DigiSpotlight: All Eyes on ProtocultureJune 16th, 2011 ⋅ Music ⋅ by Megan
South Africa isn’t often the first country that pops into mind when you think about the global EDM scene, but amongst the stunning scenery and beautiful geography that make South Africa one of the most remarkable spots in the world is a thriving dance music industry comprised of some very dedicated and talented DJs. It’s no surprise then that when Armin chose Johannesburg as the launch city for his ASOT 500 celebrations earlier this year he also selected one of the leaders of the scene, DJ and Producer Nate Raubenheimer, aka Protoculture, to help him kick things off.
With ten years of DJ’ing under his belt, Protoculture has rocked dancefloors around the world, playing alongside a diverse range of international heavyweights such as Paul van Dyk, Sasha, John 00 Flemming, Orbital, Future Sound of London, Juno Reactor, and Sander van Doorn, to name but a few. The last year has seen really seen Protoculture step up his game, with collaborations with Max Graham, releases under Armada Records, and support from Dj’s such as Armin van Buuren, Markus Schulz, Christopher Laurence and John 00 Flemming. We caught up with Protoculture recently to hear his take on the EDM scene in South Africa, what it was like to play alongside the world’s #1 DJ, and of course, what the story is behind the name…..
Hi Protoculture! A warm welcome to digi10ve It’s lovely to be speaking with you today. How are you and where abouts in the world are you at the moment?
I’m currently back home getting some studio work done, but I’m off again in a few days to Japan to play with Gareth Emery at Ageha in Tokyo.
We’re sure you have been asked this already a million and one times, but do tell us about how you got your name…
Its from an old Japanese Anime show I used to watch as a kid called Robotech (Macross in Japan). I’m a bit of a sci fi geek. The protoculture in the serious was basically human love and emotion which I thought was kinda cool. Also, if you deconstruct the word, it basically translates to “the first” or “the Original” culture.
So you grew up in South Africa, what was that like? What’s the music industry like down there and how has it evolved since your youth?
I love living in South Africa. Its a long way to travel from but the sheer beauty of the country and the friendly people here make it worthwhile. The music industry is really going from strength to strength at the moment. I think dance music is definitely on its way up, especially with artists like Black Coffee, Goldfish, Die Antwoord, Dirty Hertz and others all taking to the international stage now.
This past March, the world’s #1 DJ, Armin Van Buuren, kicked off his A State of Trance radio show’s 500 celebration in Johannesburg, which you got to be a part of (We were listening from LA by the way, mad props to you on a killer set!) Tell us what this was like and what the highlights were for you…
It was honestly one of the most amazing gigs I’ve ever done. Tons of people, amazing production, great line up… but the most amazing thing is the reaction to the live radio broadcast. ASOT is a bit of an institution and the followers are so dedicated. I couldn’t actually highlight anything for you as the whole night was just such a blast.
What kind of impact do you think the ASOT celebrations had on the trance scene in SA?
There’s been a marked increase in interest in the trance seen since. Trance has been a bit on the down low for the last few years… with ASOT I think people got a taste of how big a phenomena it has become internationally. Specially in Cape Town, we’ve always had a big psy trance scene which I’ve been a part of for many years, but I think people are starting to realise that trance and psy have a lot more in common than what they previously thought.
Although the focus of the global EDM scene is definitely shifting away from its core in Europe and spreading to more distant parts of the world, South Africa often remains cut off from the major players in this scene just based on its location. Do you ever find it difficult to work on collaborations being so distant from Europe? How do you think the dance scene in SA could attract more big names?
Its not as far removed as you might think… we’ve had a slew of top internationals down here in the last few months from Armin, Markus Schulz, Above and Beyond, Sid van Riel, Ferry Corsten, and others. On top of that, South Africa has always had a fairly established EDM scene with crowds into everything from Dubstep to Psy Trance to House. When it comes to collaborations, living far away doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t collaborate. Most work I do with Internationals these days I do over skype and dropbox… dropbox will only sync the changes in a project so its really easy wokring and automatically uploading and updating files. I’ve been working very closely with Max Graham at Rebrand lately… and we’ve never even met face to face!
2011 is certainly gearing up to be a massive year for you. In addition to playing the ASOT 500 celebrations, your recent production with Shannon Hurley ‘Sun Gone Down’ has been getting some serious love from the industry and your fans. Can you tell us what the inspiration was behind this track?
Coming from the underground Psy scene, I’ve never worked much with vocals before. I’d done some work with Max Graham on “Nothing Else Matters” and “So Caught Up” and really enjoyed it. Those tunes were co-written with Raz Nitzan and Adrien Broekhuyse, so Max introduced me and we started working on Sun Gone Down. I knew the first time I heard Shannon’s voice on the track that we had something special. It really just fell into place from there onwards.
Out of all the remixes and productions you have done to date, do you have a personal favorite or one you are most proud of?
I loved working on the remix for Armin’s “Orbion”. It was a huge honour for me to get asked to do that with Max and I think it turned out really well. We got a huge response for it when we premiered it at ASOT500
What can we expect to hear from you in the next few months? Any exclusive news you can share with us? Will we be seeing you in the US or abroad anytime soon?
I’ve finished another remix for Anjunabeats for a really classic track they released last year from one of their artists. Can’t say more for now… Other than that I’ve got some new things I’m working on with Max, a new vocal I just started on with Raz Nitzan as well, and some other bits and bobs in the pipeline. We’re working on some US dates towards the end of the year, although I don’t think it will be a major tour at this point as I’m pretty busy in Brazil and South America around that time. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Before you go is there anything else you would like to share with all us digi10vers out there and your fans?
Thanks for the interview.. great chatting to you guys. Can’t wait to get down to the US at some point and come party with you guys down there!
Protoculture ft. Shannon Hurley: Sun Gone Down
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