Music and culture go hand in hand; it was so easy to witness this undeniable matrimony at the True Music event in Cape Town brought to the masses by Boiler Room and Ballantine’s Whisky. Set in an indoor skate park in Paarden Eiland the event brought out cool kids from all walks of life who got down to curated beats from the likes of DJ Lyle, Aux Womdantso and K-$. The crowd also had the privilege of witnessing a widely entertaining live set from the one & only YoungstaCPT. The vibe was incredible as thousands of viewers from all over the world also tuned into the live stream.
We spoke to Tom Elton, Head of Music at Ballantine’s and Jack Hart, Boiler Room’s Partnership Lead to understand this partnership a bit better and get the 411 on their future plans.
Interview with Tom Elton, Head of Music at Ballantine’s Whisky
Q: What’s the vision behind Ballantine’s collaboration with Boiler Room on this True Music Africa Tour?
A: Our partnership with Boiler Room has been an amazing adventure so far. It’s been four years and in that time, we’ve given a platform to over 150 artists across 20 events, seen by 65 million people worldwide.
Each year we look to evolve our partnership and having had such success in the past with our events in South Africa, we wanted to take our True Music platform to more of this exciting and vibrant continent. Africa is home to the original self-starter musicians; nowhere else quite shares the hustle mentality these artists have, to create music they love, and we really want to highlight this.
Last week, True Music Africa kicked off in Cape Town with a curated line-up that showcased the city’s most forward-thinking artists from across the hip hop and gqom spaces. The night was electric and I think those in the room, and those watching on the live stream at home, experienced something very special.
Next up we’re off to Douala and then Nairobi, both a first for Ballantine’s and Boiler Room, before wrapping up our incredible tour back in South Africa but this time in Johannesburg. It’s going to be epic and I can’t wait.
Q: How does music tie in with your overall strategy as a brand?
A: Music is such a natural fit for us because it goes hand-in-hand with whisky and having a good time.
And for us it’s all about True Music, which sits at the heart of everything we do. True Music is all about supporting and celebrating artists who make music they truly believe in, without compromise.
We want to help support those artists who do it ‘their way’ and working with authentic and credible partners such as Boiler Room is one way we do this.
Q: Do you have other plans to support SA’s burgeoning music scene in the near future?
A: True Music Africa wraps up in Johannesburg next June so there’s not too long to wait until we’re back.
Not only will we have an event to highlight the incredible talent from this part of South Africa but we’re also bringing our True Music Forum to the city. Amazing speakers, artists and people from the international music community will all come together to learn, exchange and build new ideas.
Our previous forums have been in Europe so we’re beyond excited to bring this to Africa.
Interview with Jack Hart, Boiler Room’s Partnership Lead
Q: What’s the vision behind Boiler Room’s collaboration with Ballantine’s on this True Music Africa Tour?
A: The vision behind True Music Africa is to spotlight the most exciting underground music scenes across the continent, and the artists that are pushing them forwards. Our focus for True Music Africa is 100% on local talent who have hustled hard to get where they are. We want to help take these guys and girls to the next level by giving them a global platform to showcase what they’re about. The aim is to provide a window into their world for Boiler Room’s huge global audience through our parties and accompanying mini-documentary series.
Q: How did Boiler Room get its start and what has contributed to its worldwide success?
A: Boiler Room started in the actual boiler room of a rundown warehouse in Hackney, East London. We were friends with a bunch of exciting artists in London who were part of a bubbling underground scene, but one that wasn’t getting the attention it deserved through traditional media. Quite simply, at the time these names weren’t getting big press attention as they weren’t names that would sell thousands of magazines or appear on main stream music television.
We knew the audience for these artists was out there on the internet (at the time living largely in forums and on blogs), so we taped a webcam to a wall and started broadcasting DJ sets and live performances on a weekly basis. At the time they were just attended by the artists and a handful of close friends & family connected to the scene – the main audience was watching online. The views grew organically week by week, pouring in from around the world, and with that so did the parties, the number of countries we broadcast from, and the way we document the music we care about – branching out into new areas like mini-documentaries.
Boiler Room is built on its audience, both online and offline – as long as there’s hunger for non-mainstream music we want to be THE platform to showcase it to the world.
Q: How do you select the DJs and musicians that feature on your line-ups?
A: We have an in-house team of music experts and a big network of contacts in cities around the world, all of whom have a deep hunger for discovering and promoting new & exciting music.