”Written byNick Trethowan & Liam Girie
denoting a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about.
Do you believe in Ghosts? We do.
We’re not talking about Casper or the Holy Spirit, but another type of Ghost: a creative and cultural venue that was arguably one of the most exciting event spaces to happen in Cape Town in the last decade. A penthouse space on Loop Street, Ghost launched in collaboration with The Other, to become not only one of the voices of the independent scene but a community and space that afforded artists and creators a relaxed and beautiful environment to work, socialise and collaborate. Quickly it became a sunset spot unrivalled, where you could meet with your friends after work to listen to one of your favourite DJs play a show on the Radio or on weekends where it was a spot you would end up flaring at one of the diverse and exciting events by local collectives. It felt independent, original and refreshing.
The Other was instrumental in providing The Other Radio, an alternative platform for DJs and groups to practice their craft in a manner that also exemplified their skills to audiences that were experimenting with something different. The recent rise of independent radio in CT injected a much-needed vibrancy and connection into our scene over COVID, especially that now after the pandemic we have the ability to physically engage in these spaces. For many The Other, alongside Hamshack Radio, has de-constructed the stigma towards radio that only years of bad adverts and 30 seconds of over-enthusiastic radio dubs can do, (you’re listening to, lis-li-li-li-listening to, your favourite-fa-fa-favourite station) moving towards something akin to discovery and exploring different daily and weekly music tastes and expressions. Instead of algorithms dictating your music taste, selectors and DJs bring you the music that lifts them, to lift you. Discover Weekly on streaming platforms is great, no lie, but it’s just not the same. Thankfully.
Passionate about music and the industry of music culture and community, The Other was founded by Aaron Peters, Philippus Johan and Matt Hitchens, and focused on connecting music to all parties possible. And connect they do, from The Other Radio, to The Other Records and The Other DJ’S, the wide-ranging influence they have on the scene is indicative of the love and professionalism of The Others heads Aaron and Phillipus. Together with Greg (the owner of Ghost) the trio grew in possibility and plans. The space constantly shifted and sought to grow artistically, making it always feel new. For the first time since COVID, the future looked bright.
But while there are people like Greg, Aaron, Phillipus and Matt, who passionately care about the community and the work they do, staking themselves into everything they do, there are also people who only care about how much money can be made. Cape Town real estate is an ugly reminder that while you can dream, create and positively impact your art and passion, there will always be a business group looking to buy the building you’re in, fleece it of what made the building alive – it’s people – and renovate it for generic luxury apartments. Unfortunately, despite legal obligations and common decency, the group that owned the building misled and rickrolled Greg, renting the space to him, while selling it without him knowing and then dropping the bomb that Ghost had to close and The Other Radio would have to move.
This brings us to today, despite these unforeseen events, The Other Radio is still broadcasting and have plans to come back bigger and stronger than ever. With ongoing fundraising, there is still much to be done to make the dream a reality. We chatted with Phillipus and Aaron about their experiences, the focus points of The Other and how we can make The Other Radio Again.
The Other team and Greg the Ghost in the golden days for one of the happiest and loveliest team photos.
Aaron, you have an impressive history in the South African music industry. As someone with a finger on the pulse of SA music’s growing international acclaim, what do you think the future is looking like for local artists? Drawing from over a decade of experience in the industry, is there any advice you would impart on local up-and-coming artists?
Aaron Peters: “The industry is quite a bit different from when I started out. There are more labels, spaces, DIY parties, marginalised communities being represented, radio stations and just a stronger sense of connectedness amongst collectives. That’s the positive. On the flip, we have a lack of music journalism, venues, arts funding and tour circuits. Getting abroad is expensive and just not viable for so many artists and the Visa process can be an overwhelming experience. There are people who’ve made it work, travelling between territories each summer, so I’d suggest finding where you fit in globally, who your market is and if you’re able, take the plunge to get out there and connect with the types of artists, labels and spaces you could see yourself on lineups and release with. Easier said than done, but to try and make a living off music performing and releasing locally, especially in the more alternative spaces is going to be an uphill battle. I’d also advise musicians to look into different fields within the music business to create income streams from. Producing for other artists, mixing and mastering, writing music for film and adverts, writing ambient music for DSP playlists etc. If it’s not in music, that’s fine too 🙂 I’ve seen a few artists burn out trying to solely make music from their art and that’s a lot of pressure. You can always leave that work if the music side warrants it.
