On: Arsenic

Ahead of the release of ‘Hidden Formulas Vol 5: Project Indigo’, producer Arsenic speaks to Helen Herimbi Arsenic is exactly where I expect to find him: in the studio. He sits in a low chair and a mic stand, computers, monitors and other sound paraphernalia envelope him. Like a music hug. Ahead of the Cape Town producer’s newest project, Hidden Formulas Vol 5: Project Indigo, Arsenic tells me what it took for him to get here. But first, what in the world is a smoortjie? He laughs when I ask and points to his t-shirt. The words “Kaapstad Smoortjies” are emblazoned on his chest. “It’s a mixture of onions, tomatoes and other food,” he attempts to explain. “I don’t know what the English version of it is but this shirt is from a show I did with Jitsvinger.” Arsenic began producing in 2001 and has since worked closely with the likes of Jitsvinger, as well as the people’s champ, YoungstaCPT. His beats have been the soundscape for some of the most lyrically dexterous artists to come out of the Western Cape and the art of collaboration is something this boom bap lover who was known as the Jazzy Mongrel takes seriously. “With Jitsvinger and Youngsta, I heard them and thought my beats would go nicely with them,” he tells me. “It all started from being a fan of theirs first. With my newer collaborations, I sit down with the artists and speak to them and see where their headspace is so that can influence the beat as well.” Earlier this year, Arsenic released his first single in three years: Hidden Formula. The track features Mvula Drae on the raps and, while it is not a departure from Arsenic’s style, it has a certain jovial quality to it. It even feels funkier. “Definitely,” he exclaims in agreement. “I think most of what I do has that boom bap, funk, soul, jazzy influence to it. Strangely enough, that beat was made in 2015 because the mixtape idea is something I had before I got sick.” “I had actually done another song with Read More …

On: Jitsenic

Jitsenic. It’s not a complex combustible chemical resulting from a scientific experiment but rather a musical experiment with the aim of creating a hybrid from the musical gems of the past and those of today. Jitsenic is a relatively new collaboration between the darlings of the Cape Town Afrikaans hip hop scene, Quinton “Jitsvinger” Goliath and producer Gary “Arsenic” Erfort. The pair first started performing live together in May and reckon they are finally ready to bring their unique blend of hip hop-based, jazz-inspired music to the greater public when they perform at the District Six Museum on Friday. As expected, the duo, who are individual powerhouses in their own right, delve into hip hop to deliver Jitsenic’s music. However, they also reach beyond what they are familiar with. “It’s us paying a compliment or homage to Cape Coloured Jazz,” Jitsvinger says, “and just giving it our own vibe. Nowadays, kids don’t get to discover these parts of their contemporary music history. These artists of so long ago are our national treasures.” He and Arsenic share the same view and it’s with this in mind that they decided to collaborate. Jitsvinger lets me know that this weekend’s gig is a special one for them. “Arsenic and I discovered on stage what elements we needed to make sound better,” Jitsvinger tells me. “So this upcoming event kind of feels like our make it or break it gig.” The meeting of the two minds started after Arsenic’s musical reputation for taking hip hop seriously and career direction piqued Jitsvinger’s interest. “I always heard about him as someone who takes hip hop seriously,” Jitsvinger shares. “You can’t make music and not have a place where you see yourself in five years’ time or whatever.” “Arsenic dedicated his time to collaborate with the likes of Writers Block and Mingus, so when I went into the studio with him I only wanted to record some new stuff. This collaboration came about from a wish I had to share ideas with someone. I did this knowing that ideas are things you have to keep closely guarded Read More …