Spotlight: Lelowhatsgood is always evolving

The HYPE Spotlight shines on Lelowhatsgood ahead of his Johnnie Walker x Rocking The Daisies performance

Written by HYPE Staff

Photography: FlashedBySanele

Make-up: Camilla Mlilwana of @facebeatstudio

Styling: Nkuley Masemola

A pioneering figure in the contemporary Joburg party and dance music scene, Lelowhatsgood wears many hats. If not rocking the party behind the wheels of steel (he’s played UMI: Our Music Festival, AFROPUNK, and is soon adding Johnnie Walker x Rocking the Daisies), he’s organising VNJ BALL – a series of ballroom parties that aren’t only a notable entity in the Joburg nightlife but are also a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community.

Lelowhatsgood, who’s also a curator and writer, describes himself as “an ever-evolving being. I’m multifaceted, [multi-]dimensional, soft yet strong.”

Ahead of his performance at Johnnie Walker x Rocking The Daisies this weekend, Lelowhatsgood speaks to HYPE about his evolution, his latest single ‘Demon’s Kiss’ and what to expect in his Daisies set.

You recently released your first single ‘Demon’s Kiss’ with Dee Traits. What has the reception to this release been?

The reception to this single has been incredible, and an emotional journey. Stepping into a new field and becoming an artist is something I’ve always wanted to do, and now that it’s happening, it felt like an accomplishment. I’m learning new things about the music industry, and I want to be disruptive. I don’t want to do things the normal way, which is why exploring a new genre with this song feels like the next level.

South Africans have a tendency to obsess over one genre. Gqom is alive and kicking, but all people seem to want is amapiano. Based on your experience as a DJ with versatile taste, what can you say about that dynamic?

The dynamic between these genres can be subjective. My honest opinion is that South Africans generally have a diverse music palette. Although it might feel like one genre is dominating, there are still so many subcultures and underground communities that keep a lot of genres alive, apart from the mainstream.

Please take us through the production process of ‘Demon’s Kiss’ and the upcoming EP.

It’s a collaborative project. Dee Traits and I joined forces on selecting songs, the sound of the EP, how long it’s going to be and how to structure the visuals around it. We went for a darker, heavier approach that matches the mood of the EP.

What story is Lelowhatsgood trying to tell – or is he telling – right now?

Right now, I’m trying to show that I’m more than just a DJ. I’m still trying to go back to my roots of writing, as well as curating more cultural events such as VNJ BALL.

You once said the aim when you started VNJ BALL was: “placing queer people at the forefront by celebrating each other, supporting those who need it most and making sure the scene is safe enough.” How would you say those objectives have been achieved?

We’ve achieved those through all of our collaborative events this year with major brands such as Until Until (through Genesis) as well as others such as Nike; placing our culture at the forefront and making queer people celebrate each other. There is still more work to be done, however. We’re just at the beginning.

Building a property of the magnitude of VNJ BALL takes a whole lot of collaborative effort, I can imagine. How important is collaborative input in your process?

It’s very important to me that we collaborate. We cannot work in isolation, and that’s why we’re at the place where we can grow, learn, teach and make these spaces better for each other.

How has Johnnie Walker aided your work as a creative director in the queer community? And why should brands continue to uplift creatives and organisers within this community?

Johnnie Walker was able to make my visions happen as a curator. Without any brand support, I don’t think we’d be where we are today. Both brands – VNJ and Johnnie Walker – have a perfect synergy with messaging and overall future commitments on where we should take the queer community. I’m excited for the future.

How does it feel being one of the DJs on the line-up at a huge festival like the Johnnie Walker RTD?

Being able to play at Rocking The Daisies has always been my dream. I’m super excited to get to showcase an incredible set and play some of my own music for a new audience as well.

Johnnie Walker has implemented “Keep Walking Towards Safe Spaces” and the Oasis at Rocking The Daisies, which will be marked safety zones for any queer/woman that might feel unsafe during the festival. What does queer/ women safety mean to you at such festivals?

It has to be top of mind for any festival and the promoters who are involved. Revolutionising the dance floors not only affirms people who attend but it makes them comfortable enough to come again the next time. Spaces and initiatives like this are super important.

Name three essential things you are packing in your bag for the festival.

Sunscreen, earplugs and sexy sunglasses.

What should people expect from your Johnnie Walker RTD set?

A whole lot of gqom, Afro-house and dancing.

Which five artists are you most looking forward to seeing at Johnnie Walker RTD?

DBN GOGO, Uncle Waffles, Desiree, Gina Jeans and Kid Fonque.

Johnnie Walker x Rocking The Daisies is taking place 7 – 9 October in Cape Town and Johannesburg. More details and tickets on the official Johnnie x Walker Rockind The Daisies website.

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