Bantwanas are in excellent form releasing their latest podcast this week. For this month they have selected ARCO signee, Bruce Loko, to take us on another journey through the sounds of Bantwanas. The talented producer has received mentorship from Kalawa Jazmee co-founder Don Laka as well as Atjazz Record Company owner, and legend in his own right, Martin Iveson.
Loko released his first EP titled 'Plutonic' on Martin’s label and later worked at Red Bull Studios, Cape Town where he produced his second EP, 'Drago'. It didn’t end there though, one of his tracks were picked up by one of the most respected guys in South African music industry, Kid Fonque, and the track featured on Red Bull Summer Edition compilation. He has since played some of the finest events and festivals in the country and will continue his stride next week on the Red Bull stage at Oppikoppi festival. We caught up with the talented artist to chat about what's happening in the world of Bruce Loko.
Firstly can you tell us a bit about yourself, where exactly in Mpumalanga are you from? And where are you currently based ?
My full names are Nkosenhle Bruce Lokothwayo, a chilled guy that loves life and wants to live it to the fullest. I originate from a very small township called Breyten and I am currently based in Johannesburg.
Mpumalanga always seems to produce some really stand-out artist like Shangaan Electro. Who were your local heroes that inspired you?
Haha Let me not lie, I had no inspiration back then. I, myself, did not know I was capable of this.
How has your homeland influenced your sound and style? And how did you transgress out of these small time vibe and get yourself out there?
Originating from a small township made me want to produce emotion filled music for the people to spread the love. When I moved from my hometown to the concrete jungle to study civil engineering - which is the hardest course at university - music was my sanctuary, my niche, and it helped me to cope with the pressure the engineering course brought on me.
We like that you have a jazz & soul influence, which artist/composers have had an impact on you?
Growing up I was influenced by jazz music, and having the opportunity to be in the same studio with Don Laka, watching him produce other phenomenal musicians around SA/international, made me fall in love with music as a whole.
I remember when I was younger I used to mimic everything he played and every track he produced. One day, he told me that I have a good ear for music and that I could be one of the greatest artists if I learnt to play at least one instrument. That's where I considered producing music. Even though I only attended two piano classes (Lol), I surprisingly felt so ready to make music. Eventually, I learnt to play via YouTube ;)
We heard that you were mentored by the legendary Don Laka? How did that come about? And what knowledge did you gain from him?
We are family, and as I've said before, I've always looked up to him. He is the founder of my musical career, and he made me believe that a young boy from a small township could actually make it in the music industry. He's quite a smart man, very open-minded and interesting to talk to. I mean you can chill with Don for ten hours straight, and you wouldn't even notice how long it has been. He has so many stories to talk about, like how he discovered some of the best artists in the country. From him I've learned that you can do what you love and get paid for it. You can travel the world and spread your positive energy.
You released your first EP 'Plutonic' last year on Atjazz Recording Company, How did that come about? And what inspired you to compile this EP?
My first encounter with Martin Iveson was quite a funny one, I mean, I grew up listening to him, he inspired me, and I told my friends that one day I'd be signed to his label. I vividly remember when we met. Red Bull hosted a workshop in Rosebank and at the time I didn't have money to go check it out, but I had a strong feeling that this would be the perfect time to meet him personally, instead of emailing him.
So I asked a friend to take me to the workshop, and I brought along a disc consisting of my personal tracks, which I had kept for many years specifically for him to listen to. And I asked him to sign my laptop with a permanent marker, lol... And he was shocked and I told him my name and gave him the disc. The following year he replied with a long, heartfelt email telling me that I reminded him of himself from 10 years back. What an honour that was!
At the time I was in love with geotechnical engineering, and that's what inspired me to compile the EP. I was fascinated by how rocks are formed, and they really defined my life at that point. I compared it to plutonic rocks - they have good engineering properties, but never make it to the surface, unlike lava. Just like me, I could have been one of the greatest artists, but I was unknown.
You have also spent some time at the Redbull Studio's in Cape Town and produced Drago EP. How did your time at Redbull benefit you?
The experience alone was mind blowing; Red Bull gave me the opportunity to spread my wings. What I like about them is that they believe in unknown artists, and now I'm lucky enough to perform with great international and local artists around the country.
You're currently working on another EP for Kid Fonque and Jullian Gome's new label Stay True Sounds. Can you tell us a little about to expect?
All I can say is that it's "AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY".
You have been announced to play at Oppikoppi in August, what are your feelings around the gig?
Oppikoppi is one of the best festivals in South Africa, so it's quite humbling to get the opportunity to share my positive energy on the Red Bull stage. I'm really looking forward to performing at this incredible festival.
We can't help but notice how successful you have become over past few years. It reminds us of the progression of artists like Jazzuelle, The Lazarusman, Jullian Gomes and Trancemicsoul. What does it mean to you to be part of the new wave?
Firstly it even humbles me to be acknowledged in a category with such great artists. I know all of them personally, and they are very hard working artists. I never knew that I could shape a sound that interests other human beings, so for me, it has been an unexpected journey
What was your direction with the latest Bantwanas podcast?
It has been an "unexpected journey" for me, (which is the title of my forthcoming EP on Stay True Sounds) from starting with a jazzy/soul background to making electronic, deep house, to techno music. On this mix, I managed to tell a story about my life using all these genres and created something new from them. My previous EP titled AFTER DARK also dropped on Stay True Sounds at the beginning of the year. I was always optimistic and hoping to see the light at the end of the tunnel, only to find out that after finding this light, I would go on an unexpected journey, and I share that journey through this podcast.
Besides yourself, are there any other artists should we keep our eye on in the future?
Yea... Deav Martian from Stay True Sounds is definitely going to blow your mind. Watch out for all the artists on Stay True Sounds.
What's your favourite track at the moment?
Bruce Loko - An unexpected journey ;)
What can we look forward to from you in future?
The EP 'An Unexpected Journey' in few months and an album next year on Stay True Sounds.
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