28 January 2022 : Ballantine’s Scotch whisky, a Pernod Ricard brand, and long-term partner Boiler Room are pledging to do their part in creating a safer, fairer future for music culture through their new global event series True Music Studios. Building on their commitment from the past seven years to champion global diversity in music, True Music Studios will bring together a variation of artists, promotors, panelists, and underrepresented groups, to celebrate local sounds, scenes and diverse communities, offering music fans around the world inclusive experiences both in real life and streamed from home.
The global residencies will open their doors for up to ten days, offering a series of 30+ inclusive music events, in compliance with local COVID measures, to bring fans back together after the industry’s 20 month hiatus of live events. Taking place across eight countries, the series kicked off with Russia in November. True Music Studios features a mix of live performances, educational events and community experiences curated by cutting edge collaborators who are pushing forward local music scenes including Kedr Livanskiy (Moscow, Russia), Ms. Nina (Madrid, Spain) and DBN Gogo (Johannesburg, South Africa).
Music fans can expect live and globally streamed performances from the pioneering headline acts, shared with millions around the world, along with special guest appearances by those defining each scene. There will also be educational ‘in conversation’ talks with leading artists, promoters and producers from the local communities who are pushing boundaries and shaping scenes, and masterclasses with local collectives. Community events will see local promoters being handed the keys to the True Music Studios to set the stage for emerging talent, providing listening sessions and creative spaces where music collectives can collaborate.
Each residency is unearthing the sounds and scenes from each city; in Moscow Kedr Livanskiy kicked off with Club, Hip-Hop and Alto-Pop, In South Africa, the hybrid sounds of Amapiano will be led by the dubbed female boss who helped define the scene, DBN Gogo.
Music lovers will see the Possible hitmaker, DBN Gogo curate a 9 days experience that will include live performances from Mzansi’s top Amapiano vocalists Boohle and Lady Du headlining the globally streamed parties, the line up also includes Musa Keys, Young Stunna, Kelvin Momo, Que DJ, DJ Stokie, Kyotic, Unclewaffles, Ms Party and Sfarzo Rtee.
The series will also include educational talks aimed at tackling how South African music has rapidly grown internationally in recent years. Key industry players will unpack the journey and challenges in the music industry that ultimately culminated in this rise and global recognition. This pivotal conversation hosted by DJ and radio presenter Lamiez Holworthy will include creative force Busiswa, DBN Gogo herself, as well as the senior marketing and PR expert, Ayanda Mhlongo.
Tom Elton, Head of Culture and Partnerships at Ballantine’s says “Our Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music events have always been special as we dig deep into local cultures around the world and celebrate the raw sounds and inspirations that make the individual scenes so unique. Building on the past seven years, True Music sets itself an ambition to be a trusted and leading voice for diversity and inclusion within music culture. We recognise our role in driving change, and this is what music fans want. The effects of the past 18 months have resulted in a positive shift in attitude and an opportunity to reset and club together to increase equality in music culture. The dancefloor has always been seen as a sacred and safe place and we want to bring it back to where everyone is equal and feels part of the experience. We all have a part to play, and True Music Studios is our first opportunity to put our diversity and inclusivity pledges into practice.”
This initiative follows the release of Ballantine’s ‘Resetting the Dancefloor’ report which revealed 1 in 3 people have been victims of discrimination at live music events. Alongside key figureheads within the industry, Ballantine’s aims to shine a light on and tackle issues of inclusion and diversity in music, calling on the industry – and fans alike – to club together to initiate change. Following nightlife reopening and a post pandemic ‘reset’, True Music Studios marks Ballantine’s own action and commitment to help drive real change in the industry, through its new diversity and inclusion policy that looks at leading issues within music culture:
o Diverse programming: ensuring all True Music line-ups and content represent diverse communities
o Fair payment: ensuring that no fee gap exists by taking an active role in making sure talent are paid and treated fairly
o Inclusive dancefloors: making safe dancefloors a priority and committing to bringing one billion music fans inclusive True Music experiences through its safe dancefloor policy
The brand will also be distributing a six-figure fund to emerging organisations and collectives around the world to support them in promoting and progressing equality within their scenes.
In South Africa True Music Studios will provide community emerging talents a platform to make use of the space for listening sessions and creative collaborations with Lawk Fest and premier LBGTQI event platform, Same Sex Saturdays. The community events will also include Ebumnandini & Prime, DJ Lag, Blxckie, Lelowhatsgood and Kat Upendi.
Here are the Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music Studios tour dates in South Africa:
22 Feb – In Conversation With Busiswa, Lamiez Holworthy, DBN Gogo, & Ayanda Mhlongo: The Rise and Rise of SA Music
23 Feb – IDA dance workshop and Pretty Girls Love Amapiano
24th Feb – Party Broadcast: Boohle (Live) / Young Stunna (Live); DJ Stokie / Kyotic / UncleWaffles / Sfarzo Rtee
25th Feb – True Music Fund Party: Ebumnandini x Prime.
26th Feb – Community Party: Same Sex Saturdays
1 March – Masterclass with Thuli of Lawk Communications: Music Industry 101
2 March – Community Party: Lawk Fest Takeover
3 March – Party Broadcast: Lady Du (Live) / Reece Madlisa & Zuma (Amaroto) / Musa Keys / Kelvin Momo / Que DJ / Ms Party
To find out more about the South African Ballantine’s True Music series activities visit www.ballantines.com/en/true-music/
All Covid -19 protocols will be observed
Join in the conversation on social media:
Hashtag: #TrueMusic #TrueMusicStudios #Ballantines
Ballantine’s is the No.1 Scotch whisky in Europe and the No. 2 Scotch whisky in the world with the range selling over 70 million bottles a year worldwide. Ballantine’s has won more than 130 trophies and medals at international competitions in the past 10 years for its outstanding quality, thanks to its unique richness of character and perfect balance. The range, from Ballantine’s Finest to the exclusive 40-year old, is the most extensive in the world of Scotch and is maintained by master blender Sandy Hyslop, continuing the brand’s tradition of master blenders that dates back to 1827.
