Last winter I was lucky enough to visit two of the most beautiful cities in the world: Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.
Both cities have many things in common. Besides the energy, the light and natural beauty, electronic music is playing a very important social role in disadvantaged communities. More specifically, in favela Rocinha and in the townships surrounding Johannesburg and Cape Town.
This helped me reconnect with the real reason I started working in music. By making music our job we can often forget the real values that motivated us to start working in this. It’s something we should avoid. All of us usually start working in music because of how it makes us feel and I’ll tell you why I felt something special with music once again.
In both cities, I visited the more underdeveloped areas (the favelas in Rio and the townships in Cape Town) and I discovered how far electronic music can reach nowadays and how positive it can be for a community that is lacking many resources. It can be motivating, inspiring, it can bring everyone together and it can make everyone smile and enjoy the moment. Wherever you are, that´s the real power of music.
In Rio I met Zezinho, a Brazilian musician who’d returned from Canada to start a dj school in the favela he grew up in. Although he earned a living as a dj outside his country, he thought it would be a great idea to return and help the new generations at his home favela. Spin Rocinha is the name of this school, offering the younger kids a great opportunity to find new motivations in life. Don´t forget to contact him if you ever visit Rio.
In Cape Town I was lucky enough to go to a party that is held every Sunday at a bar called Mzolis in the middle of Gugulethu township. Mzolis has been open for 30 years and every Sunday the locals meet there to roast some meat and listen to music. What a surprise! There was a dj there, playing some wicked house at 120 bpm. A big sound system was turning the place upside down. I was shocked to listen to such a good house music and to see how people were really giving it all. An idea immediately came into my head: show this place to world class artists, to connect these two apparently distant worlds which in reality are joined by music. This would offer to the locals the opportunity of connecting with their stars and it would also send a very positive message to the world.
I started researching and meeting the local artists who told me about their personal experience and the movement that appeared on the back of deep house, with artists such as Black Coffee and new generations of artists such as Culoe de Song or Jullian Gomes. You could say that deep house is THE SOUND of the townships. Everything I heard was so interesting that I decided to record a documentary that portrayed this experience and the contrasts I found in a city where house music has once again managed to bring together people from different races after Apartheid had separated them. It was really special to listen to the local artists explain how music has become a vehicle for integration and motivation. My friend Gianni Aragno helped me out coordinating this documentary, which will be released very soon.
Things can be easy when you’re in the right place and you have the right contacts but they can be difficult otherwise. So, I started thinking about developing a network to connect these areas with other places in the world, building bridges for music.
That is how the idea for Bridges for Music came to me. A platform I’m working on and which will see the light soon.
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