Discerning listeners may already be familiar with the sounds of Fantasma from 2014’s critically acclaimed EP “Eye of the Sun” track titled FREE LOVE! We just cannot talk about that one of the most eclectic artists of South African electronic dance music-Spoek on the spotlight today without paying an homage to one of the tunes that brings a glimpse into a musical dimension to the sound from the wild, freewheeling world of South African band Fantasma-Johannesburg/SouthAfrica music band where our AOFTW was a founding member.
Spoek Mathambo whose real name is Nthato Mokgata grew up in Soweto, South Africa. Spoek Mathambo (born Nthato Mokgata 14 May 1985) is a South African artist, producer, singer-songwriter and rapper known for his fusion of a wide array of musical influences and his coining the Township Tech to describe the electronic music he produces. He is also South African /DJ/film maker.
Although having coined the term “Township Tech”, Spoek Mathambo’s influence stems from various forms of music. From the hip-house/new rave/electro-booty funk sounds of Sweat X, which he started with Markus Wormstorm, to the afro-electronica/psychedelic hip-hop guise of Fantasma;
In 2010, his debut album Mshini Wam was released on BBE Records. The album includes an award-winning cover of Joy Division’s “She’s Lost Control”. The track received the Young Director Award at the 2011 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Meanwhile, Mathambo was nominated in the Best African Act category at the 2011 MOBO Awards
In 2012, Mathambo released his second album Father Creeper on Sub Pop, gaining him a second nomination for Best African Act, at the 2012 MOBO Awards. He was also nominated for Best African Act for the third time at the 2013 MOBO awards.
Mathambo’s early work included collaborations with South African producer Sibot, who also worked with Okmalumkoolkat on “Nice Shandees”. He is house music pioneer who has worked on the likes of Township Funk, and describes himself as “misunderstood”
Spoek is spiky. He is giving nothing away – answering often in monosyllables or in bland, stock answers. Otherwise “weird question!” is his mantra both during the live interview and in the email follow-up. Whether the question is about the group’s dynamics, their inspiration, South Africa or more personal, there’s often a hint of a lip curl.
Having already put out one excellent album in 2015 with his band Fantasma, South African producer, rapper, songwriter, and director Spoek Mathambo’s most recent move has been a documentary series called Future Sound of Mzansi. The documentaries explore South Africa’s contemporary electronic music landscape, looking into the past, present, and (naturally) future sounds to have come from SA across a multitude of movements and subgenres.
In 2016, he was listed one of The Most Influential South African Electronic Artists of All Time. Spoek Mathambo & Cambel Nomi played in Berlin at the opening of SAVVY Contemporary’s THE INCANTATION OF THE DISQUIETING MUSE (is part of the African Futures project initiated by the Goethe-Institut. It’s the TURN Fund of the German Federal Arts Foundation) a project on Divinity, Supra-Realities or the Exorcisement of Witchery, which deliberates around concepts of the supranatural beyond Western misconceptions – through an exhibition, performances, lectures, and other invocations. The project looks at how ‘witchery’ phenomena and practices manifest themselves within cultural, economical, political, religious and scientific spaces in Africa and beyond.
In February 2017, Spoek Mathambo announced first album in five years, shared new single “I Found U”.The 12-track collection follows 2012’s Sub Pop LP Father Creeper (plus 2013 mixtape Escape From ’85) and is described as a project that “explores and subverts modern African sonic landscapes.” out 14 April on Teka Records.
Mzansi Beat Code is full of collaborations – Mathambo works with lots of names including Kajama, Loui Lvndn, Langa Mavuso, Damao, Jumping Back Slash, Ceci Bastida, and Pegasus Warning.
“The album interludes and skits play with ideas of media,” says Mathambo of the samples on the album. “I record a lot of sounds with my dictaphone, steal clips from YouTube… everything clashes to express things that are so specific and local yet global… nostalgic yet right now, or at least yesterday.”
In February 16, 2018, Spoek Mathambo Introduced Afro-House Group BATUK from Johannesburg, South Africa, the group have launched themselves into the global market since their inception in 2015, playing to over 100 000 people in over 15 countries [ranging from the UK, to Mozambique, to Poland] and the new year promises to bring more of the same paired with plenty of the new.
At times, the music included in Mzansi Beat Code is extremely appealing, populist without being obvious. Tracks like Want Ur Love and I Found U, which feature Kajama (the singing sisters, Nandi and Nongoma Ndlovu) and members of Fantasma (guitarist Andre Geldenhuys, multi-instrumentalist Bhekisenzo Cele and Bacardi house mastermind, DJ Spoko) consisting of deep house grooves, lewd and soulful lyrics, are transfixing and will no doubt hook into the listeners
Mshini Wam (2010)
Father Creeper (2012)
Escape from ’85 (2013)
Eye of the Sun (EP) (with Fantasma) (2014)
Free Love (2LP) (with Fantasma) (2015)
Mzansi Beat Code (2017)
Since 2006 . His labels: Sub Pop BBE Records (former). Spoek Mathambo, has been dedicated to sharing his vision of Afrofuturism with the world. He has performed his psychedelic blend of township tech, electronica, hip-hop, punk and soul for audiences on five continents, as a “proudly African, always progressive”.
Future Sound of Mzansi is not an exhaustive history of South Africa’s electronic music, but it is an in-depth look at some of the producers pushing electronic music in innovative directions who are emerging from the country today.
With all three parts of the documentary now on YouTube, Spoek has given us a more personal look into some of his favourite sounds from South Africa released within living memory.
Some of his favorite moments in South African electronic music (by other artistes) DESCRIBED AS a set of classics that he has enjoyed over the last 10 years and more
Some of his favourite musicians are Iggy Pop, Miriam Makeba, Bad Brains, Makhendlas, Fela Kuti and DJ Cleo but he doesn’t put anyone on a pedestal.