Among the vanguard of the new wave of house music producers emerging from South Africa, Floyd Lavine is blazing his own trail. Growing up in a township near Johannesburg, he was schooled as much in Marvin Gaye as he was in what he calls the ‘bubblegum’ pop-soul of Soweto icon Yvonne Chaka Chaka. “There was always someone with the radio on in the neighbourhood,” he says. “It was all part of the soundtrack of growing up. Lionel Richie, The Commodores.”Exposure to house music came from mixtapes from his cousin, compiled by the likes of Oskido, Vinny Da Vinci and DJ Fresh (the South African one, rather than the drum & bass mainstay). They’d throw ‘disco parties’ and invite the local girls school. They didn’t know what they were doing, and barely knew how to set up the soundsystem, but still, something sparked, and after high school, Lavine enrolled in a sound engineering course.
Local Joburg venues like Oneonefive, Carfax and Truth scratched an itch, but the clubs he dreamed about weren’t at home. A year later, he moved to London, enrolling at the University Of Westminster to study production and music business, which had the added benefit of proximity to superclubs such as Fabric and Ministry.“This was my first experience of what a club could really look like, going to Fabric and thinking, ‘What is this?’” he says. He took in everything he possibly could, from upscale clubs to East London raves, Damian Lazarus’ messy Monday nights at the T-Bar to the messier-still afterparty Jaded at The End.
“I’d never been to a metropolis city before. My eyes were opened, and I was curious. You could see everything; Luciano and Ricardo [Villalobos], Louie Vega, stuff like Soul Heaven, it was the whole scope. You could choose your mood, and that was important.” He began throwing his own parties around 2009, called Excuse The Mess, before moving back to Cape Town in 2010 (the World Cup was on, and he felt nostalgic for home). He began releasing solo tracks in 2011, the first on Alex Arnout’s Dogmatik. His first official release got a re-rub from Nocturnal Sunshine, Maya Jane Coles’ occasional alias. Since then, productions have landed on Murmur and Moon Harbour. “Back home, I felt like I could be one of the few people doing something on a level of what was going on in Europe, from my experiences in London,” he says. Launching parties — and a label — called Nomadiq, Floyd and his crew pooled their savings and brought over DJs like Parisian don Jef K and David Meyer from Keinemusik to Cape Town.But he got itchy feet again, and three years ago joined the house music exodus to Berlin. “It’s amazing,” he says. “It’s such an interesting city. And I have the space to really concentrate on music.”
He had visited in the past, taking in clubs such as Berghain and Sisyphos, as well as having flown some of Berlin’s Watergate crew over to Cape Town to play his parties. Now, they’ve returned the favour. His monthly party Rise, also a label, celebrated its third birthday at Watergate last year, with Henrik Schwarz, his countryman Black Coffee and Osunlade at the controls. Meanwhile, this summer will take him to Croatia, Toronto, Brazil, and Greece, plus there’s a remix in the pipeline for Kerri Chandler. No pressure, then.