Dj Lag: The Ransom Note Mix
This energetic mixtape from DJ Lag reinstates his authority as the King of Gqom ahead of the release of his debut album.
Originating from South Africa, Lwazi Asanda Gwala aka Dj Lag is one of the most definitive producers and DJ’s of the present day. He has helped to inspire a new generation of dancers and musicians with a sound which originated in the townships and has since rocketed into the spotlight.
An innovative producer, Dj Lag has never been one to approach music with the same tried and tested formulas of the past. He’s constantly sought to reinvent not only his sound and style but the process by which his music is distributed and released making it accessible to a fresh faced generation of listeners and dancers. His first material was distributed via Whatsapp and is a far cry from later collaborations with the likes of Beyonce and Tierra Whack.
The underground remains a pivotal part of who Dj Lag is and what he does – releases on the likes of Hyperdub, Dood Enuff and Goon Club Allstars have cemented his place as a key figure in progressive development of bass music culture whilst Dj Lag remains the undisputed King of Gqom.
DJ lag x ndoni-thongo lami
DJ lag-Afro tribe
Deep narrative-hard cong
DJ lag x DJ Tira-Syagroova
Mshayi x MR thela & T-man-shaya
DJ lag-into ongayazi
Rude boyz-no mercy
Omagoqa x cmamane-speed limit
Worst behaviour x DJ lag x Gento-samba ngolayini
DJ lag x Sinjin hawks-raptor
Describe the process behind recording your album, was it a different approach than that of a single?
Are you surprised by how far your music has reached? I am not surprised that people connect to the beat because of how primal it is. You don’t need to follow the words or know the genre to dance to Gqom because the beat does that for you. In the very early days I was surprised that we were making music in the township and it was finding its way to the other side of the world within a matter of days. I had never left Durban and the idea that people were playing on radio in the UK, dancing to it in Tokyo or using it in their mixes in L.A was mind blowing. When I started travelling myself I realised how small the world actually is, and how music transcends borders. We are all connected through the beat.
Where did you originally draw inspiration from when producing music and has this source of inspiration changed with time?
Initially it was the sounds of the township. We used to call the early days Gqom sound “Utayela” which is the name for the tin roof of the shacks that rattle in the wind and rain. We tried to mix that with afrotech, the music that artists like Culoe De Song were making at the time, and ended up Gqom. To this day I draw inspiration from sounds around me in the nature, the cities, aeroplanes, trains more than anything. It is a very primal relationship to the sound experience. I once made a track from the sounds of a whiskey brewery, I found that so rewarding walking through space and hearing elements that create the layers over a beat.
You’ve worked and collaborated with a number of musicians, why do you feel this is important?
I have been very selective on my collaborations because I truly need to connect to the artist in a meaningful way and to respect them musically ie more than just seeing it as a business opportunity. And I have a lot of collaborations that I never released if it feels like we are stretching things to make it work just because it sounds nice on paper. I love what can come through from a collaboration specially the vocal ones which is not something I did in the past. My album “Meeting with the King’ has a lot of great features and collaborations. All of them are on point !
How do you feel now that the album is finished, is there a focus on the next project or is this a chance to take stock?
I was discussing this with my manager today! I am already creating more music and further developing a new sound which you will hear on Meeting with the King. For this album I had produced 102 tracks and we chose 14. There is a lot more now that we had to delay the album release to February 2022 but I am learning how to be patient. Covid taught us all a lesson in patience and stillness.
Which up and coming musicians are you most excited by?
Funk Tone from Umlazi and Omagoqa from Newlands. They are young producers with great ears and they are creating really exciting music. You will be seeing a number of up and coming artists coming through my label Ice Drop over the next year which aims to showcase brand new projects and artists which similar beginnings to mine. Impossible is nothing.
‘Meeting with the King’ will be available in 2022.