Get ready for RAMfest with Niskerone

Interview by Katherine Brookes

Hailing from the dusty streets of Mitchell’s Plain in the heart of the notorious Cape Flats, the ‘king of the underground Drum & Bass jungle’, NISKERONE’s energetic and innovative style of mixing has entertained crowds at festivals and on dance floors around the world.

The man behind ‘It Came From The Jungle’, NISKERONE started this weekly residency at Fiction DJ Bar in May 2006 after identifying a need in Cape Town for a Drum & Bass night that catered to the lighter side of the genre. Aside from pleasing hundreds of revelers each week, it also secured him slots alongside industry leaders such as Pendulum, Busta Rhymes, The Bloody Beetroots, DJ Fresh (UK), Dieselboy, Sigma, Cutline, and many more.

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Do you find that there’s more pressure to perform and deliver because you’ve managed to establish yourself so well within the industry?

Yes definitely, with each show you do people expect a high level of performance, so there’s really no room for error. Over the years I’ve gained a considerable amount of confidence on stage, so it helps with the pressure.


What does music mean to you in your day to day life and how do you see a festival like RAMfest change your outlook towards your music?

To me, music is everything, I breathe it. I wouldn’t say it changes my outlook on music, but rather it gets me more excited about it. RAMfest offers another opportunity for artists like me to share our music with people on a larger scale.


What can people expect from you performance at RAMfest?

I got a few special “secret” weapons I’ve been working on for the RAMfest set and I can’t wait to play them out! If you’ve been to one of my shows, you’ll know it’s all about the energy and good times.


Playing major festivals like OppiKoppi, RAMfest, etc. What does it mean to a DJ’s career and what would you say does it do for your career to land one of these festivals.

It’s important to get to a point that you’re playing festivals such as these, it’s a form of validation, like, you’ve reached a milestone in your career. More importantly, it’s a big learning curve, as festival shows differ greatly from club shows. For me, I take it as a compliment when I get offered a festival show and I always try and do something special for each one.


You recently did an interview with a group explaining your background and where you come from. What advice would you give aspiring DJs, bands and solo artists who dream to make a living with their music, but struggle to purchase the instruments and/or hardware needed to get there music out to the public.

Yeah, I did an interview for Bridges For Music. The first thing I’d say, would be to not dream of making a living from music, I had no clue that I would be where I am now and that music would be my career. It’s very easy to become disillusioned with the art once you do that. The aim is to keep the passion for music alive inside you. If you can, get a job (waiter, construction, anything!) to get some income and put money aside whenever you can, so that you can try get whatever gear you may require.

These days it’s a little easier to get access to music making tools, you have production software like Ableton, DJing software like Serato and there’s even software for smartphones. What I’m trying to say here is, use what you have or can afford, you do not need super high-end gear to begin with. Also, NETWORK! Get out there and do not be too shy to show and share your music with others and take criticism, it’s how you get better at it.

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As a musician, you’re always growing. What are some of your goals for 2013?

My primary goal for 2013 is to make more music with my partner, SFR. I haven’t really thought much beyond that!


Music sees many trends come and go. As far as trend and up-and-comers are concerned, what trend will be taking flight in your opinion and who do you think will do well in the industry and why?

From a dance music perspective, I see Garage making a comeback. The scene out in the UK is getting stronger and it’s begun to spread across Europe and even taking shape here in Cape Town. My money is always on SA talent and I see guys like Das Kapital and PHFat make quite an impact abroad over the next few years.


What is your favourite song at the moment in your set and what song at RAMfest do you think will have the crowd on their feet?

Right now, I’d say it’s Take Me Higher by Wilkinson and that’s the one that’ll probably smash it at RAMfest.


Who are you most looking forward to see perform live at RAMfest?

Unfortunately I’ll be missing Pendulum’s set due to another show on the other end of the country, but I would’ve loved to have had a jam to one of their sets again!


You have played for a diverse crowd all over South Africa and also overseas what crowd has been the best crowd you’ve ever played for and why?

Ah, this tricky question… I’m a Cape Town boy, so any crowd in Cape Town will always win in my books, especially after this last weekend of epic shows. Outside Cape Town, I’d say the most vocal crowds I’ve found are across Spain. I’ve never met any people that can party as hard and as long as Spaniards can.


If you weren’t a musician, what other career would you pursue?

To be honest, I have no clue. Maybe something creative or a history teacher.


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