For our second instalment of Sound Gallery is a feature whereby we interview a DJ and invite them to curate a mix exhibiting skill, talents and nous. For our second instalment of Sound Gallery we spoke to multi-genre DJ and producer, AppleSawc (Wandile Mguni) from Johannesburg about his music tastes, production methods, appreciation of genre and DJing at his own wedding with a ridiculous rider. His mix is a journey through acid, breaks and trapstyle.
The Fuss – So let us start with your with stage name. Since you started producing and DJing has you moniker always been AppleSawc and what is the significance behind it?
AppleSawc – As an artist you first start off with a genuine passion for your craft, then once your comfortable with what your making comes the branding element… Safe to say I’ve been through a few from when I was 16 yrs old. I love the flavour of apples “Apple”. I use a lot of synth based sounds mainly root to an obnoxious “Saw” wave. My music writing process naturally starts on the note “C” if not its the key register. Put it all together “AppleSawc”. I started off with writing hip hop beats so the the whole ebonics thing links Sauce>Sawc… Man I’m such a geek…
The Fuss – Talk us through the birth of your relationship with music. Based on your recollections what was the first musical track that really stuck with you? It could be a track you remember your parents playing for you or the first piece of music you purchased?
AppleSawc – Fela Kutis Water No Get Enemy. That’s the track right there man. The intro on that track is one riff that will never leave me. From the first time my father played that song, I’ve always been fascinated by the guy and his music!
I’ve been surrounded by all sorts of music since I was a kid. Its never been about genre – more about sound.
I owe my pops props for my music appreciation varying from Jazz, fusion, Opera, Afro beat, Trip Hip to Techno Brega, the list goes on. Growing up with my best friend Twala, son of Chico Twala – I remember we use to beat the drums at their home studio when I was in pre-school. If it wasn’t at the studio we’d be beat boxing or beating on the trampoline in one of the classrooms instead of jumping up and down on it like all the other kids. Then came my brothers who introduced me to digital music production when I was 8yrs old. I’d watch them making beats on Magix Studio. I lived in New Zealand for a while where I was a radio Dj at 17 for a top40 station called LFM 88.4. I joined the school band there where I played drums and bass. Having finished high school it only made sense to go to Cape Town and study Audio Engineering & Film. That’s where I fell in love with D&B along with the more EDM orientated styles through some friends I met at audio college including Fredy Lourenzo (Subliminal) Ross Alexender (Axlr) and Kyle Brinkmann (Das Kapital). They put me onto some dope tunes. I guess now its just ‘Music till death do us apart’, sound is a life time journey for me.
The Fuss – What was the first piece of music you purchased and fill us in on some of the other artists you enjoyed when you were only a listener?
First album I purchased would probably be Commons Finding Forever. I really loved the journey in that album from the first to the last track. My mother even stole that CD from me SMH. There are so many artists and bands whose work I enjoy. J-Dilla, Tito Puente, Cesaria Evora, Isaac Hayes, Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo, Diego Stocco, Cassendra Willson, System of a Down, Queens of the Stone Age, Shrift, Smoke City and the list goes on. Safe to say when I was a listener I was also a maker. I would always hum random tunes and beats from my head always wishing there was a device I could connect to my head and make beats through thought… sigh.
The Fuss – Eventually, there was a point where you decided to take the step from being a listener to becoming a creator. What was the initial push which ultimately led to making this decision and which came first for you – Djing or Production?
AppleSawc – It was production first. My world has always been music. The production aspect came when I got a hold of programs where I could track my ideas. This was when I was 14 years old (in the myspace and soundclick days) until I was 20. I almost stopped forever but Kyle Brinkmann convinced me to get back into it. The Dj’ing thing was second nature. I felt more driven to DJ by the idea of sharing music with the masses and mashing it up.
The Fuss – Recently you have been involved with campaigns hosted by Red Bull Music Academy as well as ConnectZA. How did you find these experiences and what significance do they hold for you?
AppleSawc – Being nominated for ConnectZA was quiet daunting although I did not make it through to the final stages of performance, luckily a mate, Mohato Lekena aka WilderBeats made it through and won the contest. 2013 was an awesome year.. #RBMA #BassCampZA was a great experience.
I was honoured to be a part of it as one of thirty artists from across South Africa. It was like being called to join the X-MEN.
It was awesome having music pioneers such as Hugh Masekela, Christos, Vinny Da Vinci and Black Coffee shed some light over their experiences, not forgetting French DJ/Remixer/Producer François K.
