Artlifers are a collective of passionate young creatives from Johannesburg whose interests connect art, politics, society, music and fashion. They first came together while at university, realising that their mutual interests could be better advanced as a crew. Their initial efforts focused on producing streetwear which won them international exposure on a Yahoo feature about South African trends. They also diversified into music with crew members putting in the DJ work at parties and events. But there diverse sociological concerns have now found their perfect medium- podcast radio.
Now on its fourth episode of season three, the Artlifers Show is both a vehicle to give exposure to young artists, while also discussing the frenzied challenges confronting South Africa. This might sound onerous but the crew adapt a laid-back and affable presentation style, which engages with the audience in an enjoyable way. A good example is provided in Episode Three. The broadcast discussed topics from the J.Cole concert to the AFDA film festival. These topics provide a springboard to discuss hefty themes like the climate of toxic masculinity in South Africa and the new moral panic about ‘lean’. As they point out, the media has become fixated on the dangers of cough syrup, while ignoring the far more serious problem of nyaope abuse. Because these topics are discussed casually and with wit, the discussion doesn’t sound like a message from the pulpit or soapbox.
And each episode shows this same subtle attention to tone. The most recent episode Indiependence Day highlights path-finding youth in a number of different industries. Cool Africa looks at the inventive work being done by expatriate South African’s. Along with the talk, each episode is served with a hefty helping of fresh music. South African radio is currently in a dismal place. There is a renewed attempt to enforce censorship on public broadcasters, while private platforms are dominated by self-serving egomaniacs. But with their podcast, Artlifers are keeping the spirit of radio communication alive, and updated for the internet age.