Prince of Gqom and Sgubhu, Emo Kid honors these essential South African genres, in an epic new 4 tracks-EP, The Art Of Gqom
At almost 30 years old, the reputation of Ntobeko Ntshingila aka Emo Kid is well established. Through melodic and inspired gqom productions, the artist has built a reputation in Durban, becoming a true ambassador of this music as powerful as it is unique in Africa. The kid started making music in 2013 on his computer, normally intended for IT classes. Like many producers of the genre, he developed his own musical sensibility in his bedroom, with a lot of imagination, the usual Fruity Loops and a pair of speakers, picking up sound packages here and there to have fun with. In search of the next banger, he landed In 2017 on Gqom Oh!, the label of Francesco Nan Kolè and Citizen Boy. He released Gqomtera, a remarkable EP where he explored the sgubhu style, a sub-genre of gqom using only 4×4 rhythms. He is back on Radio Chiguiro Records, to pay tribute to The Art Of Gqom with a new EP inspired by cinema and his 10-year musical career. It contains 4 solid tracks, including the grandiose “Isicoco (The Glory)”, with its appealing melody made of brass and EDM synths, that you can listen to before the world on Couvre x Chefs while reading this interview!
In this track « The Glory », there is a good balance between the essence of gqom and EDM vibes. Is there a story behind this track? How did you feel when you finished it?
I felt great after finishing that track, I couldn’t wait for the world to hear it. Its name « Glory » came from the way the song made me feel when I listened to it, it felt like something out of a movie. That’s why I would say my sound is influenced by movies because I watch a lot of them. I used some of the sounds that people resonate with in the club scene, a lot of bass synths also brasses, which make it feel glorious.
What are the influences that feed your gqom? Why is it such an « art »?
This EP consists of many Gqom styles. It’s a way of expressing where I’m at right now. It has all the elements of how gqom started and where it’s headed right now, that’s why I call it The Art Of Gqom. It’s like a time capsule of the current state of gqom. Also, it is important not to change the aspect and essence which makes it Gqom.
You’re definitely part of the evolution of the Durban Sound. How long have you been in this scene, and what makes your music different from the others?
I’ve been doing this for a long time, from 2013 and still going strong. Gqom music has evolved so much and it’s much cleaner now compared to when we came out. We knew little about mixing music and a lot of musical elements are now found in gqom music. I manage to keep going and bringing you good music because of the support I’m getting from the people who listen to my music, my people who motivate me to keep going, even when times get tough. The people who support my music are my biggest inspiration! I am pouring my heart every time I make this music, all of this makes my style unique, straight from the heart, with a lot of emotions.
What are the main differences between gqom and sghubu, in your words?
The main difference between Gqom and Sgubhu is that Gqom is a broken beat and sgubhu is a 4-step. Sgubhu usually has a lot of other instruments and synths and is slower than Gqom music. Gqom is raw stuff and hits hard every time!
Amapiano is everywhere in South Africa. Is there kind of a temptation to switch to this genre?
I have no problem with amapiano as it’s still a genre from South Africa, I can’t bash that. I do find myself sometimes producing some amapiano as I’m very experimental when it comes to making music in general. I’m also a big fan of amapiano, I even have some favorites, I might even drop a track for sport one day, but I’m sticking with Gqom! There’s a lot of Gqom music on the way from your boy, you can count on it.
Where does your nickname Emo Kid come from?
It started as a social media alias that quickly escaped the digital realm. Friends began hollering « Emo » in everyday life until I thought, « Why not roll with it? » And thus, it was my rebirth, not just as a name but as a musical identity!