Your submission was the first from South Africa…
Yes, we live in Durban, an entertainment hub for tourists and for fellow South Africans from other provinces, I have to admit that is not a scientific fact, but any South African will tell you that our beaches, the night life are incomparable, and the people are generally friendly. Situated on the east coast of the southern Africa our warm weather makes it the perfect spot to come, relax and enjoy yourself. We hardly use the name Durban as Durbanites we usually use the ethnic name “eThekwini” or “Itheku” Having said that our perspective is mostly influenced by the fact that we spend most of our time in the township (Umlazi).
We are from South Africa’s second largest township Umlazi, otherwise referred to as ghettos in other places, that is where most of our activities take place. Gqom music actually grew out of Durban into the world with artists like DJ Tira, Mampintsha, Babes Wodumo to name a few. The predominant language is IsiZulu but very slang and unique.
Life for us in eThekwini or more specifically in Umlazi is buzzing with Energy, people here like to have a good time, there is also an underground scene when it comes to music we gather at shows and interact so there is a lot of artists like us coming up as well. Township life is not for the feint hearted a lot of people from other places are quite hesitant to come over whilst they want to experience the Club scene we have to offer, with places like EYADINI LOUNGE, MAX’S lifestyle and Yellow lounge to name a few.
Its safe to say that Durbanites like having a good time being one of biggest alcohol consumers in the country we know how to have a good time.
What is behind your band name “Red Tag Fam”?
We as Red Tag family we are very close friends you might even say we are a family of our own. We come from different backgrounds but nonetheless strong traditional families. As a group we are still young adult individuals trying to make a better life for ourselves the oldest in the group is 27.
Red Tag family is a group of multifunctional Individuals rather than a band, we are involved in a lot of activities and music is an outlet for us of conversations, thoughts and experiences we have come across some good and some bad. We call ourselves The Red Nation we subscribe to communist ideas in the sense that we share things among ourselves. We also believe in building each other up.
We are friends initially, Thabiso, Sphamandla, Siyanda, Nhlakanipho, Hlanganani(he who was to remain unnamed) hence we called ourselves a family. We have a structure thats consists the president Siyanda , the general Thabiso, secretary general Sphamandla and Nhlakanipho the commissioner. Group dynamics and those who have an affinity for the music are in the group, but mostly we are in everything together.
For us those the experience has been mixed really, working together as a team has been difficult but us being friends for the longest time allows us to understand each other better. Recently we started working with other artists not in the group and found it a challenge with regards to Studio etiquette, style of music and really studio time as we have never done it before. Never the less, the result of collaborating with other artists such as Rocka afro, sphe and mabito are two singles, namely "Malambane" (one that is hungry) and "Like Me".
We’ve found that also putting out music in South Africa is quite difficult, for instance there are quite a number Music Bodies in South Africa that you have to register with Like RISA, SAMRO of which their functions at times overlap. This has created a cloud of confusion among up and coming artists like us, we are still learning the ins and outs of the music industry in general.
What is good music for you?
We got into music when one of guys started making beats while he was still in varsity and sent a beat that will eventually materialise into a Hip Hop love song called “Zulu Love Letter”.
Not a day passes by that we don’t play our own music, we have a playlist of unmastered songs that are still in the works. Music for us by us it can’t get better than that, we have the privilege of having a beatmaker onsite and guys that contributed financially with regards to buying the second set of equipment its not the best. We usually open minded when it comes to the type of music we listen to, but we are predominantly hip-hop fanatics but we sometimes sample from other genres like Jazz and house. Music makes you feel good and can get you out of a ditch or can set the mood at gatherings even performing is something else.
Could you tell us a little bit more about “Gqom” music?
To some Gqom is life started with songs that were used by dance groups as some of us used to dance, Thabiso to specific. Gqom relates to the heart beat, around here you dont have party if you aren't playing Gqom.
You can't help but groove to it, its like house music inspired by a zulu drum instrument. South African dance uses mostly complex feet movements and facial expressions mostly and a few hand gestures. In terms of the contribution durban has made towards the music industry, Gqom has to be the biggest contribution thus far. Us as hip hop artists listen to Gqom everyday its part of life.
Who are the musicians in your group?
Thabiso Msomi – KING DOGG
Songwriter/Rapper/Cameraman king DOGG is a hip-hop rapper, who was inspired the legendary rapper Eminem his favourite track by Eminem is “Mockingbird”. The type of music and his character really drew him and the same time his friend started sending him beats and the rest was history.
Siyanda Chiliza – OGMShav
Beatmaker/Producer/Rapper OGMshav got into making beats through a Music student he was sharing a dorm with while studying IT at Nelson Mandela University, He majored in Piano and so was well versed in the art of music. From there he improved and started sharing his beats with his homeboys and materialised into what we are today.
While we are the active artists currently, we do have other artists coming up, such as Psychotic, and Waynele.
How did you make the song “Chance”?
The hook on the song was written and sung by OGMShav and really speaks to second chances and that we always have a choice. We have mobile studio that we bought together when we were still a group six friends, earlier this year the friend who shall forever remain unnamed decided to sell our studio equipment with prior consultation.
We had as dispute and we decided to move on and we saved up to buy ourselves a new mobile studio consisting of a mic and a sound card. Thabiso on his birthday was stabbed four times and survived. OGMshav this year got arrested for being hired as a security guard without a license and was later recused of the charge and thus the song chance. We are basically saying through it all there is no trash bin for a human being.
And what about the music video?
Honestly we did not plan the video at all, we were celebrating Thabiso’s birthday and in a spur of the moment thing and we recorded using a phone it was tragic because it ended up in the tragic stabbing of Thabiso.
We decided to have a intimate celebration and shot the video for chance. Amidst all of this fun some guys from around the area came to wreck the party. While we were trying to get these guys out of the house a scuffle ensued outside later as and Thabiso got hurt.
Coming back to your troubles with equipment: what would help you most at the moment, how much would that cost?
After some time saving we managned to get ahold of a second hand studio equipment an m-audio sound card and a hybrid condenser microphone with a stand. We also got a medium sized midi player. And two bluetooth speakers for monitoring. A digital camera, a workstation which was housed at his backyard. Seeing that siyanda as the producer was in Port Elizabeth at Nelson Mandela University during his days college the studio would was not active then so we found out tha he had sold the equipment without prior consultation as buying of the equipment was a group effort.
We then saved up for another soundcard and a mic but we have been having issues operating the soundcard. So we havent been able to put out work lately. We would appreciate any contribution to the cause as the music is outlet for most of us. To put out music and to have an online presence in general has been hard we dont have base as we parted ways with thebother friend.
To get back to making music we would need a workstation, monitors, a midi player, headphones and a digital camera and a shed to house all of this.
And our final question for the moment, citing your lyrics, “What’s the next move?”
The next move is the limit we have love for music and we just need a chance an means to get to a point were we are self-reliant. We want to occupy these viby places we mentioned. We are hungry for success and are looking to work with people to push dream forward. We one day vision ourselves a prominent brand in the music industry, developing and acting as a platform for upcoming artist locally.