Established in 2012 as a platform for South Africa’s burgeoning Electronic and house music culture, the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival is one of the most exciting and inclusive boutique music festivals in Africa.
Afro-tunes had the pleasure of speaking with CTEMF founder David Ireton about the inspiration behind the festival, it’s Non-profit foundation for aspiring musicians, producers and much more.
Afro-tunes: Tell us about the inspiration behind Cape Town Electronic Music Festival
David Ireton: It all started with the 2010 football world cup in South Africa. I wanted to launch a festival to serve all the tourists that came to see the world cup, so I organised a day party. Afterwards my CTEMF partners approached me with a vision for something similar but on a bigger scale. That was the beginning of CTEMF.
I had been to sonar in Barcelona earlier in the year and was inspired by how the city of Barcelona supports Sonar festival. So, we tried to do the same with CTEMF.
We wanted to create a South African festival of international standards that the government or department of arts and culture could support. A festival that would truly showcase African talent, become internationally recognized and enable our local artists to be seen by the rest of the world.
AT: Straight off the bat your mission sounds amazing. You are willing to put these artists on an international stage, where no one else was. Have you or did you feel that you got the support you needed from the South African government?
DI: No. It was really tough. We managed to get the department of arts and culture on board but only for one year. The only way we could do this was by including a Non-Profit aspect that participated in community work. This was inline with our objectives so was not a problem. We launched the Cape Electronic Music Foundation and through that we have a program called CTEMF Connect where I mentor 5-6 artists for a year and help up-skill them.
I get a bit frustrated with South Africa because there are a lot of non-profit organisations but you don’t really see the work they do or changes they make. I actively participate in CTEMF connect to make sure that artists get the most out of it.
As a result, we have made a difference and discovered some really talented artists who have continued to do great things. I am proud of the work we’ve done and continue to do with CTEMF connect.
AT: Ok, so where do you get your funding from now?
DI: Now it’s all from sponsors.For example, we have had red bull as our key sponsor since the festival’s inception and helped us to develop our festival concept. This headline sponsorship has allowed us to work with some big international artists.
AT: Going back to CTEMF connect, is that something that runs alongside the festival or does it operate a separate entity entirely?
DI: Its operated alongside the festival. The artists go through an intense 1-month mentoring program. Following this period, they have an open line with me for a year and at the end of that year, if we see significant development in them, we’ll put them on our festival stage.
AT: What time of the year does CTEMF take place and will it be happening this year?
DI: In the previous years we’ve held the festival during South Africa festival season which runs from November to April. However, there were so many other competing festivals, which would have required us to obtain big headline acts in order to continue as an organisation. To keep the festival alive, we had to wind it down, restructure and focus on our core market. This meant having an all local line up (only South African Artists).
This year the festival was going to take place in June, which is South African winter. However, that has been affected by Covid-19. We are waiting it out to see what happens with this situation.
We have a plan for an online live event, where our artists will perform at Red Bull studios but we don’t feel this will be enough. If we are not able to work out a way of how we can make our live event experience unique, I don’t think we’ll have festival. We wouldn’t want to compromise on quality
AT: So, for some of our audience that might not be familiar with the underground electronic and house music scene in South Africa, who would you say are your favorite artist?
DI: My favorite local House music artists are Culoe De Song, Kusasa, FKA mash, Black Coffee, Enoo Napa, Shimza, Pierre Johnson, Jullian Gomes and Da Capo
Here are YouTube videos of these artists:
Techno is a growing genre in South Africa, which I, as a Techno DJ have been trying to grow for the last 5 years. For example a success story of CTEMF connect within Techno is stab virus. They were part of the program 5 years ago and have developed to go on and play at events like ADE in Amsterdam
Another success story from South Africa is FAKA, who curated the last Versace’s 2019 fashion show
If you enjoyed reading this post, share it with your friends and leave a comment. If you are a South Africa based House, Techno or electronic music musician or producer and are interested in getting on to CTEMF connect program leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!
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