For DJs there are many in this city, the ones that I look to for bookings at Search or for radio shows are pushing the envelope. They’re generally the types of DJs who listen widely, outside of what they play or make. You don’t have to be niche or exceptionally different, but playing the same type of music as everyone else will get you lost in the masses.
Support the scene, get to know the promoters and venue owners, go to the club nights/gigs you want to play in. If it doesn’t exist, start your own night. Get a decent electronic press kit together. Bio, Press Pics, Techrider. If you’re not a good writer then get someone to write it with you, and for pics, professionally taken shots really make a difference.
Philippus, I have never seen a portfolio summary with so many full stops. Yours is perhaps the most multifarious commercial arts resume in independent South African radio. It is no doubt that this has played a big role in equipping you with the skills and knowledge to turn The Other into the success it has become. How would you describe the benefits of being such a jack of all trades?
Philippus Johan: “It’s nice to identify limits. You can work against them, which makes things easier – a clearer directive, or an opaque ceiling, to understand the scope of execution. So in the case of The Other Radio, where I had both massive creative influence while also wrangling with a shapeshifting product, the process was different, but perhaps closer to who I am as a person — scatterbrained. Being a johan-of-all-trades allowed me delve into areas outside of my classic work fields without feeling stifled trying to stay one-track minded. Some days I would care more about community management, and other days it’s all about product development. Turns out, that attitude benefitted the design quite a bit — the more the community grew and defined itself around our product and service, the more I could sincerely evolve our creative direction. You can become more open to unexpected influences if you allow yourself to geek out on things you don’t even know you’d be good at. Also, you used “multifarious commercial arts resume” in your question, which I just want to say is the closest thing to an award I have ever received.
I’d love to discuss the attractive and diverse vivaciousness of The Other DJs’ internationally acclaimed sets, but this is a given. Instead, I have to ask; What’s the story behind your beef with Psytrance?
PJ: “It’s giving PLUR.”
“Take the plunge to get out there and connect with the types of artists, labels and spaces you could see yourself on lineups and release with.” – Aaron Peters
The Other Records has been a longstanding passion project of your collective. Many Cape Town audiophiles, myself included, have fond memories of your old store off Lower Main in Observatory. What inspired the inception of The Other Records and how would you describe the importance of preserving spaces for the trade and appreciation of analogue music?
AP: “We don’t need a record store in 2022, but we love it and are excited about people discovering music in this way (not being fed by algorithms). Similar reasons to why we started the radio. Musically We felt the need for the kinds of music we were into but weren’t widely available in the city. Music for DJs but also the more experimental sounds of new age, ambient and experimental sounds. That’s what built the initial offering of the shop. We wanted a place for “other” music, the obvious place to look for less-obvious records. That space quickly became more than just records — we just lack creative information hubs in general, and locals and foreigners quickly learned to come ask there for what’s happening in the city. For releases we’ve been able to do listening sessions and release drops, which gave further marketing for our friends albums. Putting music out on wax is an expensive and difficult act in SA so we’ve been happy to help spread the word where we could. COVID really did a number on us, though, so we’re actively working on how to keep that appreciation of music angle alive while diversifying from the need to trade. The new store at One Park (1 Park Rd, Gardens) is definitely better geared to a full The Other experience, but definitely those early days in Obs were super formative to both us and the community.”
Side question: Vinyl records took off again in a big way during the early 2010s, due in large part to a revived global interest in record stores such as your own. Not too long after, artists from all rungs of the music industry began releasing their works on vinyl. Now fast-forward to 2022 where I can buy a Yëat album on vinyl off of Amazon (not that I would). The fact that the record press has avoided falling into obsolescence thanks in large part to modern artists adopting its use seems to me like it would be a good thing, yet many seem to disagree. Keyboard-bashing sound nerds have compelling arguments for why the redux of vinyls has, in some ways, potentially damaged the qualitative drawing factors of the medium. I am curious about your thoughts on the matter; what do you guys think about the state and role of records in modern times?
