Deep, soulful house music runs the risk of being viewed as a throwback to yesteryear. Our immediate reference is back to the epic heyday of House Afrika, early YFM and other memorable compilations of that era, very much no more. But before you declare the genre a dodo, check out C9ine, a live house act fresh from the sunbaked pavements of Katlehong. They've been together since 2004 and their shared love of the good groove has made dents in dance floors with tracks like 'Heaven Is Here', 'Rafiki', 'Wonder' and 'Chasing'. Their latest album release A Million Sprockets is currently being heavily pumped on the airwaves. We chatted to them about the scene, performance and other house things.
JHBLive: Can you describe the Katlehong house music scene to the uninitiated?
C9ine: Katlehong and the East Rand as a whole has always been at the forefront of music when it comes to the youth making moves for themselves. There are so many talented young artists and we are proud to represent a region that is filled with such life and vibrancy. The new platforms and initiatives that are coming up add to the cultivation of new and raw talent and we can only get better from here.
JHBLive: One half of the duo, Skitzo, is son to '80s and early '90s Afro jazz stalwart Babsy Mlangeni. How has this influenced the makeup of C9ine?
C9ine: Music has always been a big part of both our lives and families, which have played and continue to play a big role in our musical journey. To have someone who is in the mainstream industry in our corner is always a plus. He gave us insight into the industry - about how to carry ourselves as budding musicians and how one should respect one's own name - and the world will respect us. We are where we are today because of our families and people that guided us from an early time in our journey.
JHBLive: C9ine also performs with vocalist Paul Olivera from Mozambique - how do you achieve a seamless performance on stage as a live band?
C9ine: The key is to be well rehearsed. We put a lot of hours into our craft and it doesn't hurt to have a talented musician such as Paul with us on stage. We are blessed to have such a vast number of talented artists in our camp, the whole band gels very well and that also plays a big role in our synergy on stage.
JHBLive: What should audiences expect from your latest release A Million Sprockets?
C9ine: This album is very diverse and has a little bit of everything for everyone. One can expect to journey with us through melody and see the world from our perspective. It was created with the purpose of self-discovery through sound.
JHBLive: What's the story with the title?
C9ine: Sprockets are the mechanics that enable machinery to be in motion. As with all artists, we always try to go above and beyond our last project and this is an exact representation of the fact that we are moving onward in life and in all things music.
JHBLive: C9ine has done projects with household names such as Atjazz, Cozmiq, Kholi and Mr. Dex. What do you attribute such leaps to?
C9ine: This year marks 10 years of C9ine making music together, and over the years we've always wanted to work with people that we looked up to and musicians who we felt had the appeal that we were looking for. We just kept making music and the rest was God's doing.
JHBLive: A lot of house music has recently 'gone live'. What makes you different from the rest of the pack?
C9ine: For us, going live was a natural progression, as we were never DJs. We always try to give the audience something memorable when they experience our performances and make them journey to places they never thought existed. It's about exploration and discovery through music.
JHBLive: What other ventures does C9ine dabble in besides the music?
C9ine: We always want to give back to the community we came from and others like it, because we want to serve as an example that we are more than the circumstances that we came from. We also ventured into other parts of the media and entertainment world to seek out new avenues of success and prosperity to ensure that our legacy lives on.
by Kagiso Mnisi