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Interview by Andrea Steyn
Victor Bravo isn’t just any DJ from a small town called Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, he will teach you all about dance music. He says that music is the essence of life. He chooses to supply music that creates “the goosebump experience”. He says that “music has got its substance; it’s got to have something in it. The elements are important”.
I saw Victor Bravo for the first time at a roof-top event two weeks ago. The vibe in the club was energetic, the DJ booth above a swimming pool, the night sky in Zimbabwe was alive. Dropping the funky house tune “Love is all I got” totally zoned me into the sound of Victor Bravo.
He describes his sound with hesitation “I try not to pigeon hole myself as there is so much good music out there across all the genres. I would say, primarily deep house with minimal vocals, catchy hook and so many twists and turns that leave you with goose bumps. Then I also play progressive house and trance, but depending on the venue. He is not into hard house because music has to have some real substance that does something for you, the type of stuff that tells you not to sit down, but get up and dance. I think him and I are on the same page.
I had the chance to interview Victor Bravo at his office, where his company is. He says after two decades of being a DJ life goes on, family all that. So, for him being a DJ is a hobby more than anything else, and once in a while he comes out of the woodwork. In his own words he says
“I am Bulawayo’s best kept secret”
Herewith the questions and answers from a favourite DJ of mine.
I have an older brother that was DJ’ing, and he happened to take me to one of the big events he was playing at. For a fourteen year old it was an amazing and overwhelming experience and if I’m to be honest I think being at that event and constantly being surrounded by the music is how I got into it. It started with playing 2 or 3 tracks while my brother took a break, progressed to dinner dances, weddings, friend’s house parties and finished with the club circuit.
Yes it did start early and yes I have been around for a long time. There are so many people that have been along with me, in particular the faithful party people that turned up weekend after weekend to listen and dance to what I was doing from the 80’s. But I think if you are asking me about who has influenced me and made me the DJ that I am, there are a handful of people, both, people I know very well and one in particular that I do not know at all.
The first has to be my older brother whose ear for the funk/disco sound had so much to do with the way I grew up listening to the music, the second person is an old school friend of mine that partnered up with me and we would play absolutely any chance we got. The third person and probably the one that has had the most to do with where I am as a DJ, especially on the technical side is Kimble Rogers (ZiFM). I had been dabbling in DJ’ing and was tired of playing at weddings, leavers dances, etc. until I met him. A mutual friend took me to a Saturday afternoon session, where Kimble was playing, and when I walked into the place I could not believe my ears. The music that was being played and the way it was being played completely took me by surprise. I had only heard that type of music and the skill that it was being seamlessly mixed together, in clubs out of the country. We were introduced, he basically taught me the basics of mixing and the rest is history. The fourth person that has had a lot to do with my career, is DJ and friend Jackie Pikoulis. We were both resident at a Bulawayo club and after a while formed the duo Dance Department. We played in all the clubs around the country and were the first to play and help organise the first warehouse party in Bulawayo. Finally to the person I don’t know, every DJ has at least one international superstar DJ that he tries to emulate, and for me that DJ is Pete Tong. He is absolutely brilliant, has been in the game for years but is still as cutting edge and relevant as the best of them.
Given the opportunity, I would love to get involved in production work, I think it’s a natural progression for any DJ to want to drive a crowd mental with his own productions. The only thing I do is re-work or re-edit current tunes so that they sound a little different from the versions that are being played out.
My sound? I try not to pigeon hole myself as there is so much good music out there across all the genres. I would say, primarily deep house, with minimal vocals, catchy hooks and so many twists and turns that leave you with goose bumps, then progressive house and trance. My sound does depend on where I play.
Me and Otis Fraser has started a cooking house music movement “Global Groove” which is basically a Friday night radio mix with Otis Fraser on Star FM in Harare. My professional commitments do not allow me much time to be involved in the club circuit on a full time basis. Whereas before I would play nearly every night of the week, things have changed and I only really get involved in the big events at the end of the year, such as the DJ Zinhle, Fresh, and coming up with Black Coffee at Horizons, also the Ultra Music Festival this weekend, and the Kalawa party at the end of the year.