With music existing in digital spaces, it can become disposable. Having thousands of tracks in your online library, a lot has to be missed. Physically owning music is different. You’re paying attention to the artwork, liner notes, and generally experiencing full album listening. Sometimes thinking of what to play on the internet can be an overwhelming task! For EPs and Singles, that’s just a preference of DJs really. We’re not format snobs though. We both love Bandcamp and Soulseek lol, but we feel that having music as an archive is important for preservation in future years. CDs and Tapes included 🙂 If formats change and there are interesting ways to package digital music we’ll have that on the shelves too.
A record store and a thriving prominence in local and international DJ circuits clearly aren’t enough to sate The Other’s visceral connection to music. You also run and host The Other Radio, one of the city’s premier independent radio stations, which celebrates South African music in both niche and global contexts. What do you feel is the importance of The Other Radio being independent in its role of facilitating and encouraging a community of both listeners and artists?
PJ: “It’s interesting to note what independent means in this context. Independent in its vision and responsibility to ensure curation with our listeners at heart, yes. Does that mean working with organisations – both non-profit and otherwise – is off the cards? In South Africa, where access to funds for the arts is both incredibly limited and often impenetrable, a project like this can’t survive unless you’re privy to massive start-up capital (angel investors where you?) or are willing to play the long, difficult game to build value in your community to the point you have footing to stand on to lay clear terms on how you’d like to work together. So can a brand approach us to do a series with them, of course they can! We just play a very strong hand making sure our community isn’t taken advantage of and that whatever we do is sustainable for the upkeep of the radio.
Prior to now, The Other Radio was Hosted at Ghost until the money-hungry oligarchs of Cape Town Real estate shut the place down. This came as a blow to several creative operations within the local underground music scene, including your broadcasting space. With the dust settling, what are your thoughts on the situation when and after it unfolded?
PJ: “It all happened very quickly. We had so many plans and projects about to take effect when all this happened and essentially had to put everything on pause. Everything got thrown off – we had salaries to pay, radio hosts to continuously update and non-stop damage control to keep an eye on, on top of abandoning our much-loved iconic rooftop studio. On top of that, Cape Town hadn’t seen a truly independent creative events hub like Ghost in like, 10 years? It really was world-class and had so much potential. It came and went so quickly, but the energy we spent on it amounted to many years of our lives. RIP Ghost, shoutout to Greg for believing in us.
You guys have recently made your headquarters on Park Road in Gardens where The Other Record is currently situated. Following a huge event to celebrate and raise much-needed funds, how are you finding the new studio space?
PJ: “We will start construction soon! We’re extremely excited to join the One Park family. Built and owned by our dear friends Mishka and Matt, the ecosystem of an eatery, record store, listening bar and radio station is the kind of inspirational, world class experience. A big part of why we do what we do is the stubborn refusal that you have to go elsewhere to experience things like this, that South Africa, with all its troubles, cannot offer anything outside of that. But that’s just because nobody has tried! So, we’re trying really hard.”
The donations that have contributed to establishing your new studio is a clear indicator of how much the Cape Town music scene values The Other Radio. What are your thoughts on the outpouring of support you have received?
PJ: “Of course, we are humbled by the reactions and long-term love and support and words of encouragement we’ve received – the sheer amount of thank you posts we’ve put out into the world could validate starting an agency that specialised in them. The reality is that we’re in a global recession. It’s when it’s hardest to do something like this, and when the arts are at their most vulnerable. So again, thank you to everyone who believes in us and has been supporting us. We’re building something for all of us to be proud of!”
I understand your journey in returning The Other Radio to its robbed glory is ongoing. How can people continue to support the project?
PJ” We will leave donations open on Quicket (you can donate here) or to our PayPal, which can be sent to email@example.com as a recipient. We’ll throw some more parties too, keep your eyes open for those! We’re selling T-Shirts at @the_other_records. Keep streaming on theother.radio, we’ll be curating some of the best shows in our archives on the daily! We’re excited to see what the next year has in store for us. 🟢👀”
We are so stoked to see you at Smalltown Beat this November. What can we expect to see from The Other and will you be broadcasting from the festival?