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When I first streamed a Boiler Room session, it was Jamie XX on a rooftop somewhere in England with 30 people dancing awkwardly while seemingly trying to be the coolest of the cool. It seemed like this untouchable exclusive event that only celebrities and artists could attend and we just got to stream the DJ set at home.
I never imagined that I would get to attend Boiler Room, and not only that but that they would host a purely local line up that displays some of South Africa’s finest house and gqom DJ/producers (Maphorisa, Da Capo) as well as fantastic up and coming artists (Symantix, Moonchild Sanelly). And to top it all off, this was the finalé of a tour that went from Cape Town to Douala in Cameroon to Nairobi in Kenya and ended off in Johannesburg.
Each Boiler Room session made sure to feature relevant artists that exemplify the progressive cultures of music unique to that city and country. DJs and artists know that if they get the chance to perform on Boiler Room, their set is going into the digital archives for everyone to see and that means they’re gonna give it their all.
Parties aside, Boiler Room also hosted thoughtfully curated panels under the guise of what the call a “True Music Forum”. During the Joburg panel titled “How is digital catalysing Africa’s creatives?”, Muthoni Drummer Queen revealed that the Nairobi Boiler Room session hit over four million live streams. These impressive statistics prove Boiler Room’s power and willingness to feature exciting African artists from across the continent to the rest of the world.
The energy at Boiler Room Johannesburg was fire. A sense of pure pride in gqom, kwaito and South African house. Every single person responding to the beat dropping with howls and whistles. The vibrations making gqom feel real, raw and brutal – created by futuristic musical pioneers of the South African urban scene.
Boiler Room succeeds in capturing genuine artistry and showed they’re immersed in the relevant and powerful genres speaking to the underground and making waves to shake the surface. It’s very easy to lack integrity when an organisation is removed from the depths of a local scene, coming from overseas, however I left Boiler Room having heard, seen and learned new things that prove to me that Boiler Room and Ballantine’s are invested in promoting African creatives by creating platforms to share ideas but most importantly, music.
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