The Fuss – Can you recall the first production you had the confidence to release to the public? When did you release it? What kind of sound was it and do you feel your production style has expanded or changed since that release?
AppleSawc – I feel as though musically I was a wizard at 16.
Sonically I’ve become more of a futuristic neanderthal at this current stage as a sound designer.
I don’t know if that makes sense? The first public release was on soundclick when I was like 15 or so – it was some cholo type hip hop track with some random latin influences from I don’t know where.
The Fuss – Electronic music is going through a renaissance and one of the largest factors in its revival has been the advancement of technology. Tell us a bit about your production software, hardware and methods.
AppleSawc – In terms of production the core of my production is my laptop, that is my studio. There’s a million ways to skin a cat and I’m a believer in mastering and repurposing the little that you have. Being constricted can lead to some creative ways in which you use something. I’ve cut down interms of gear its basically just my laptop, DAWS (Digital Audio Workstation), Akai mpd26, Novation MiniNova Synthesizer and my Bose headset (which is not the flattest frequency response for production but I like the sound of them). In terms of my writing process I find that my tracks build themselves, seldom I have an exact idea of what I want to make.
The Fuss – What about your DJing tools/software?
AppleSawc – I’m a Digital Dj that uses a Traktor midi clock synced with Ableton, which I control with a custom mapped Akai MPD26 (Repurposed) for Traktor along with a multiple output firewire soundcard. Whats great about the MPD is its actually 32controllers in one so you can get quiet busy during a set, allowing for remixes on the fly, builds, tensions, improved finger drumming and macro effects.
The Fuss – How do you prepare for a set? What kind of balance do you keep between reading the audience and having a prepared tracklisting? Is the relationship with your audience a collaborative one or more of a battle? How do you balance giving a crowd what they want and treating them to something new and fresh?
AppleSawc – I prepare sets and sometimes I read. Crowd collaboration is great, it gets the people going. It’s all performance specific.
Chances are if you as the DJ are enjoying what your doing, the crowds feeds off that energy as well and it becomes almost spiritual.
It’s a mix mash of beats knowing your tracks well, this can help create space to build new tracks by just mixing two together into one song. Track selection wise release new tracks vs old my approach is; Fresh is relative, hipsters pride themselves on vintage, that’s fresh.
The Fuss – What was the first gig you ever played?
AppleSawc – First gig ever was AfroClap at a club called Fiction in Cape Town. It was hosted by Jakob Snake.
The Fuss – What’s the funniest or not so funny moment you’ve had during one of your sets?
AppleSawc – Having so many gadgets and being a digital DJ can be a disadvantage at times. I had this drunk sound guy moved my laptop and disconnected it from my soundcard midset which shut down my laptop. I didn’t have the energy to reboot.
The Fuss – Who’s throwing the best parties in Gauteng at the moment?
AppleSawc – I would have to say it’s a tough battle between SEED and Hilltop Live.
The Fuss – What are some of your favourite (single/album) releases of 2013?
AppleSawc – It would have to be The Star EP by Catching Flies who’s a really talented 21 year old producer from London.
The Fuss – How many gigs of music do you have?
AppleSawc – Roughly about 40gigs on my computer hard drive. Jeez… That’s more gigs than I’ve played in real life!
The Fuss – Do you have what we like to call a gamechanger? That one track you want to include in every set?
AppleSawc – Hahaha. Yeah, I have a few! Their event specific though.
The Fuss – Will you ever DJ at a wedding?
AppleSawc – lol. Funny. I was thinking about that the other day. I’d like to say “No! NEVER! NOT ON MY F*#$%ing LIFE!”. Maybe I would, but my rate would quadruple and my rider would be ridiculous.
The Fuss – If you could delete a genre from existence which would it be?
AppleSawc – That’s like committing murder to me. lol. Jeez, I don’t think I have it in me. Every genre deserves a fair chance.
I’d delete the word genre actually.
The Fuss – Give us a brief commentary on the Sound Gallery mix you’ve curated for us?
AppleSawc – The Sound Gallery mix I’ve curated is a bit of what to expect in my sets – moving from genre to genre, high energy, moshpit worthy booty hopping tunes. #SOMETHINGFOREVERYBODY.
The Fuss – What can we expect in 2014 from Applesawc?
AppleSawc – Expect to see AppleSawc at your mama’s house! JK theres some interesting collaborations with local artists and abroad along with projects that go beyond LFO’s basslines. Hopefully a miraculous set at Oppikoppi or “Felabration” in Nigeria.