The organisers of Boiler Room X Ballantine's True Music Experiences say that South Africans are their favourite crowds and here's why

2019-02-01 08:30
 
Boiler Room X Ballantine’s True Music Africa: Pret

Cape Town – I recently flew to London for a whirlwind 24-hours to chat to two of the people behind a music movement that has changed the life of many music lovers and performers alike, globally: Boiler Room x Ballantine's True Music.

In our quick sit-down chat, which took place just before the 2019 launch event, Tom Elton: Head of Music at Ballantines and Steven Appleyard: Chief Business Development Officer at Boiler Room True Music Experiences, told me how the events - that give emerging artists a chance to reach a wider audience - came about and why they love South Africa.

HERE'S OUR INTERVIEW WITH TOM AND STEVEN: 

Tom Elton, Steven Appleyard       

 Tom Elton and Steven Appleyard (Photo: Supplied, Ballantines)

THE GENESIS OF A FRUITFUL RELATIONSHIP: 

Steven Appleyard started off by telling me about how one of the most respected platforms in music got together with Ballantines. “In 2014 Boiler Room was tiny, we had a bit of buzz in London and in Birmingham, but that was about it. Then Ballantines came to us and said they wanted to support us in what we were doing with showcasing local music scenes and giving them greater exposure. And we were like, ‘Okay cool’. 

“It was the first time that a big brand had come to us in a meaningful way and stated their ambition to add value to these global music scenes, so we were like testing a little bit, we were like, ‘But we think some of the most interesting things happening in music right now are happening in places like Mexico, or Russia, or Poland and South Africa’ and frankly they called our bluff. They said, ‘We want to support those acts, we want to support true music artists and start to build the foundations of what could be a long-term partnership.’ And that’s what we did and now it’s been five years of doing that.” Tom added, “And we’ve just signed on for three more years.” 

KEEPING TRUE TO THE MUSIC IN THE FACE OF A MULTITUDE OF CHALLENGES

When I asked the two longtime collaborators what some of the challenges have been along the way, Steven explained: “Every step of the journey we knew what our North star was, and that was to support underrepresented musicians and communities, all around the world. 

“Along that journey, just in conversation with the musicians certain issues have come up. Like venue closures, lack of access to the internet, lack of access to studio time and lots more. And that kind of made us be self-reflective and say, ‘What if we can add even more value to the support that we are giving to these artists.’ So, in other words, not just showcase them like we have been doing but leave a legacy behind.

“When relating those issues and challenges back to South Africa the high cost of mobile data was brought up, something that Tom found painfully poignant because he says, ‘South African shows are usually our most viewed shows (on the Boiler Room YouTube channel)’.” 

Steven then added: “South Africa is one of the most interesting places in the world right now, musically, but it is one of the most expensive countries in the world right now to do shows. Purely on account of the internet connectivity, because of the incredible cost of 3G data.”

As previously mentioned, this is an issue because Boiler Room performances are broadcast live from whatever country it is in to music lovers all over the world. 

SOUTH AFRICAN CROWDS AND ARTISTS ARE SOME OF THEIR FAVOURITES IN WORLD

About his favourite music acts that the joint brands have given a platform to, Tom said: “Artists like Jazzuelle and 2Lani The Warrior are great artists, that I had never heard of, and now tell all my mates about and that’s the reason we started this partnership.” 

About South Africa, Steven added: “The crowds when you go over there, it’s quite unique, when you compare to other places in the world, in that there’s a complete lack of ego. Like typically when you go for a night out in London, where we are right now, one of the biggest things that blights it is ego. The most you might get if you’re in a club in London, is some doing like a shoulder shrug. Some people are in the back of the club, you know, looking at their phone. A little too cool for school.

“Whereas whenever I’ve gone to raves in Cape Town or Joburg, everyone is on the dancefloor. The minute the music hits, people have got their eyes closed, they’re dancing to the music. Some people aren’t dancing too good, but no one gives a shit. There’s a real lack of ego and it’s such a refreshing thing and it’s infectious.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR BOILER ROOM X BALLANTINES TRUE MUSIC

Tom hopes that it brings positive change, he said: “It’s all about how we can help emerging artists in emerging markets get a platform.”

Steven added: “We’ll be back in South Africa in September.” Tom chiming in: “We don’t know where we’ll be, specifically, yet but we’ll definitely be back in September.”

*Channel24's trip to London was sponsored by Boiler Room X Ballantines.*

NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.