Making it through a live gqom set is an act of endurance. Having personally spent many nights captivated and moved to near exhaustion by South Africa’s latest musical obsession, I can testify to the visceral full body reaction that comes standard when listening to gqom in any public setting. What was once a niche genre, originating in Durban, has since become South Africa’s most lauded musical export. At the forefront of the percussion dominant, club-ready genre is DJ Lag – gqom’s pioneer and undisputed leader. In a relatively short time, he has established himself as an international favourite and the sound’s leading evangelist.
It’s been a steady takeover since gqom was birthed in bedroom studios across Durban and brought to life in the taxi’s that crisscrossed the city’s landscape; spreading the sound and turning it from a niche into a local powerhouse. A powerhouse that gave rise to the accelerated popularity of Okmalumkoolkat, Sho Madjozi. Distruction Boyz, Babes Wodumo and of course, the gqom King himself, DJ Lag. In the midst of yet another international tour and hot off the heels of a FADER Mix and a new EP (listen below), we managed to get a few words from a peerless artist on the genre he helped create.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
Your Trip to New York EP was, unsurprisingly, influenced by your tour to the Big Apple, but where did the inspiration for Stampit come from?
For this E.P. I decided to go hard and dark… if you listen to the last E.P., it was more melodic
The gqom community is growing but still heavily associated with Durban: when do you think a large number of gqom producers will start coming from outside of Durban and eventually outside the country?
There are producers from Cape Town and the Eastern Cape who are really good, like DJ Ligwa and Bizza Wethu… and when I went to Japan they were some guys who were making Gqom live!
Having reached your levels of success means making a lot of your dreams come true, but what are some of the goals you still have set for yourself?
I am planning to open my record label maybe next year and to start pushing other upcoming producers abroad.
What cities have you enjoyed playing the most and what makes them special?
I enjoyed Afropunk New York because I got the best slot! Pusha T performed first, then it was me and then Tyler The Creator… It was a dream come true for me to share a stage with them.
Where do you see gqom’s limits? Where would you like to see the genre evolve in the future?
I See the sound of Gqom as a genre that will continue to take the world by storm. Hopefully, it will be one of the most well-recognized sounds in the world
Who are some up and coming artists that you feel are worth shouting out?
My top 3 upcoming Gqom producers are: Abashana Bonjandini, Terrace and Campmasters