The electronic music scene is ever-expanding — from the heydays of African Dope’s pioneering compilations to today’s Soundcloud generation where bedroom producers, DJs and acts can showcase their work with nothing more than a laptop. Throughout it all, there’s been Angela Weickl.
Just who is Angela Weickl? Formerly known as DJ Sideshow, currently known as ANG, Weickl is a busy woman. Current duties involve managing a nightclub as the events promoter and in-house curator. She’s also the founder of a creative agency. But to trace her story it’s best to start at the dawn of the electronic music scene in South Africa.
It’s the turn of the century in Cape Town and there’s a rumbling in the music scene. Rudimentary electronica is emerging out of back-room raves and into the public realm by way of analogue scratch turn-tables, samplers and compact disk jockey (CDJ) equipment. Acts such as Mujava and DJ Spoko are bringing Township Funk to the suburbs on SABC1, and Fletcher is making audiences move to his homegrown brand of dub.
Somewhere in a grimy pub, a plan is being hatched by DJ duo Krushed&Sorted to bring out an all local, all electronica label. This would later become the internationally renowned African Dope Records and feature the likes of The Real Estate Agents (Sibot and Markus Wormstorm), Felix Laband, Godessa and Kalahari Surfers.
At the same time, a quiet and book- ish Weickl was fresh out of high school, reading Student Life, poring through the pages for information on local musos and collecting their music. “I went from not really knowing what I wanted to do to suddenly having a lot of responsibility at a very young age,” she says.
At the age of 21, after a degree in sound engineering and a short stay in the industry, Weickl would find herself in a management position at Obviously Armchair (then called the Independent Armchair Theatre) in Cape Town’s Observatory. It was the early 2000s and Obs was the lovable and loathable bohemian paradise of the city. It was a tightly packed suburb housing mostly student types, dotted with backpackers, low-lit pubs and gritty clubs that were interspersed with a few restaurants and incense-infused trinket shops.
“A couple of my friends, who were the same age, also managed restaurants and clubs on the same road. So it was like this little gangland run by twentysomethings who just worked and drank all night, slept most of the day, woke up and then did it all over again,” recalls Weickl.
The lifestyle couldn’t last forever and, after the loss of a close friend, Weickl decided to pack it in and find a day job — but not before discovering her passion. “I used to curate these playlists for the periods in between gigs at the venue I managed and I’d always get a really good response from people,” she says. “I had always loved music, but I think that’s when the DJing bug first bit.”
A decade later and the “golden era” of electronic music has come and gone. From its fiery wake emerged a new wave of artists.
Avant-garde outfit Max Normal have already surpassed local fame and risen to international heights through their transition into Die Antwoord. Sibot and Markus Wormstorm are musical juggernauts. Felix Laband fell into a temporary silence after two ground-breaking albums, but then returned to the spotlight.
With production technology and software readily available, the new generation of DJs and producers is using the internet as their primary stage.
Weickl, now working at a sound and lighting company, had secured her first prominent gig at one of Cape Town’s top nightclubs and performed under the moniker of DJ Sideshow. “I had always dreamed of playing an Assembly show and a friend had mentioned that they needed an opening act for Fokofpolisiekar [who would later become Van Coke Kartel] and I jumped at the opportunity. That show set a lot of things in motion.”
So much so that Weickl was subsequently contacted by another Cape Town nightclub, Mercury, to play a regular Monday night slot.
“Those sets at Mercury were a very important time in my life, even though back then I played way more and got paid way less, because I was a nobody in comparison. Back then I didn’t even know the value of what I was doing,” she says.
From there on, Weickl’s career only rose. Regular sets at Mercury and The Assembly ensured her name was circulating, a difficult task considering the male-dominated state of the electronic music scene.
A new side project, a slot on Assembly Radio, ensured that she not only kept plugged into the electronic music scene, but also took it by the reins. In 2013 Weickl launched her own live segment, Youngbloodz, which she dedicated to showcasing the city’s burgeoning DJs and producers.
“I think I’ve always had a passion for pushing the local scene,” says Weickl. “Even in my own sets, I play a whole variety of local music stretching from way back in the golden era to the wild and inventive stuff that’s coming from the younger guys.
“It was always tough making it in a scene that’s historically been a boy’s club, but now that I no longer have to prove myself, I take a lot of enjoyment from being able to give the younger crowd of DJs and producers a shot and showing them the tricks of the trade that no one ever cared to show me.”
It’s 2016 and South Africa is as much a dancing nation as it ever was. Only now the sounds populate the online realm and the nightclubs in equal parts. Household names such as Card On Spokes are blending jazz and bass-heavy, synth-laden tracks.
A 20-year-old producer in Pretoria named Buli is reinventing the genre, putting out a heady mix of ambient and experimental electronica, ethereal and hazy enough to sway to, but wild enough on the low end to give something to move to.
In Durban, feverish gqom beats emerge from impromptu parties to land up pressed on to vinyl on international shores through three-piece act Rudeboyz. In every corner of the country original acts, artists and groups are uploading new sounds to a super-saturated electronic music scene.
Weickl recently shed the Sideshow persona and now goes by “ANG”. She manages Fiction night club, has a Cape Town Electronic Music Festival set to her name, and owns a self-founded label and creative agency, The Cult of Maybe, to which she’s signed 15 local acts across a variety of electronic subgenres.
Most recently, Weickl has started hosting her own monthly radio show, which goes by the name of South of the Boredom and is aired internationally on British-based Reform Radio.
Always humble, Weickl speaks calmly of her recent achievement, explaining how the once-off opportunity turned into a permanent gig.
“They initially offered me one two-hour show with the intention of getting some South African music on their show, but I guess they liked what they heard. It’s a great opportunity to push local electronic acts out into an international market and through a highly respected platform too,” she says, letting a bit of that initial excitement shine through. “I’ve even been offered exclusive tracks by some local artists, meaning that the first time they’ll be heard by an audience will be through an international platform, which is just so cool.”
Weickl’s story ends here for now. But as the local electronic music scene grows, reinventing itself and spilling over into new mediums and soundscapes, it’s safe to assume that Weickl will be there too.