Ballantine’s was created as a Whisky for Everyone; “A Friend to All Humankind” and is passionate about bringing out the real you to create moments that matter. Our Stay True platform guides everything we do, from retaining the same style of Finest since its launch in 1910 to championing true music and supporting emerging talent. It’s an invitation for people to get to know themselves and have the confidence to stand by it and be true to themselves creating moments that matter.
“Stay true and excellence will always be by your side.” These are the immortal words of our founder, George Ballantine, that we still follow to this day.
About Boiler Room:
Boiler Room started with a webcam taped to a wall, opening a keyhole into London’s underground. Since 2010, they’ve built a unique archive spanning over 8000 performances by more than 5000 artists across 200 cities. Today, they remain true to that history. They support emerging artists. They tell stories from the fringes. They connect local dance floors to the wider world.
Boiler Room x Ballantine’s True Music Studios tour dates:
Moscow, Russia 30th November – 9th December
Madrid, Spain 18th – 27th January
Johannesburg, South Africa 22nd February – 3rd March
Kyiv, Ukraine 22nd – 24th March
Nairobi, Kenya 12th – 14th April
Yaoundé, Cameroon, 3rd – 5th May
New York, USA 24th – 26th May
Medellin, Colombia 28th – 30th June
Our very own collaborator and Amapiano boss, universally loved for her captivating DJ sets and high energy charisma.
A huge personality in the scene with an avid online following and one of the seminal Amapiano hosts, watch out for the killer dance moves too!
The breakout singer from Vosloorus, East Johannesburg, has had a rapid ascent. Whether it’s on her hits Wamuhle, Mama or Inyembezi, or her hook on Cassper Nyovest’s enormous global hit Siyathandana, her gospel-influenced vocals are currently inescapable in the Amapiano landscape.
Undoubtedly Amapiano’s current hottest name, Young Stunna has followed a string of hits with a huge album in ‘Notumato’, which not only hit number one in South Africa but has charted high across the continent. With heavyweight co-signs from the likes of Maphorisa and Kabza De Small, the only way is up for this incredible talent.
Stokie has long been a trendsetter in the Amapiano scene, breaking tunes long before the public get their hands on it. As one of the most respected DJs currently doing it that side, the BR debut was long overdue!
The resident DJ for Back To The City Festival (aka the biggest Hip Hop festival in Africa), and an incredibly versatile DJ who can play music from right across the SA music spectrum.
A viral sensation, her stock has risen exponentially after a video of her dancing to her own set put the internet alight. While she undoubtedly has charisma by the tonne, it’s underpinned by a very astute and finessed track selection which keeps the grooves heavy and deep.
One for those that know, Pretoria’s Sfarzo Rtee has been a secret weapon for club-ready Amapiano selectors for a few years. Now finding his own success with huge tracks such as ‘Possessed Whistle’ it’s time to give him his shot.
Singer, rapper, DJ, producer, dancer, radio presenter… There’s very little Lady Du doesn’t do, and do well. As one of the most prominent and recognisable voices in the Amapiano scene, her talents have been employed by its biggest stars, from Maphorisa to JazziQ.
Reece Madlisa & Zuma (Amaroto)
Despite being relatively new to the scene – having released the first Amaroto record in 2020, Reece and Zuma have quickly shot to the top of the scene as two of amapiano’s most charismatic performers and consistent hitmakers. Having worked with a who’s-who of the production superstars, from DJ Maphorisa to Mr Jazziq to Busta 929, the Amaroto stock continues to rise
Tipped to be one of the scene’s next global production stars, Musa has been building a steady catalogue of hits, not least his ‘Vula Mlomo’ and huge collaboration with DBN Gogo – ‘Possible’. Also a skilled dancer and a style icon, this could very well be the spark that he needs to go global.
Known for his deep and soulful production, Kelvin Momo is known for keeping things classy, with understated club tracks that are heavy on mood and low on cheap pyrotechnics.
Que DJ (gqom set)
Once half of the all-powerful Distruction Boyz duo, Que has branched out on his own to create a refined Gqom sound that has a polished and refined feel, but still manages to capture the rhythmic chaos that makes the genre so exciting.
A long time fixture on the Joburg DJ circuit, Olwee made their first step into releasing music in a big way with the Josiah De Disciple and Lady Du featuring ‘Ms Party’. One of the few openly queer DJs in the Amapiano scene.
The cultural powerhouse that is Lawk hosts a spin-off event from their huge flagship event (the last festival had thousands of attendees) showcasing their new signing and up and coming talent, with a few special guests in the mix…
Same Sex Saturdays
As Joburg premier LGBTQI event, SSS has provided an essential and flourishing platform and space for the cities queer scene. DBN Gogo has played several of their events, and they are renowned for their vibrant party atmosphere.
Mellow & Sleazy
Mellow and Sleazy represent the new generation of Amapiano vocalists.
Additional artists featuring in the programme, amongst others:
- Ebumnandini & Prime
- DJ Lag
- Lamiez Holworthy
- Ayanda Mhlongo
- Thuli Keupilwe of Lawk Communications
- Blxckie (Live)
- Kat Upendi