#BehindTheNoise: We shine a spotlight on Tourmaline Berg, booking agent, band manager, and straight-up business hustler

Last week was a really good week for Texx & the City. We were churning out wholesome content, and peeps were here for it. Our #BehindTheNoise campaign, especially, had been getting a lot of support.

But then we got to the end of the week and I was exhausted. So Tecla, my bomb-ass boss, gave me Friday off.

We decided we’d start this Monday by ending off our #BehindTheNoise campaign and spreading some more love. This time in the direction of band manager and booking agent Tourmaline Berg.

Music has always been a big part of Tourmaline’s life, “My parents brought us up with music playing all the time, everyday. So I knew that I’d get in there somehow, just didn’t think it’d ever be to this capacity.” She tells me about her parents’ love for all things punk and the alternative scene, and all the parties her parents would take her and her brother to, a favourite being Obs Fest, “We [her and her brother] were really young – I was like seven years old – dancing with the bergies in front of the stage.”

Straight out of high school, Tourmaline hopped a plane and headed off overseas for a two-year stint in London. While she was there, she did a short course in photography and when she arrived back in Cape Town, she did another short course, this time in Event Management.

She made her first move in the music business direction with a solid fake-it-’til-you-make-it approach, “Good friends of mine started a band called Jakkals and they were like ‘Tourms, we know you love music. Do you wanna be a part of this team and manage us?’ and I was like ‘Fuck, never done anything like it but yeah, let’s learn together. And from there it just sort of grew.”

I wonder what title she goes by and what her business card looks like, “I mean, technically I’d say music manager, artist manager, booking agent, events coordinator and festival worker… a long business card. Basically I’d just say – “Music Lady Hustling”.

Her hustle includes managing bookings for ten other local acts – Bye Beneco, Bakai, The World of Birds, Amy Ayanda, etc. – but her face especially lights up when she talks about Diamond Thug, “I know I’m mentioning them a lot but they’re my babies. Huge proud-mama-bear vibes.”

We throwback to 2012, when she just started out managing Diamond Thug – Danilo [Queiros] and Chantal [Van T] had just started the project as a hip hop duo. “Chantal’s always wanted to rap for some reason… but I think that was the only show they did in that way before they realised that they needed to play instruments.” I make a mental note to ask Chantal to rap for me the next time I see her.

From making big things happen with the Naas Collective to coordinating and booking back-to-back European tours, she doesn’t have an off switch. I ask what her favourite thing is about her job and she can’t stop smiling, “What makes me very warm in my heart is watching my artists play and getting that fucking cheer from the crowd. My favourite thing is looking around the audience and just seeing people’s faces and their reactions. I get goosebumps!”

Navigating the local and international music scene is bound to be a bumpy ride so I ask her about some of the hardest lessons she’s had to learn. “Yoh, don’t give up! Just keep trying to keep your head up high most of the time, as difficult as it is. You’re putting yourself out to the world and saying ‘fuck, I hope you like me’, so the biggest thing is trying to stay positive and keep on going. And patience – with people, with the world, with my artists.”

We touch on some of the ladies she looks up to in the industry, “I mean Tecla [Ciolfi]. And I’m not just saying this but she’s been one of the OGs you know, from the get-go. And then Angela Weickl. I’ve known her since Monday Mercury days, since Armchair days, since I was in high school. The stuff that she’s trying to do and create for women in this scene, it’s just incredible!”

My favourite thing about #BehindTheNoise is that not only do all the ladies involved know each other, but they acknowledge each other’s achievements and contributions. This is something I think we could be better about as fellow artists and consumers of local music. Tourmaline agrees, saying, “We need to support each other. Towards the end of last year I was feeling very frustrated in this country and I was like ‘Why are the bands and the artists not trying to work together more?’ The scene is far too small to try and compete. The only way it’s gonna work is if we’re sharing and supporting each other.”

Admittedly, this is something I could be better at. This is something I want to be better at. It’s as simple as sharing each other’s events, not just our own. Or maybe even just sending a fellow artist, manager, or venue owner a message to say “I see you and I appreciate what you do.”

I want to end off this campaign with a few thank-yous and I-see-yous: Zethu Gqola, Christelle Duvenage, Kay Faith, Bea Theron, and Tourmaline Berg, thank you for sharing your stories with us.

To all the bands, DJs, festivals, venues, photographers, designers, booking agents, managers, journalists, and PR managers – we see you.

And to all the women in my life – I see you, I love you and I need you.

Check out Part 1 of #BehindTheNoise with Zethu Gqola.

Check out Part 2 of #BehindTheNoise with Christelle Duvenage.

Check out Part 3 of #BehindTheNoise with Kay Faith.

Check out Part 4 of #BehindTheNoise with Bea Theron.