Introducing Joburg's Ambient Beatmaker Hlasko

Joburg producer Hlasko is our latest ambient obsession. Listen to his latest "Hope You Come" and get to know the South African beatmaker in our Q&A.

It wasn't long after we were introduced to the ambient sounds of Hlasko, a new name in Joburg beatmaking, that we became devotees. His meditational productions still have us reeling from an office-wide, "Lotus Flower"-like trance. We knew very little about the producer behind this sudden surge in computerized lo-fi delights — we wanted answers, and we got them directly from the daze-inducing artist. Get to know Hlasko and acquaint yourself with his beatmaking CV below.

OKA: There's an air of mystery surrounding your work. Are you new to music-making? Where did you come from?

Hlasko: I wouldn't say I'm new to music-making, I'd always gotten a kick off of humming tunes and banging on things, I only began fooling around with composing on a computer program in 2011, got addicted to it (literally) and began recording since then. Where it comes from, I don't really know, my grandfather who's nickname I use a pseudonym used to be a composer and was classically trained, I guess he just keeps sending me tunes and I respond by putting them out.

OKA: Describe your personal style:

Hlasko: Donnie Darko works as a printmaker.

OKA: Who are some producers you're into?

Hlasko: I really respect the whole nineties Trip Hop and Ambient scene, Tricky (of course), Mathew Herbert, Geoff Barrow, Liam Howe and currently South African producers are doing everything right, Apple Sawc, Richard the Third, LV, Felix Laband, much respect!

OKA: Why use Yayoi Kusama for your cover art?

Hlasko: Yayoi owns my soul right now, I think she has an incredible way of expressing herself through her work, and I completely relate to that. I sorta enjoy the idea of being camouflaged within a work and allowing a space to consume you. Self-obliteration is to me as infinitely exciting as time travel, I like to explore that within my work too.

OKA: What's your favorite neighborhood in Joburg?

Hlasko: Norwood, I often visit some of my favorite people there. It's quiet and there's a really great bookstore there, a bit dead, but I love it.

OKA: What kind of car do you drive?

Hlasko: I do not have one yet. I walk a lot.

OKA: What's your favorite sneaker label?

Hlasko: Converse, they own me. for now.

OKA: Where do you get your hair cut?

Hlasko: I cut my hair myself, mirror, clippers, done.

OKA: Where would you like to be 5 years from now?

Hlasko: On stage with Under Byen.


Angelique Kidjo Writes a Love Letter to 'Mother Nature'

We talk to the Beninese musical icon about assembling her new album on Zoom and the "bigger than COVID-19" threat that lies ahead!

The kind of infectious energy that lives within Angelique Kidjo can't be contained by Zoom. Her zest for life reaches out far beyond any screen, and burns stronger than the fastest internet connection.

"I can't wait until we're in person hugging again," she enthuses soon after joining our Zoom meeting to discuss her latest album Mother Nature. Having been on the receiving end of a hug from the four-time Grammy-winning singer, I know exactly what I'm missing out on. "Me too," I say, as I wrap my arms around my laptop, my face squishing the screen. "No, no," she retorts. "I don't want that. You keep it. I want the real deal," she chuckles, her full-bodied trademark laughter lovingly admonishing me.

The Benin-born musician is preparing to release Mother Nature, a collection of songs reflecting our one Earth, and cementing her status as an African musical icon. Collaborating with the likes of Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy, Sampa the Great, Shungudzo and more, Kidjo's crossing through time and space, over age and country through Mother Nature's themes and stories. Each track is infused with a vigor that only she possesses — the kind that shares a significant message even as the listener is called to just dance or sing along.

Below, Angelique Kidjo reminisces about making the album, and chats us through her hopes and dreams for it!

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