Being from an era of turntables it was very hard for me to accept that CD and all the rest that is out there now was the way forward, but with vinyl becoming harder and harder to find and the easy availability of downloads it was only a matter of time before I moved across. Now with kit like Serato that allows you to play digital files on your analogue turntables, and media players that give you the feel of working with turntables, the transition was easy and inevitable.
Although my vinyl collection is very special to me, the one tune that does it for me has to be Energy 52, Café del Mar. It’s one of those tunes that has everything in it and been around for years in many different versions and am sure will be around for many more.
Being a house and dance DJ, you will probably not believe that the song or band that had and has an effect on me, is an old light rock song titled ‘Carry on our Wayward Son’ by Kansas.
I think the best event that Bulawayo has seen has to be the Beach Party a few years back. The organiser brought in tons of river sand, palm trees. It was such an amazing setup and an even more amazing turn out. It was huge.
I won’t take any music unless I’m asked, even if the music is not to my taste, I respect their space and it is also nice to let someone else worry about the sound track sometimes.
Playing in my car at the moment is ‘absolutely nothing’. I enjoy the quiet time I get driving to work and back. Sunday is my day to kick back, do nothing and nine times out of ten I end up watching movies all day.
On an international collaboration I would have to say Pete Tong.
Though the chance of playing at all the events you have mentioned would be incredible, I think I would love to play at a Cream or Space opening party in Ibiza. The people that go to that island are mental and totally up for it.
Andrea Steyn: Thank you for taking the time to share.
Victor Bravo: Thank you for the opportunity to answer some of your questions.
As it turns out, the group of artists from Reunion staying at the same place as me, were performing that afternoon. I asked if I could tag along and be a supporter. It was the best random afternoon of my life.
Heading to Soweto, with no idea what to expect, I was accompanied by one of these French guys. As it turns out, he was the main leading performer in the entire performance. The act was a collaboration with the Soweto folk, and the Reunion artists, where the combined Gum Boot Dancing form South Africa, with French chanting, drumming and break-dancing.
Like seriously, the afternoon was completely vibrant and spectacular. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the community surrounding this project all loved the integration from the group visiting for three months from Reunion. Students in their late 20s had given up some weeks of their lives, to perform side by side, with the performers from Soweto, and bring about a fusion of African and French performing arts.
I was convinced from that moment onward how important it is to at least attempt to contribute whatever talents you have in the business world to the center. Its a huge undertaking feeding 400 students twice a day, and I learned a whole bunch sitting in the kitchen. The girls were happy to braid my hair for me.
And then finally, the afternoon’s performance began. An energetic performance from both groups, merged into a very talented performing arts group. So much so that they have performed all around South Africa.
We saw gum boot dancing, the Snake Dance, some break-dancing, acrobatics, singing, chanting and crowd interaction. Absolutely mesmerized I left with several memories and many new friends from the center.
Vote for Thulani Madondo
who has made it to the CNN top ten Hero’s!!
Who knew that magic existed in a random encounter for me that day, leading to world class performing artists from Reunion and the Kliptown Youth Program.
The Scatterings of Africa
What does it feel like to be a traveller in your own country?
Today I woke up in an awesome backpackers in Joberg, and decided I ‘need’ a real coffee. So off to the nearby Vida E cafe in Sandton, I arrived to be the first and only client. Awesome double latte and mozzarella bake surprise. With the endless Brazilian music playing, could I possibly be on holiday?
It is a cultural phenomenon to actually consider travelling in South Africa, as a South African. And after so many years of travelling throughout Europe, I have now decided, that Southern Africa is the ultimate playground. What more can you need when you have the beach on your doorstep. the city dazzle lights all week long, and the bush vibe. Grrrrrr…… ****happy emotion****
I find it insightful to be placed in such an awesome location as Sandton Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s really taking me to the ultimate level of, how to say, happiness!! I highly recommend getting loose of any heavy travel companions and just going completely wild in Joberg. This city has a phenomenal amount if inspirations for any artist, its kinda like getting drunk for the first time. I am smiling as I write this, and isn’t this what you want out of any moment in life, a chance to smile?
