‘Scenes’ are difficult things to define, and yet this doesn’t stop people from always talking about ‘The Scene’ in any particular city. In visual mediums, scenes are defined by locations and the actions that occur there, but in music it’s more of an aesthetic locality.
The physical location of Chicago, for example, can have both a house and footwork scene, for example. Most major cities in South Africa have a scene unified by a local subgenre of house – but Cape Town has gravitated towards the more nebulous sound of ‘Bass’ music, a kinda catch-all for left-field dance music. So does Cape Town have a sound?
The fractured and fickle nature of bass has meant a plurality of sound as well as an accelerated evolution. Glitch-hop had certainly rooted itself in the Mother City at one point, but its heyday has largely passed and it’s influence waned, begging the question of what was next.
Well, let us introduce you to Kwaai-fi, the Cape Town-based label hoping to be the answer to that question and more. Formed currently of producers Maramza, Dunn Kidda, DJ Fosta and Terrasoul, the crew have announced themselves with a new compilation tape of originals and remixes from their members.
Each musician associated with Kwaai-Fi is a purveyor of demonstrably forward-thinking dance music in their own rights – although all with different focuses and, to a large extent, audiences. The styles represented on the compilation, too, hit with the spread of a shotgun shell rather than than being single-minded in the musical stylings on display – fitting to that same characteristic of bass music in general mentioned above.
Terrasoul’s deep house dances along with Dunn Kidda’s grime-inspired downtempo. Fosta’s isjoko joko track – which appears as Cape Town’s nascent cousin to Durban’s world-conquering gqom – has edge that’s a perfect foil to the warmth found everywhere else on the tape.
Kwaai-Fi seems to be tying a string across all of these styles and sounds in a way that defines the scene in a more robust way. In their own words, Kwaai-Fi “aims to be a jump-off for some of the fresh scenes and sounds coming out of Cape Town. [The compilation] explores corners of CPT’s electronic scenes – Future Kwaito, Mid Tempo, iSjoko Joko, Future Beats, Bass Music and Deep House.”
Stream the EP below, and keep up with Kwaai-Fi on their social media platforms.