Str.Crd festival announces headliners, aims to go national

Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs from Street Etiquette. (Supplied)

Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs from Street Etiquette. (Supplied)

From modest beginnings at the Cape Town Station in 2010 to attracting thousands of fashion and music loving young people in Johannesburg, South Africa’s urban youth festival Str.Crd returns for the fifth time. The three-day weekend event from November 7 to 9 is set to once again be a platform for local fashion brands, musicians and artists. 

But beyond that, the organisers of the street cultural festival plan to move Str.Crd outside the parameters of Constitution Hill – where it is being held for the second year. “Next year we’re going national, to reach out to more kids around South Africa,” says Mandla Mazibuko, Str.Crd’s project director on Tuesday, who adds that the event is expecting “anything between 7 500 to 10 000 people” on the days open to the public. 

In the past, Str.Crd – which moved to Maboneng Precinct in 2011 – has hosted website founders of  Street Etiquette, musicians like Theophilus London and Spoek Mathambo and featured brands such as Super Glasses and Dickies.
While Dutch fashion label Patta is a Str.Crd guest this year. However, Mazibuko says the showcase doesn’t pride itself on only being a music platform. “Str.Crd is not really a music festival and we’re also not a genre specific festival,” he says of the show, which will host New York duo Electric Punanny, which features Jasmine Solano and Melo-X. The brainchild of entrepreneur Hardy McQueen, this year’s showcase features pop-up clothing stores by local and international brands, a masterclass and a fashion show as well as its ongoing year-long mentorship programme called New Creative Lab. 

We caught up Mazibuko to find out more about the festival. 

What can audiences look forward to seeing at Str.Crd next month?
Musically, of course it’s Electric Punanny. On the fashion side, we have the international brands that have participated in the past like Onitsuka Tiger and Vans, but we have a nice mix of local brands too. For example we have labels from Cape Town such as Head Honcho and Two Bop, and Saviour Brand from Durban, just to name a few. And besides fashion? We’ll be showcasing a basketball competition called  Full Court 21, which was conceptualised by legendary DJ Bobbito Garcia. The winner of this event will be invited to the US to participate in the New York edition of Full Court 21. Str.Crd will also be presenting a new concept called New Tomorrow Music, which will be a Friday night concert at Con Hill. And this is where our headline acts will perform; it will cost R350 to watch this show.

Str.Crd is hosted at a culturally and politically rich site – Constitution Hill – in the same year that the country marks its 20th year of democracy. Is the festival doing anything to recognise this? 
This year we’ve partnered up the Norwegian embassy with creative collective I See A Different You. As Norway celebrates its Constitution’s bicentennial, it’s great to note that in the past Norway was in support of anti-apartheid movements. So the Norwegian embassy sent I See A Different You to Norway and they got to take some photos and engage with the youth there. And from this an exhibition will be up at Str.Crd, marking the 20th of SA’s democracy and the 200 years of Norway’s independence.

There are quite a few international music acts and brands at this this year’s show. But what is Str.Crd doing to make this a uniquely South African experience?
What makes Str.Crd, are the young South Africans that come to the festival. it’s an ongoing engagement between Str.Crd and our 18- to 25-year-old core market who are concentrated around Braamfontein and the rest of the city. Another uniquely local element is our guest creative director, artist Lazi Mathebula of Greyspaces – who is designing a new logo for Str.Crd. Each year we associate with a young talent and showcase his or her work. That’s our way of investing in the creative community. 

Of all the artistic expressions, why does fashion resonate so much with the festival?
Fashion has always been quite a strong voice of the festival, mainly because Johannesburg has such a unique sense of style. There’s a distinctiveness in the way we’ve embraced our cultural heritage, that is expressed quite strongly through fashion. A lot of South African kids are finding an expression through fashion. So this year we’ll put on The Showroom, where brands, fashion buyers and the media can engage to do business or Q&As. We’ll also be hosting a street-fashion show with Marie Claire.

Can you tell us more about brand-culture conference Engagement Now, which will be taking place ahead of Str.Crd?
Engagement Now is a separate entity to Str.Crd but we partner up with them. Str.Crd has always had street talks and workshops, but there aren’t any this year except for one masterclass with Edson Sabajo, founder of the Patta label. Most of the guests who are speaking at Engagement Now are relevant to Str.Crd. So it’s almost a precursor to Str.Crd.

Str.Crd touts itself as an event that celebrates global street culture. But how accessible and inclusive is it to the average Jo’burger? 
Previously, like last year, we didn’t charge any entrance fee. But this year it’s R50 if you register on our website and buy your ticket there. If you don’t, then it’s R150 at the door. So it’s pretty accessible. But we do acknowledge that there’s a bigger Str.Crd movement that needs to happen, that’s why next year we’re doing four editions of Str.Crd: Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. So we’re going national to reach out to more kids around South Africa, and create more of an appetite for this type of cultural activity.

How does Str.Crd aim to give back to South Africans in the fashion, visual art and music industry? 
Out of Str.Crd was born a creative incubator called New Creative Lab. This started last year, where we selected five creative brands that were mentored by myself and Hardy for a one-year period. We’ve highlighted and nurtured these brands, and in turn they got a chance to showcase at the event last year. There are so many great starter brands out there, but they might not have a platform or the know-how to grow or take the next step – hence New Creative Lab. 

STR.CRD 2013 from STR.CRD on Vimeo.

For more information, visit strcrd.com.

stefanie jason

stefanie jason

Following studying towards her Film & Media degree at the University of Cape Town and North Carolina State University, Stefanie Jason began work as a copy editor and writer for various South African publications, including Bona, True Love and Sowetan, as well as the Mail & Guardian. For the M&G's arts & culture supplement Friday, she writes about art, music & lifestyle when she isn't relaxing, traveling or checking out Jo'burg's many art galleries. Read more from stefanie jason

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