Audio

South African Electronic Music Meets Kenyan Samples in Sibot's Latest EP

South African electronic mainstay Sibot shares his new EP 'L'— the second iteration from his ongoing album.

South African electronic music mainstay, Sibot, is a sonic enigma who refuses to box his sound in one genre.


His latest three-track EP, L, sees him sampling some sounds he collected in Kenya. L is part of an ongoing series, which will, when complete, form the album V.L.D.T. The previous iteration featured mostly bass-influenced songs, while the latest one is mostly house-influenced.

Below, we talk to the producer about releasing music in bits, traveling to Kenya, what inspires his sound, how electronic music can integrate South Africa, among other things.

What's the meaning of the name of the project L?

V.L.D.T. is the whole project. This being the second release. I've been writing really diverse sounds, and wanted to create a project to capture these sounds. The first bass release is definitely closer to what I've been making and wanted to start the project familiar and then slide out.

The previous project was mostly bass, while this one is house. Was that intentional?

The idea is to make pockets of tracks that work together as an EP, and then interweave them as an eclectic album. The different sounds is intentional.

Why are you releasing a whole album in bits and pieces?

I was inspired by the idea of an ongoing album. Once the first is released there isn't an end, and it needs to be made—making the project inspire itself and also give people something more than just one album.

There's no telling what your next project will sound like. Where do you get inspiration for the kind of music you choose for a particular project?

As a producer I'm in love with almost all music. I make a lot of different music, but currently artists are usually expected to rep one or two sounds. I wanted to mess with the traditional album and split it into different sounds. More open-minded people will like more EPs while the purists might like one. I really wanna build on this style and have a great thread beyond this series.

L has a strong African influence. Can you explain this move?

I don't think it was a “move,” but I've been heavily influenced by kwaito from a young age. I've put out more straight kwaito and house, but this was a bit of a departure from that. It's there, but I wanted more of a melodic bed. Definitely influenced by artist like Cuebur, Aero Manyelo, Four Tet, Tourist and Jamie xx.

Last year I travelled through Kenya collecting the sounds of the 42 tribes for a job, and managed to meet the most beautiful people in the world and hear their songs. Two of the tracks feature samples I collected in Kenya. Kenya struck a chord heavily with me, and I will be back for more collaborations.

I met Blinky Bill this year, and we got some stuff in the system. Our plan is to form a nice little bridge between Kenya and South Africa through underground electronic scenes.

Electronic music is big in South Africa, especially in Cape Town. What more growth do you feel the scene still needs?

Music can play a huge role of integrating South Africans, and is unfortunately not doing enough. The biggest changes will be integrating all the scenes naturally, so we see EDM, house and hip-hop all with big stages at events.

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This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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