Chee is flying the flag for South African bass music

Chee Profile

Having first stumbled upon Chee through some Soundcloud trawling a few years ago, I was immediately impressed by the slick but obscure characteristics of his productions. As a young South African artist (only in his early 20s!) he has already achieved more than most of his counterparts. With firm support from industry heavyweights such as Noisia, Mat Zo and Bleep Bloop and an American tour on the horizon, I caught up with him to discuss the development of his career and the responsibilities of being a young artist from South Africa breaking the mold.

Hey Chee! Firstly, congratulations on the US tour! Before we get into that, I would like to know how your journey has been so far, specifically as an artist representing a genre that is vastly under-appreciated and under-represented in South Africa?

Hey, thanks for having me. I don’t necessarily focus too much on where my music has an impact, as long as people enjoy it, that’s what matters. I generally just like making music. The journey of making music is the exciting part – more than the end result. Creating art takes a lot of patience and that’s probably why a lot of people feel intimidated by it especially when you compare your art to others. Just have a passion for it. Do it for yourself!

What have some of the struggles been, not only as a ‘young’ artist, but also more specifically as an artist operating primarily in South African territory?

Surprisingly not that many downsides, just a lot of support from the guys that have been in the game for a long time – apart from being patronized by the general public because I’m usually the youngest wherever I am. The only struggle I guess is maybe being looked down on because of my age, which is slightly ignorant, because with the amount of information and resources pumped into the internet on the regular you are bound to find a wiz child reverse engineering clocks!

You are unapologetically outspoken on issues surrounding the politics of the scene, particularly via social media. Why do you feel it is important to make your voice heard in such a way, and what are some of the things that have surprised you in the murky territory of digital/web communities?

It just sucks seeing people with so much power take advantage of rising artists. When you’re entering a scene, the people you start to network with can be crucial on your outlook of the ‘scene’ as a whole. You could be introduced to the ugly side of things first and have a bad first impression when its not really about that. Working with other people can be the best or worst thing for your career and there’s nothing you can do about it. The fun part about the industry is that there’s no standard system, but that can also be a catch. Seeing people that work hard getting screwed over grinds my gears.

Beyond your own solo project, you also work in side-projects and are a keen collaborator. In your opinion, why is it important to diversify and go beyond your own immediate personal space?

Things tend to get repetitive if you’re always working in the same space and with the same routine – eventually the music becomes boring. Collaborating is always fun because you exchange ideas with other creators and get dragged out of your comfort zone which is necessary in every form of art.

Having already played in most parts of South Africa, from small clubs to larger festivals, what is it about the prospect of international travel and gigging that excites you most? Particularly considering how much support you have actually received outside of your home country?

Meeting new people! A change in environment is a really inspiring thing. I get overwhelmed and anxious just thinking about it, but at the same time I’m impatient and overly ecstatic. I’ve got some mixed emotions about the imperial system though, but I’ll adapt! [laughs].

Finally, given the previous question, you are about to embark on a tour of the US! Please give us more details on that and also elaborate on what this means for your career and where this places you within the global bass music community.

The tour starts in October just after my Oppikoppi gig in Limpopo. I have a few days left until I hit Los Angeles for the start of the tour. I’ll be touring mainly with PROKO and NastyNasty who are some really talented dudes. I’ll also be playing some other shows with artists I’ve looked up to for years like Bleep Bloop, X&G, Paint (Huxley Anne x Tsuruda) and Frequent! Not too sure when exactly I’ll be back as we might still get more shows while I’m there. Right now, only time will tell where I stand in this industry. My main objective is to make more music and have fun while doing so. Can’t think of anything else I really want from all this. I’m also releasing something very special soon!

For more on Chee, follow him here.