Over the past two years, the coastal city of Durban in South Africa has spearheaded the sound of the rapidly growing gqom scene. Throughout Durban townships, the percussive mixture of hip-hop and house elements had primarily spread through a series of file-sharing sites, with Facebook groups and WhatsApp threads acting as hotspots for sharing artists’ latest creations. In one of gqom’s more fascinating ascents, local taxi companies – in an attempt to seem more attractive to rival departments – started playing gqom in their minivans, as wonderfully highlighted in the YouTube documentary Woza Taxi – Gqom Secret Stash Out Of The Locations. In the same way the internet and social sharing helped gqom reach new audiences throughout Durban, gqom soon found itself spreading across the globe, with labels and journalists in London and Rome quickly championing the sound. One of the genre’s most prominent producers – a merit that’s propelled his reputation as the ‘King of Gqom’ – is DJ Lag. Our 194nd Truancy Volume is a storming snapshot of the relentless dynamism of gqom and DJ Lag’s masterful presentation of the sound. We’re incredibly proud to have a true pioneer as part of the series and we had the pleasure of speaking to DJ Lag about the mix he has kindly provided us with.
Who or what inspired you to first start making music? “I used to go with my cousin to the studio where he recorded his music, and that’s where I saw beats being made. The guy who was producing for my cousin gave me the program Fruity Loops, but at that time I didn’t have a computer so I kept the CD until my mother bought me a computer when I started high school in 2009. The rest is history.”
I’ve seen you play a few times now and you’re such a brilliantly technical DJ! When did you start DJing? “I started deejaying 2012 when I was still in high school and I’ve developed my own techniques and mixing style since then.”
You’ve been doing a lot of shows in Europe recently, how do the crowds compare to Durban? “The crowds here are insane. It’s very different. Most of them haven’t heard this music before in their lives, so when they hear it, they lose their minds.”
I feel like a lot of people in the UK in particular are big fans of gqom. Were you surprised at how receptive people were to the sound when you first went there? “I was really surprised to see something that I started in my bedroom is making people go crazy around the world. It’s unreal.”
Is there anywhere in particular that stands out as somewhere you’ve really enjoyed playing or visiting? “London is always the best for me when it comes to support and the best crowds!”
How has gqom been developing in Durban in the last year or so? “The scene is crazy now because gqom was an underground genre, but now big artists like Babes Wodumo, Big Nuz & Okmalumkoolkat are getting in to gqom and it’s starting to infiltrate the main stream, so I think the future of gqom is bigger than we can predict.”
What music have you got coming up next? Any more releases lined up? “Yes, I’m releasing my next EP next year with Goon Club Allstars. Get ready to start 2018 with some hard, strong gqom tracks.”