If you are reading this, we are assuming you are at least moderately interested in music and have hopefully heard DJ Mujava's "Township Funk" by now. We have put it up several times but most recently in the FADER 58 podcast. Why? Because Mujava is in the Gen F section of that issue and his song sounds particularly ill blended into No Age's "Teen Creeps." Read the Gen F story after the jump, but first, listen to a couple new iterations of "Township Funk" from our buddies Radioclit and Mumdance. Radioclit's is a remix you may have heard bouncing around. The Mumdance joint, with assists from Jammer and C. Gritz is less a remix than a club jam loosely wrapped around "Township Funk." The trio made it to promote their recent live collaborations in and around London.
DJ MUJAVA's township funk prophesies the future
Story Edwin "Stats Houghton
Photography Samantha Reinders
The first time I get DJ Mujava on the phone, the crackles of the cellular connection render an anecdote totally useless three or four times before I give up on the interview. When we do have a proper conversation a few weeks later there is, in some ways, nothing special about what Mujava has to say. Like armies of other aspiring dance producers, he idolizes Masters at Work, needs to get a visa in time to play the Lake of Stars Festival in Malawi and wonders if Sinden and Gilles Peterson are playing his current 12-inch (they are).
But the fact that we’re even having the conversation might be the most bizarre shit of all. For one thing, the dodgy cell connection doesn’t lead to a phone in Williamsburg or Paris, but Attridgeville, a black township on the outskirts of Pretoria, South Africa. There Mujava has been using a cheap PC to make stuttery, slow house tracks out of LFOish sine waves and haunting melodic snatches of vernac for almost ten years. And for another, “Township Funk,” the club anthem that was pressed up on vinyl by Warp/This is Music and has created all the hype in London, seems to have been A&Red by a weird conspiracy of taxi drivers and YouTube posters.
Found by Marcus Scott at Warp through the video-sharing site, the acidy sound of
“Township Funk” makes perfect sense for
the label, and they picked up the track from
Sheer Music, a South African venture mostly devoted to licensing foreign artists like MAW
for the domestic market. By then it had already overcome even greater odds just to get there. “When I started to make my own tracks, I would take it to the drivers of my township,” Mujava says nonchalantly, as if every record was promoted this way. “It went from them through other townships until it was recognized by community radio stations, until it got a deal on Sheer.”
Although his name has become associated with kwaito, Mujava is quick to distance himself from it and even from other South African house. Indeed, the martial snares of “Township Funk” sound more like DJ Shadow chopping up “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” That
sound, pioneered by Mujava along with peers like Bojo Mujo, DJ Ghost, DJ Tsala and MaChance comprises a scene unto itself, informally known as township house
or Pretoria house. And despite all the recent attention from abroad, that scene remains the real center of Mujava’s world. When asked about the future, he mentions the possibility
of an album length project for Warp and adds,
“I’m busy making remixes. For some international guys…I don’t know their names.”