Cure but also Tuxedomoon and Liaisons Dangereuses and a variety of music, that lasted on. Obviously house and techno had a deep impact on me, but in the end I listen to all kinds of music – Bo Diddley, Andrés Landero, Baby Ford, Aksak Maboul, DAF, Mostro, rRoxymore, Menchess, Talking Heads, Manu Dibango, and many more.
WTM: Did you get to check out any gqom, pansula or shangan electro while you were on your travels?
Actually I also spent some time jamming with the Rudeboyz from Durban who are great. I find the gqom rhythms extremely modern and inspiring.