The man versus the DJ: a dialogue with the producer & performer (and lecturer) leading up to his next performance at Little Gig
I’m sure you have been asked this question too many times before, but I am dying to know, what’s with the mask?
Masked characters have historically been part of performance art in several cultures. My big inspiration for InviZAble is the Japanese Noh performance, which is often based on tales from traditional literature with a supernatural being transformed into human form as a hero narrating a story. InviZAbles’ mask has an even deeper meaning, as it reflects what is in front of him. This creates a reflection of the audience, and in a semiotic way, represents their perspective to be embodied through the performance.
I am also dying to know more about the man behind the mask, Nick Matthews…
He is a pretty eccentric person. Nick by day is a lecturer in the arts – and by night, a music producer, performance and conceptual artist and is no stranger to the DJ console.
You refer to yourself as a “mythical being who travelled from a distant highland tribe and never speaks in tongue.” I really have no idea what that means; please unpack that description for me.
As DJ InviZAble does not vibrate on the same frequency as humans do, his words and language are not heard by the human ear. In order for InviZAble to communicate with humans, he uses sound, specifically music, to convey his message.
You often, if not always, wear your mask with the traditional BaSotho hat, mokorotlo. Do you have any relation to the Sotho culture? If not, some people may see that as cultural appropriation, what do you have to say about that?
Appropriation is a complex word that has its origins in the English diction. If one considers purism as an ideological perspective, it is easy to point fingers at anyone who does not embody a normative image of their ethnic and cultural heritage. However when culture is understood as a process and not an object, then one is able to understand, especially in South Africa, that it is a process of creolization which takes from what is available, what is remembered, and creates meaning which in turn becomes a tradition, which in essence is appropriation. In the case of InviZAbles image, it could also be said that he would have appropriated from both African and European influences. Instead of attempting to look at appropriation as an act of theft, it should be thought of as an evolutionary effect of any cultural process, whether in Lesotho or Holland.
I love the way you dress; it’s very distinct and it’s quite obvious that fashion is a huge part of what you do. How do you think fashion influences music or vice versa?
Fashion and music serve similar purposes in culture as to how people create identity configurations. The combination of both for is possibly the most distinctive way for humans to achieve this, which can be easily seen in many popular music genres. In the case of InviZABle’s outfit, he embodies an Afro futurist image that builds on its roots to empower itself through ‘appropriating’ stylistic conventions into something new.
Let’s talk about your music. When did you start DJing and what sets you apart from other South African House DJs?
InviZAble’s music has been consolidating since 2010. DJ’ing is only a part of the performance which includes narrative, dance choreography, instruments played live and visual elements that combine to form a performance art piece rather than a DJ set.
What have you been up to since the release for your EP, No Apologies, in 2013?
InviZAble has been working on a few single releases with Computa General called !Kwantum Phyziks and with Yolanda Fyrus called iTongo Lam. InviZAble has also remixed Stone Jets’ radio single Hurricane which is due for release next month as well as Qadasi and Maqhinga. Future collabs with BCUC are on the cards.
A couple of years ago, you used to record and perform with Xander Ferreira as Gazelle. Before the release of The Rise & Fall Of An Empire under a new name, Gazelle & DJ Invizable in 2014, I thought you guys had broken apart. Can we expect any more material from the two of you in the future?
The relationship is still strong and we hope to unite forces again to bring new sounds to the ears of the people.
Of all the collaborations and projects that you have been featured on, which one did you enjoy the most and why?
It’s hard to choose, as all the artists I have worked with are great comrades. The process of the collaboration is the best part. It brings about new ideas and fresh perspectives. I still keep a close connection with Tribal Need, one of my brothers in sound.
Any chance you might ever show your face?