Music for more than the masses

In what can be described as "a musical tour" of Cape Town, Design Indaba is putting on a host of musical experiences set in multiple spacious and intimate venues across as many musical genres as you would care to name, over three days.

"After last year's joint venture with Spain's Sónar festival, we set about thinking of ways to re-imagine a music festival for this year," said Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo. The result is the event's inaugural Design Indaba Music Circuit.

As with previous Design Indaba music events, the diverse line-up of acts includes long-established and rising musicians, producers and DJs. The deciding factor behind curation is that their art must be unique or pioneering in their chosen field of music and wholly representative of the "sound of South Africa".

Each venue has been handpicked as being true to its core audience. So whether it is absorbing the spectacle of South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela sharing the stage with American jazz-fusion rock pianist Larry Willis in the intimacy of The Mahogany Room jazz bar (tickets limited to 50), or getting sweaty on The Assembly's dance floor to 10SUI (UK), Spoek Mathambo, Haezer, Gazelle and Niskerone, the Design Indaba Music Circuit will cater to every musical taste.

Members of the public can buy presale tickets online at, or at the door.

Music Circuit Programme

Wednesday February 27 Rock 'n Roll at Aces 'n Spades
The first public event on the music circuit is a free gig at Aces 'n Spades (62 Hout Street, Cape Town CBD) at 8.30pm. Swamp-rockers The Dollfins perform alongside retro-rock stars Taxi Violence and current darlings of the experimental-indie scene Beast.

Thursday February 28 Live DJs at Jade Champagne Bar & Lounge
The party moves to Jade (39 Main Road, Green Point) at 8.30pm, starting with a set by Jade's resident DJ, and followed by the electro-rap stylings of Jam Jarr and the indie-electro groove of DJ Tommy Gun.

Live music at Zula Sound Bar
On Thursday at 8pm, over at Zula (98 Long Street, Cape Town CBD), things get eclectic with singer-songwriter Joshua Grierson, The Nomadic Orchestra (think: gypsy wedding party band) and The Brother Moves On (Johannesburg art collective that also makes music). Later Canadian-born South African lyricist Zaki Ibrahim blends beats with Mr Sakitumi's world-renowned sense of electronic sound composition, before DJs Fletcher and Honey B take the stage for a vision of where bass-driven dance music is headed in 2013 (and beyond). Tickets cost R100. Online ticket sales are open.

Friday March 1 Live jazz at The Mahogany Room
South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela appears on stage with American jazz-fusion pianist extraordinaire Larry Willis at an intimate set at The Mahogany Room (79 Buitenkant Street, Gardens). This once-in-a-lifetime jazz maestro's jam session starts at 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm). Tickets cost R200. Book early to avoid disappointment. 

Lounge session at The Waiting Room
The same night The Waiting Room (273 Long Street, Cape Town CBD) plays host to the sounds of techno-house DJ Floyd Lavine (recently returned from London) and Anthea Scholtz (lady techno DJ with a smooth touch). Pieter-Jan Pieters, who will also be speaking at Design Indaba Conference this year, is here from Belgium to construct sounds for feet to dance to as part of DJ duo Obscure. To end the night Hyphen drops heavy bass on fans of drum 'n bass. Entry is R50 a person and doors open at 8.30pm. There is limited capacity at the venue so buy tickets now.

Electro/Afro-funk at The Assembly
Also on Friday at 8.30pm, the music circuit presents The Assembly (61 Harrington Street, East City Precinct) and a who's who of the local electronic music scene — gone global. From the United Kingdom, the "first lady of breaks", 10SUI, brings her feminine charm and electronic soul to the dance floor. Spoek Mathambo (also speaking at Design Indaba conference) takes over to show us why he is our current hottest global music export.

Haezer later displays his musical mash-up skills, before the finely tuned synth-pop Afro-disco that characterises Gazelle truly gets the dance floor loaded. To end the night Cape Town's best-loved drum 'n bass hero Niskerone sees the party through to its conclusion. Entrance to this event is R100 a person. Online ticket sales are open.

Expo Events Arena
On Friday evening from 6pm to 8pm visitors to Design Indaba Expo will also experience a taste of the music circuit as the Events Arena plays host to several live performances by a selection of artists and bands. Tickets to the Expo cost R70. Opening hours are from 10am to 8pm.

Wednesday February 27 to Friday March 1 Design Indabar
In addition to all these events is a series of shows hosted on the evenings of Design Indaba conference on the grassy knoll opposite the Cape Town International Convention Centre, at the pop-up-bar-meets-mobile gallery that is Design Indabar. These shows feature a host of South Africa's premier musical talents – including The Plastics, AF.Botz, Lady M, Wild Eastern Arches, Kimon, Mix 'n Blend, Mann Friday, Bilderberg Motel and Toby2shoes — and are exclusive to conference delegates and Design Indaba Expo exhibitors.

Artists on the music circuit 10SUI (UK)
Not every DJ/producer gets props from original break beat kings the Stanton Warriors, so when they dole out praise people take notice. They have accredited 10SUI with "adding feminine charm and electronic soul" to the dance scene. Not content to sit back and indulge in the praise of her peers, 10SUI traverses the globe evolving her skills in the music industry and pushing her chosen genre forward with impeccable remixes, fresh productions and slamming DJ sets. She takes to the decks at The Assembly on Friday March 1 at 9pm.

Gazelle turns traditional African music on its head by mixing it up with funk, disco, electro and great outfits. This modern-traditional crossover genre known as "LIM POP" has left a permanent mark on the African music scene and set the global stage alight with its truly unique South African sound. Combine that with Gazelle's spectacular stage theatrics and you have an unforgettable experience. Take a trip down the rabbit-hole to the exciting unknown at The Assembly on Friday March 1 at 1am.

Hugh Masekela (SA) & Larry Willis (USA)
At 73, "Bra Hugh" shows no sign of slowing down and will be putting on an intimate performance at The Mahogany Room. He will be appearing with noted American jazz pianist Larry Willis to perform songs off their latest album, Friends. An audience with South Africa's favourite jazz musician Masekela — trumpeter, composer, band leader, lyricist, two times Grammy-winning artist and arguably South Africa's most noted cultural ambassador-at-large will be an event never to be forgotten.

Zaki Ibrahim (Canada/SA) & Mr Sakitumi (SA)
Canadian-born South African singer-songwriter Zaki Ibrahim creates music thick with poetics and steeped in a delicious mixture of earnest emotion and social commentary. It is not uncommon to find her writing a new album, an accompanying theatre production and a short film — all at the same time. Zaki's multi-dimensional talents as a storyteller, performing artist, director, choreographer, fashion icon and individually talented vocalist have set her apart from her contemporaries on the South African entertainment scene. Be transported to new and forgotten territories when she joins Mr Sakitumi (also known as Sean Ou Tim, of LARK, Goldfish, Freshlyground and Max Normal fame) on stage at Zula Sound Bar on Thursday February 28.

DJ duo Obscure featuring Pieter-Jan Pieters (Belgium)
Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Pieter-Jan Pieters's final-year project "Sound on Intuition" consisted of five instruments that translated people's movement into sound. An arm-waving motion became a wavy sound; a person reaching up, a high note; the tapping of a foot or finger, a rhythm; its tempo, a heartbeat. He will be performing as part of a DJ duo named Obscure, as the third set of the night at Long Street's The Waiting Room on Friday March 1.

Although this article has been made possible by the Mail & Guardian's advertisers, content and photographs were supplied and approved by Design Indaba. It forms part of a larger supplement.

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