Interview by Chris Timm
You very recently launched your new website, radio platform, and online store (www.theother.co.za). Many collectives, events, and companies have been forced to work digitally due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Was this progression to an online platform (particularly The Other Radio) always something you had in mind or a fairly new development?
It’s definitely something we’ve been working towards for a while. We started taking things a bit more seriously about two years ago, eager to start a more in-depth development of what The Other could be — turns out it could be a lot of things, and we had a lot of ideas!
We tried to do everything at once at first, but didn’t really gain traction the way we had imagined.
For example we started doing a radio show back then, but struggled to commit to frequent recordings with everything we had going on. So we simplified things, focusing on one element at a time. The Other Events and The Other DJs were already underway, but we surprised ourselves with the relatively quick launch of The Other Records, quickly becoming a very demanding and gratifying aspect of The Other. We learned a lot about running a business in its first year, shelving some projects until we could afford to attempt them again, time-wise and financially.
So with the pandemic suddenly catching the world off guard, we had very specific things we’ve been meaning to properly set up for ourselves, which is pretty much everything we’ve launched with the past week. In a way, the time spent in isolation has given us new perspective on The Other, and I think it makes more sense now than ever.
The Other has been predominantly a music/events company, not to mention your record shop. However, the launch of your website also saw the start of The Other Design which focuses on “visual identities, web design, and brand positioning.” What sparked the incorporation of a graphic design component into your already established event, record, and music company?
The Other was started by three friends with different work backgrounds, one of which is graphic design. We’ve always prided ourselves on the distinct visual output for The Other – it really excites us when we manage to capture our thoughts visually. It stretches through our events and our radio shows. Johan has been doing this professionally for many years, and as The Other grew, it became more and more linked to music. It seemed like the logical next step to include it as a service. So if you want some design work, go check our portfolio on the site, get in touch.
With the widespread popularity of streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, what is the function of having a radio platform like The Other Radio?
I think it’s totally different from something like Spotify. There’s a more active level of engagement through online radio. It’s not an algorithm feeding into what you already like, it’s music you grow to understand and appreciate through the personalities that present it. I also think it’s inherently more of a community – not only does it often feature music that’s totally off the grid, so to speak, but it features some of the very people making up our scene punting the music that in turns makes them. That’s a pretty fresh thing.
Radio is different to streaming platforms like Spotify. It’s not an algorithm feeding into what you already like, it’s music you grow to understand and appreciate through the personalities that present it.
The Waiting Room seems to be your location of choice when it comes to throwing events, particularly ‘Swim.’ What about this space works with the type of environment you try to create?
Do you remember The Room of Requirement from Harry Potter? We recently watched all the films again (I’m sure everyone on lockdown can relate). The room basically appears to whoever needs it badly enough for whatever purpose they require. Waiting Room kind of reminds me of this. It’s comfy. There’s room to dance, room to relax. It’s hosted live jazz, ambient sets, rap battles and oddball dance parties like ours.
What do you hope to see when you throw an event?
The reactions from people who haven’t been our events before and hand themselves over to the night. You can always find them on the dancefloor, easy to spot. It’s that one kid who’s about to embark on a queer odyssey for the first time, or the up-until-now dedicated psy-trance jock who just hasn’t been exposed to different kinds of music yet, or the girlfriend who ditches her other friends for a night of debauchery with complete strangers; somehow, we’re all connected. That, and of course, when the crowd creates a hive mind around whatever is happening, around the music, sharing this beautiful “this is it” kind of mentality. That’s when a night out transcends being just a night out, becomes an infinite moment. Then maybe we all head to the afters!
You have worked with such a wide variety of collectives, people and companies. Volkswagen, Good Good Good, Max Bagels, Death of Glitter to name a few. What gives your company the ability to successfully work with such a diverse list of names?
It comes from our individual goings-on that we easily bring back into The Other. Johan worked on Volkswagen, we’ve all worked with Good Good Good and the Death of Glitter collaboration was born out of mutual appreciation for each other and high concept raves. The Other I think has always been about identifying the strengths of its members. We see how we can inspire growth in each other, and sometimes that growth becomes shared between all of us. It becomes something we unite behind and assume collective responsibility for.
Aaron has his extensive background in music- and artist management; Matt has booked some of the most consistent and impressive line-ups this side of the hemisphere; Johan runs several creative outputs, including his work as a designer; Kyle is one of South Africa’s leading techno DJs; and Roxy, latest to the team, does wardrobe styling and plays in nearly every band in Cape Town these days. This doesn’t even account for the many people we surround ourselves with, like Louis Pienaar and everybody involved with Search Festival. It’s these people and these skills working together that connect us to the potent things we’ve done, and will be sure to do in future.
The Other has grown, changed, and developed so much over time. Where do you see The Other ten years from now?
Hopefully with a better file management system.
Get hold of The Other:
The Other — theother.co.za
The Other Records — records.theother.co.za
The Other Radio — https://www.mixcloud.com/TheOtherRadio/
The Other DJs — https://soundcloud.com/theotherdjs
Some Sundays (The Other Records’s in-store DJ sessions)