LIL BOW – Photo Credit: Leigh-Taylor-Photography
lil’ bow was born, quite by accident, one night in Braamfontein. Equipped with a set of her father’s old headphones from the 90s (in an uncool, unironic way), a once-off set with friends soon turned into a regular song and dance.
lil’ bow (pronounced “bo’”) is short but her music taste is big, making it damn near impossible to pin down her sets. Her style is nostalgic but fresh; filthy but pretty, which she blends into a narrative.
She’ll take you on a musical journey, playing anything from hip hop, dancehall, moombahton, trap, swing, rock ‘n roll, funk, soul, jazz, disco, buried treasure and a whole lot of other made up genres in between.
She’s jammed all over JHB (Great Dane, Kitchener’s, CCHQ, The Alex Theatre, Bassline, The Living Room) and even PTA (Arcade Empire), CT (Assembly) and DBN (The Winston, Cool Runnings and Boulevard).
And played a few events too – Vodacom In The City 2013, 2014 & 2015, UB40, Converse Presents: Get Dirty, Sowing the Seeds 2012 & 2013, Cool as Folk Jozi, Adidas Infinite Possibilities Block Party, Adidas Originals Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, PUMA Love Thy Planet Party, FHM 100 Sexiest Women Party, Let’s Swing It, Maloof Money Cup (Kimberley), Jozi Craft Beer Fest, AKEDO online store launch, Graffiti South Africa Book Launch, Disaronno: The Showcase and Fuzigish ‘Crazy Friends’ Album Launch.
We managed to sit down with this awesome las for a quick chat on her musical journey, some of her highlights and what we can expect from the Lets Swing It – Family Picnic, this is how it went down:
Interview: LIL BOW
LIL BOW – Photo Credit: Jonx-Pillemer-Photography
- Hey there Lil Bow… it is such a pleasure to be featuring you on the site!! How you doing today?
Why hello. It’s so rad to be here!
- Lets kick this off with an introduction… Tell us who is Lil Bow? Where are you from? How did DJ’ing come about?
I am a DJ from Joburg (aka Hate City). DJing was one of those things that found me, not the other way round. I’ve always loved music and had quite eclectic taste, and in turn, would share my findings on social media. Seeing my relentless music posts, a friend of mine, Rob Cass, was throwing a party at Kitchener’s and decided they needed a girl on the line up and asked me to play. I’d never done anything like that before or even considered it. So I got there, beyond nervous as Rob gave me a 5-minute CDJ crash course before I played, and the rest is history I guess. There’s something powerful about hearing the songs you love playing really loud on a banging sound system, and better yet, seeing people dance to them. More gigs started popping up after that so I just went with it, and now, five years later, I can’t imagine my life without it.
- Was music a big influence for you growing up? What music did you most favour as a youngster?
Music has always been a huge influence in my life. From inheriting a passion for it from my parents who listened to a lot of 60s and 70s rock and blues, to growing up in the punk scene – it’s always been something I’ll fall on a sword for and talk about for hours. I think 12 is that magic age when a kid really starts to take an interest in music and seeks it out for his/herself – a quest that leads you beyond the confines of the radio and mainstream culture. That was me – pre-Internet, absorbing every music magazine I could get my hands on, and spending hours in CD shops listening to a stack of artists I’d never heard of. From age 12 up, I listening to a lot of punk rock, ska and grunge, then later hip hop. They’re all very DIY scenes where the artists take risks and say what they want, even if it’s not popular (particularly when it’s not popular). And all the sub-cultures that went along with that like skateboarding, street art and ‘zines very much shaped me into who I am today. Now I listen to so many different types of music – becoming a DJ has definitely helped broaden my taste. When I hear something that has some grit or a bit of an edge, it always resonates with me more.
LIL BOW – Photo Credit: Justin-Lee-Photography
- How would you describe your ’sound’ or musical taste now? You seem to have a wide variety of music that you mash up for every occasion?
Yeah it all depends on the occasion, the crowd and my mood. People say I have a particular sound which is cool, but I also think I’m pretty versatile. I’ll never play a song I don’t love or something you can’t dance to – those are my two rules.
I would say my sound as a DJ is nostalgic but fresh, filthy but pretty. I love beat-driven, bassy stuff and mostly play hip hop (peppered with swing, funk and soul), dancehall and moombahton. But there’s the other side of me with my rock ‘n roll roots that loves to play guitar music, depending on the party and the people. And I LOVE a good 80s or 90s party.
I like to build narratives into my sets – a musical journey of sorts. A song that follows the next to me will just ‘feel’ right and add to the story. This is why I move between genres quite often, but I’ll still play quintessential Lil’ Bow songs, if that makes sense.
- Besides being a DJ, are you also involved in a LIVE project or working on production?
As a DJ, I feel like I’ll never stop learning. There’s always more you can do to get better and perfect your craft. But I’d really like to get into production one day. I have ideas for sounds, now I’d like to learn how to make them.
- What are you thoughts of the current club/event/festival scene in SA? Any things you wish we saw more of?
I think the South African music industry is a doubled-edged sword. On the one hand we have this ‘It’s good … for South Africa’ attitude which breeds lethargy and mediocrity. I think overall (and maybe this comes down to confidence and experience) we should work on our showmanship. So many international acts get on stage and blow everyone away – commanding the entire crowd’s attention and pulling out all the stops for the performance.
On the other hand we’re really hard on each other – often comparing ourselves with and feeling inferior to artists and scenes overseas. But there’s something rad happening in the local hip hop and electronic scenes. Internationals are looking to us going “Damn, that’s fresh.” A unique South African sound is emerging, even Noisey and HYPETRAK are turned onto it. That’s pretty exciting.
I love when people take risks. Play that song you want to play, even if it doesn’t perfectly match your BPM. Play the lesser-known track of the well-known artist. Play the kind of stuff that is un-Shazam-able so that people come up to you while you’re playing to find out the name of the song ‘cause they’re so hyped on it.
- Are there any local acts that you think we need to look out for? Any acts that you are loving at the moment?
There are so many! But these few come to mind. I love the BeatNN Crew, Yugen Blakrok, Maramza, DJ Niffty, Boyzn Bucks, Felix Laband, DJ Danger Ingozi, The Klassikist, DJ Bob, Bombshelter Beast.
- You will be playing at LET’S SWING IT – Family Picnic, on the 9th April. Are you excited for this event? What can we look forward to in your set? Or must we just be there to experience it ourselves?
I’m so excited to play. I love the Let’s Swing It parties – they’re always so considered and everyone involved puts in so much effort. You can’t go to one and not dance. Swing (in all its variations) brings a surprisingly diverse group of people together. And now there’s a family picnic so err’body is invited! I’ll be playing a mix of swing and swing-hop. There’s something about pairing swing and hip hop together that just works so well.
- Anything that you are currently working on that we would be interested in hearing about?
A tour is on the cards. Watch this space.
- Where can we follow you on Social media?
- Thanks for your time guys…!!
No, you hang up. J