Words by Caron Williams
Photography by Max Mogale
Creative Direction by Mzo Gcwabe
Location AREA3 CPT
Clothing by adidas
There’s something romantic about the pursuit of dreams, the idea that passion, sacrifice, discipline, skill, a bit of luck and a great deal of hard work may result in a fulfilled existential yearning. Countless people spend their entire lives on that pursuit; some ascend, many fail, few try again. At the tender age of 21, Lwazi Asanda Gwala, or DJ Lag as he is commonly known, is an example of what that journey looks like once it is realized. He is an enigmatic rising GQOM superstar with an extraordinary talent which has taken him from Durban to jet setting across the world as one of South Africa’s most fascinating DJ exports.
With aspirations of becoming a soccer player growing up in Durban, Lag’s life took an unexpected turn as he suffered an ankle injury which ended all his goals of pursuing soccer. He’s cousin, a rapper within the Durban hip hop scene at the time, then introduced him to Fruity Loots, a music production program, which was the catalyst for his foray into the world of music.
A self-taught producer, Lag’s relationship with music and production has always been intrinsic – a natural talent so rare, it’s astounding witnessing the ease at which his talent operates. Following his dance with production, he explored the next leg of his career, DJing. The psychology of DJing is fascinating, over and above tremendous skill, it demands the ability to read a crowd, how to seduce them with sound, when to change the pace, and when to strategically orchestrate the climax of a set, offering listeners a transcended musical experience, skills which Lag has effortlesdy mastered.
As DJ Lag’s repertoire as an intoxicating GQOM DJ began sweeping dance floors across the country, he dropped his self-titled EP. The four track EP features Ghost on the Loose, 16th Step, Umilio and the EP’s stand out track, Ice Drop. The DJ Lag EP is an exhilarating sonic journey with a pulsating energy which only GQOM can capture.
Lag’s career has catapulted internationally following the release of his EP last year. He’s toured abroad, spreading GQOM’s moving sound in places such as Poland, Italy, London, China and Japan. “I really didn’t think music would take me this far. I didn’t even think it would take me to cities such as Joburg and Cape Town, so I’m really surprised,” he admits.
With plans of releasing his second EP next year, Lag is focused on spreading GQOM’s enchanting sounds further. He’s currently on another tour which sees him playing in Berlin, New York and our very own Rocking the Daisies. At 21, Lag’s career has been a mesmerizing one. He’s set to become one of South Africa’s greatest GQOM exports and hopes to start his own GQOM label. Soft spoken and unassuming, Lag comes alive when he plays. Watching him standing on his DJ stand with an entire room of people moved by every pulsating beat in his set leaves me completely in awe and offers a gentle reminder of the beauty in the pursuit of all our dreams; that this is what is must look like to confidently walk – or in Lag’s case, dance – your own path and leave a beautiful, resonant trail.