Back in the early 2000s, Lady Venom had a side hustle of buying DJ mixtapes (CASSETTE mixtapes!) and kung fu movies (on VHS) and selling them to hiphop shops. “One of the movies in my catalogue was called ‘The Five Lady Venoms‘. The movie itself was a piece of shit but the name really resonated with me so I called my company Lady Venom Distribution. It was inevitable that spending a bunch of time in dank basements with DJs and their decks/collections would rub off on me. I guess I learned via osmosis and then eventually started playing warm up sets to empty clubs – mostly to pay for an increasingly expensive vinyl purchasing habit.” This would end up landing her an opening spot for Stones Throw Records founder Peanut Butter Wolf (who is one of the headliners at CTEMF this year!) where she earned her first real taste of moving a crowd.
A while later she would engage in one of those life-altering moments – “I actually did my taxes! Haha, but really, I actually did my taxes and got a chunk of money back. I remember holding the cheque in my hand and showing my friend and saying ‘Look!! I can afford my own turntables now!’ and she replied ‘…or you could come to Cape Town with me’”. To this day she has still never owned her own turntables, but she did head to Cape Town. “It just happened to be at the same time that the Red Bull Academy was here so we basically snuck into as many events as possible. I ended up playing one of the park jams in Mitchells Plain, we got a show on Bush Radio and I started playing at Remi Gold’s weekly night at Marvel on Long St. I fell so deep in love with Cape Town and after a decade or so of back and forthing decided to move here permanently a few years ago.”
She describes her style as an archaeology of hip hop. “If you step back far enough, squint your eyes and tilt your head to the side, hip hop includes all other genres. I say it’s the archaeology of hip hop because that was my starting point, but once I started digging I began to understand the interconnectedness of all music. I play what I like while always paying homage to that starting point.”
We all want to know exactly what our favourite musicians are bumping to get a sense of where the magic (partly) comes from. The Booth is a taste of all that. Lady Venom has shared with us 5 tracks that she’s into, in no particular order:
Alister Johnson – ‘Call Answer’ ft. Zaki Ibrahim
Zaki is the friend that brought me to Cape Town. I am always blown away by the magnitude of her talent for songwriting and arranging, she is a true performer/artist in every sense of the word.
Maramza – ‘Poison’ ft. Moonchild
This track by Maramza and Moonchild is my perfect track right now, it finds its way into pretty much every set I’ve played as of late – it just satisfies all my sound cravings.
The Flamingos – ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’
Music is hugely nostalgic for me, the first digging I ever did was through my dad’s 50’s doo-wop collection. I have an ongoing fantasy of one day having a golden oldies radio show where people call in for love advice. This track would be the theme song for that show (it also holds a place in the anthropology of hip hop, nerds will know).
A Tribe Called Quest – ‘Bonita Applebum’
The first hip hop song I ever heard being played on vinyl at a house party. I had to ask the DJ to repeat the artist’s name 7 times before getting a pen and having him write it down for me. “A What Called Who?!” They changed my whole life.
Hugh Masekela – ‘The Boy’s Doin’ It’
Found this album in the Bush Radio CD library and this track set me off on another life-long dig into the vast treasury of South African music.
Again, catch Lady Venom spinning gold at Muse Festival this weekend at Colorbox Studios in Cape Town on Friday at 20:00.