So in order to guarantee a smile on your dial, and a little tingle in your big toe, or even a twinkle in your eye, you will be guaranteed to find an adventure or a journey in Johannesburg.
One of Ibiza’s biggest all-time DJs and BnB’s Andrea Steyn get up close and philosophical about all things life and music related…
His name is ranked in the top regions of producers who helped shaping the sound of Balearic-flavored house music, and his discography is among the most played in Ibiza over the last decade: we’re atalking about Nick Bracegirdle aka Chicane, known for evergreen Ibiza classics such as Saltwater, Offshore, Don’t Give Up and Love On The Run. After laying low for a while as the end of the 00s drew closer, Nick recently put out some new stuff including a new artist album last April called Thousand Mile Stare. Listening to the electronic compositions on the album will certainly take you to the stars and back again, and if not, then high up in the mountains.
BnB’s South African reporter Andrea Steyn took a slice out of the schedule of Nick for an update on his activities…
Please state your name for the record. Where are you based?
Nick from Chicane – based in Scotland, most of the time.
Music gives you a chance to unwind, and to find a place within yourself to reflect. I would like to know how it is, that you are able to put your thoughts in your mind, and transform them into music?
Music is a gift whether we’re able just to listen or to make it. As far as I’m concerned, I do not analyse it that much, things just come and happen.
Can you explain how you find yourself being a successful composer? Mozart and Bach all have historical stories behind them, Beethoven lost his eyes. Is there anything specific in your life that changed. You know, things were never the same, and you began your born given task of supplying the world with your music.
Sorry, no X-Factor sob story, actually the way you put it Mozart and the rest might have done quite well on that program – they certainly have the back story. Early in my life it was easier to communicate with music, or at least express feelings, words can get misinterpreted but music can’t I suppose.
There is a moment in a person’s life, that you hear the music of a band or a certain song, and things will never be the same. Any thoughts here in your personal life?
Well, I’ve said this before, I heard Jean-Michel Jarre on the radio and had not heard anything like it before and was hooked on electronic.
If there is one moment in your life, where music has helped someone close to you, can you remember that moment? And how do you think music speaks to people?
As music is subjective I don’t try and feel what others do when listening, I do what I do and if it helps others, as it sometimes helps me then great
If you had one hour to live, what would you choose to listen to for that final hour?
If you had one chance to make your wildest imagined moment come true, what adventure sport would you choose to do? Bunjee jump? White water rafting? Abseiling down the Victoria Falls? Flying over the Zambezi River?
I do too much flying for it to be in any way enjoyable… abseiling maybe.
If you visit a friend’s house for an afternoon ‘braai’, do you take with an emergency stash of music in your jacket?
No. I am not that controlling. Well, maybe……
You have surely made a giant success in your career, I mean, that goes without saying. Do you think your creative process has evolved by the help of others in your industry? How so?
No one does anything solely on their own, the past and the present play a part in everything we do. On this new record for me, the really exciting thing was working with Vigri and dealing with the mad but lovely Icelanders.
What book are you currently reading?
Been trying to read Keith Richard’s autobiography for months, just too busy.
What instruments do you play?
Keys and studio.
If you could wish a growing child the joy of one thing in life, would it be learning a musical instrument, being able to dance, or to have excellent musical appreciation?
Might be bloody corny but, freedom really!
Which physical sensory perceptions have evolved due to music, in your personal life?
My big toes vibrate.
Favourite climate: hot or cold?
Cold, love that snowboard!
Gotta love the UK for its creativity!
Favourite festival ever experienced?
They are usually all good. But certainly in Australia, Sterosonic.
What country do you still want to learn about (hint hint, South Africa is waiting again!)
We were in SA for NYE this year – or last. I wanted to get to Robben Island but didn’t quite have the time on the list next time.
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