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Talking techno with DJ and producer Floyd Lavine
Breaking down the South African electronic music scene
Summer in Cape Town is the season of pumping electronic music festivals and raucous independent parties, and there’s no one better to tell us more about the scene than DJ/producer and party expert Floyd Lavine, an energetic guy who is as good on the dance floor as he is at mixing sounds behind his turntable.
Floyd grew up with music influences like hip-hop and soul, but after receiving his first South African house CD, his music taste took a new path. During his six-year stay in the UK, where he studied music, he had the chance to explore the underground techno scene and he developed his own sound, which he describes as a mix of house and techno.
His talent didn’t stay undiscovered in London for long; he got the chance to showcase his skills at the legendary festival Glastonbury as well as at the Get Loaded in the Park festival and at the Ministry of Sound.
With this experience he moved back to Cape Town where the upcoming electronic music scene was about to take off. These days, aside from growing the fresh South African music scene, Floyd has set up his own label, NomadiQ Music, and also produces for international labels like, Murmur and Lower East.
Despite his time in the international spotlight though, Floyd seems to really enjoy the small independent parties and the enthusiastic crowds that come with them. We sat down to chat to him about what’s hip and happening in Cape Town.
CapeTownMag: When did you realise you wanted to be a DJ?
FL: When I first saw people DJ. I used to dance a lot and in the early 2000s. I went partying and raving to electronic and dance music, which was mostly house and techno. My passion for DJing started off with deep house, and later on, I became interested in the more moody side of the music, techno.
CapeTownMag: How would you describe the music you’re making?
FL: I think it’s a little bit of techno and house. I love the mood in techno, and I love the nostalgic moments of house. The sound of house comes more from the discotheque ground and techno comes more from forward thinking. I combine these two elements to get a mix of late night, emotive music.
CapeTownMag: What have you been working on lately?
FL: I’ve been doing a lot of things recently. Apart from setting up our label NomadiQ Music, I’ve been writing a lot of music. I’ve also been working with some friends of mine on a Rose Court release which has been doing very well on the label Just Move Records. I’ve just finished a podcast for a London publication called MEOKO, they do really good work. I’ve just finished an EP, which is coming out under a London label called ‘Lower East’. So, I’ve been in the studio a lot to work on releases and events.
CapeTownMag: Have you worked with South African DJs or musicians?
FL: Yes. Most of my friends are actually in music. So I end up working with my friends. I’ve been working with some friends from Japan, the UK and also with a lot of South African friends like Mey, Behr, Dix, Diggin4Dodge.
CapeTownMag: Which of your performances do you consider your best?
FL: I’d say my Sunday performances at Sapphire in Camps Bay are very good. I also have to mention Jef K Tour Johannesburg and obviously the parties that I performed in London. Those parties were amazing because every night there is a very enthusiastic crowd coming out for your music, and that is pretty cool.
CapeTownMag: Where can we catch Floyd Lavine playing in Cape Town?
FL: People can catch me playing at Fiction nightclub, Chakkachurri, Cold Turkey and also at my own NomadiQ Music events around Cape Town.
CapeTownMag: What’s the funniest thing that has happened at one of your parties?
FL: I think the funniest memory I have is when people tried to get naked. That was really funny, especially because it was in winter. They were friends of ours and when they party they want to get naked eventually. Cape Town has some crazy people, and I think it’s a combination of the locals and the foreigners that creates craziness.
CapeTownMag: You are a London electronic music expert. What do you think of the electronic underground scene in Cape Town? Can it rival the London scene?
FL: I would say it is different. Obviously not many places in the world can live up to the scene in London. The only other place would probably be Berlin and maybe New York. I think there are no other places on earth that you can compare with London in terms of the number of events that are happening there. What I like about the Cape Town electronic music scene is that it’s fresh and new, so it means that you can actually move to it in a certain way. You’ve got a bit more freedom. Maybe in the next three years it will be like a little suburb of London.
CapeTownMag: Is there an area or street corner in Cape Town that has influenced your music?
FL: It is probably Long Street and Rose Court, the name of the building in Vredehoek where I live. I also think the surroundings of Cape Town, but more specifically Cape Town city. You have to get in the right mindset to make music again, and to get there you need the right environment so that you can feel creative.
CapeTownMag: The best place to grab a beer with friends in Cape Town on a Friday night is….
FL:... Chukkachurri is definitely the spot for me, because it is small, intimate and when it’s a good night, it’s great! Even when there are 50 people it’s a good party. You can dance, but you can also chill out downstairs if you want to. I think it’s a great Friday spot.
CapeTownMag: If anything were possible, the best place to have a concert in CT would be….
FL:… A five-day festival on Robben Island. You can play the music loud, you don’t have to stop the party and you can just tell anybody who doesn’t like it to go to Cape Town. So, Robben Island if you’re listening, we’re coming!
CapeTownMag: What was the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome thus far?
FL: Discipline has been a challenge - just being focused constantly. Time management is also very difficult because when you are a DJ you’re constantly doing a lot of things. You have to allocate time and give every task equal amount of time and that is pretty difficult. Party finishing times have been a challenge as well. I don’t want the club to close at 3 or 4am; I want to finish when I am ready, which could be 12 in the afternoon. Sound restrictions in the city are also difficult. We should be able to play music when we want, and if you want to complain about the sounds I think you should live in the suburbs.
CapeTownMag: If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
FL: I would probably come back as a great white shark [laughs], because nobody is fishing you and you can just travel around and eat everything you want.
CapeTownMag: When not making music what do you like to do?
FL: I have been trying to figure that out recently. When I am not making music or partying, I want to check out what’s around Cape Town. When I buy a dog in ten years I will go for long walks. I went mountain climbing once, which I thought was cool. At the moment I think hanging out with friends is what I do most next to making music.
CapeTownMag: If you had the opportunity to work with any musician, who would it be?
FL: I would probably say Quincy Jones. He was Michael Jackson’s producer, and has produced for some amazing artists. I just like the way he works as a producer, so working with him would be quite an eye-opener. Or maybe Stevie Wonder, because he can play the keys and I could tell him how I want every sound to be. Yeah, Stevie Wonder would be great, and so and would Lauryn Hill.
CapeTownMag: What is your favourite song ever?
FL: [Sings] I am too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt – Right Said Fred. [Laughs] No, it's actually The Verve - Lucky Man.
Get a great taste of Floyd Lavine’s music with these videos:
By Karin Willemsen for the CapeTownMagazine.com Cape Town Music Series. The Cape Town music Series is a project of CapeTownMagazine.com highlighting muscians, bands and DJs based in Cape Town and the Western Cape.