For South Africa creatives, there is no better time than now to take advantage of the power of the internet and how it allows for international collaborations to happen. In 2017, you simply need a laptop, a creative mind and an internet connection to create a solid digital footprint. Let us not forget a well put-together email pitch and a determined spirit. Simple tools to get you going to create a legacy for yourself. Sure, for African creatives, a constant access to the internet may be a challenge but being the costs of having a solid internet access are a necessary evil for creatives. The internet is the fuel to launching your digital takeover. There are quite a few young creatives that are doing amazing things and forming connections that would probably never happen 10 years ago if an artist did not have record label backing. The gates are open for artists to take up a DIY attitude.
An example of a South African creative that is breaking into international markets is the Cape Town based creative, ECHLN. With a creative collaboration with Darker Than Wax, an international electronic music label and international music collective based in Singapore, ECHLN stands to add weight to his name across different parts of the globe. Darker Than Wax boasts a 43 000 Soundcloud following which the Cape Town based creative can take advantage of. We got an opportunity to chop it up with ECHLN to find out more about him. Peep the conversation below.
Extending appreciation and our gratitude to you is something that we need to clear out first before we jump in. We appreciate the time taken to speak to us. We came across your work through DARKER THAN WAX on Soundcloud, which is an incredible platform that pushes a certain musical culture. After spinning your tracks, our team was quite impressed by the quality of your music and we decided to do our research. Upon our research, we found out that you are from South Africa, which was even more incredible. Can you please tell us more about yourself?
ECHLN: My name is Kwetsima Maluleke. I was born on April 7 1995. I was raised in Johannesburg and then Pretoria when I started Grade 1 and I’ve been a Pretorian from then till Matric. I know stay in Cape Town and I’m studying Bachelor Arts of Sound Production at SAE Institute Cape Town.
Your style of music is quite unique, it has an immediate international appeal that one can catch after a listen or two. It is certainly not bounded by any borders. Who or what are some of your musical influences?
ECHLN: Always trying to create moments like that and for me, that is creativity. Listening to Pharrell composed music made me think this way. It the little things that make the biggest difference
When did the journey into music begin? Is music a venture that you intended to go into full time? In the times we live in, we are witnessing more dynamic artists that manage to hold down jobs, start and run businesses and also find time to create music.
ECHLN: It started off as something fun I’d do at my cousins’ place because they had FL Studio on their computer and I started to enjoy it more and more to the point where during my early high school years, after homework I’d go or sneak onto FL Studio and make some beats. Switching fully to Propellerhead Reason got me a lot more serious about the thing and I knew that this what I wanted to do.
What can you say has been the biggest highlight since you started putting your music out online?
ECHLN: Definitely, Darker Than Wax hosting two of my songs. I’ve been a fan of them for 4 years and I didn’t ever think I’d be on their and releasing projects with them. It’s not the first time an overseas label noticed me but this was the most significant.
Dead or alive, which artist would you like to meet or work with?
ECHLN: Pharrell Williams.
Do you feel that the general South African music listener would be receptive of the music that you create?
ECHLN: No to be honest. My music isn’t exactly commercial. People that listen to my music listen to international acts a lot and especially from Soundcloud but I’ve accepted that and I’m addressing that by adding more local elements into my music because it’s cool having your music played from the US to Singapore but I’m from South Africa and I want my sound to be bigger here.
Let’s talk about platforms, do you think there are enough platforms in South Africa that give young artists like you a platform to share their music?
ECHLN: There are many platforms but not good ones. It depends on who you’re trying to target. You just must know which platform to use really. I knew Soundcloud would get me a lot of international listeners for example. For some artists, radio would be better than that. You as an artist just must know which is best for you.
In closing, where can people find you or your work online? Do you have any words for your supporters or the people that will start following you?
ECHLN: You can find me on soundcloud.com/echln and echln.bandcamp.com and @prodbyechln on Twitter. All I can say for now is that I have an EP with Darker Than Wax coming soon this year and some other projects I can’t yet mention yet so stay tuned.
ECHLN has a bright future in the creative space in South Africa, more specifically in music. The work that he has put is outstanding and is worthy South African export to international markets.
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