Having released his BBC Radio 1 Essential mix in January, stalwart of the gqom scene, DJ Lag kicked the year off with a bang. The pioneering producer and DJ from Clermont in KwaZulu-Natal has gone from strength to strength with increased international and local interest in his driving gqom sound. Currently he is preparing for “Something For Clermont”, a self-made event he is planning.
“The concept of music reaching all boundaries is amazing… it can take a young boy from Durban in a small township such as Clermont to travel the world is something that I never imagined would happen, the amazing thing about music is that it sees no colour, no boundaries or background when I’m playing in France or Switzerland we are all the same and feeling the same vibes and energy siyafana (we are the same and equal).”
His most recent release, the ‘Stampit’ EP, released on UK label Goon Club Allstars sees the producer playing with sounds that are appealing not only locally but also on an international level. The latest single from this release is “Switz”, a dark and broody track on which DJ Lag experiments with a different sound palate. “When I created the song Switz the energy was to create something dark and tribal something that was going to play at 3 am at Uhuru when the club is peaking… all I was thinking about [was] something that was different from the normal kicks that I usually use. I always have an open mind when creating whatever sounds good. I always try to think about how each country and crowd I play for will receive it.”
The accompanying music video, shot in New York by Bon Duke, features dynamic dancers led by Mette Towley. “Dance’s challenge is to convey human emotion… The body becomes the mechanism through which we communicate. Great dancers are poets. It’s about taking people through ideas, not steps. Our cast of dancers spent their Saturday in Brooklyn, moving, creating, and conveying their authentic selves. We captured these moments and want to use this music video to celebrate their physicality, their individual voices and their communal spirit.”
Thanks to his travels, DJ Lag has become more open to new sounds, something which shines through on “Switz”. “My approach has changed slightly. I am not afraid to go with what I feel sounds good… but to be honest we have a lot of talent in our country. There is a small difference between us and the rest of the world; it’s small things such as sounds they have available, a certain drum kick or kit but what I can say is that traveling opens your mind creatively and it’s helped me open my mind to new genres of music. We tend to limit ourselves when producing — you focus more on what radio wants to hear that you lose the art you really wanted to make.”
Apart from shows in Europe, DJ Lag will also be releasing new music in 2019 including a number of features which are currently under wraps, as well as a collaboration with Shekhinah. “What I’m excited about is my nomination for DJ Of The Year at the SA Gqom Awards that will be hosted in Durban. I’m really excited that the work is being recognized. It’s taken a while for the city to notice the effort we put in, so thank you to the teams I have. We are making some moves. Just want to bring this home!”