South Africa is a country that’s home to some of the most talented, forward thinking and innovative artists currently defining the creative scene. But don’t be fooled, making it in local creative industry is no easy task. It takes time, money, passion, long days, and sleepless nights and even then, putting your work out into the world can be a daunting experience.
Enter Jam That Session (JTS), a niche creative platform born through the collective efforts of Cape Town based musicians Andiswa Mkosi and OBie Mavuso. Through the hosting of small scale events and tours, JTS provides a safe, intimate and like-minded space for young, black, aspirant artists and musicians. Although they host the odd big name artist, their goal is primarily to create a space for up and coming musicians to find their feet, hone their skills and network with other artists.
Sitting in the intimate, but ever bustling Nest Space in Cape Town where JTS host many of their events, Andy and OBie discuss the challenges of promoting a niche platform in the local scene, and the challenges of being a young artist in South Africa.
“I think people are still grappling with alternative musicians and still struggling to understand the new generation of artists coming out today,” begins OBie. “So it’s a very niche market which makes it very hard to promote.”
Despite the challenges, JTS have gone on to host a number of events across Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and more. Over the years they’ve showcased countless burgeoning artists as well as worked with a few well known names such as Nakhane Toure, Lebohang ‘Nova’ Masango, and Loyiso Mkize.
Perhaps most importantly, Andy and OBie aren’t simply event managers or promoters, but musicians themselves. Having both been involved with music from early ages, they know intimately, the fears, pitfalls, dreams, aspirations and other intricacies that young artists go through on a daily basis.
“I think the current generation of musicians that are establishing themselves are bold in what they have to say, their messages are very striking,” explains Andy. “There’s an emergence of artists becoming more independent and no longer relying on formalised labels in order for them to make a name for themselves. Although it’s more difficult, it’s such a great thing because now we can break those boundaries and move beyond what already exists.”
In terms of music acting as a platform for a discordant and at times, voiceless youth, JTS are convinced that it’s the perfect mouthpiece to broadcast a new thinking and a new way of engaging with contemporary struggles and everyday politics.
“Music is the instrument we are using as a generation to help change and shape the world that we live in. However, music alone isn’t enough. We need people to engage and to think when they make music or even when they interact with music. When that happens, we see things taking shape,” says OBie.
Looking forward, the two aim to keep on championing the voices that are so often marginalised in society. Through their events, their creative tours and their music, they will continue to provide a safe and empowering space for the people who are reshaping the creative industry through their art. The current generation, says the duo, are in exactly the same frame of mind.
“We as a generation are rewriting the South African narrative and we’re doing that through our music, photography, writing, film making − basically any skill we have − we’re using it to change everything that we can in South Africa,” concludes OBie. “And because it’s at a grassroots level it opens up channels of inclusion for artists like black queer artists, and all these previously unheard voices at the same time. So basically, we’re doing the most at the moment.”
Photograph of Andy and OBie by Neo Baepi.
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