Apple Music and PLATOON recently invited six unsigned African artists to Mothership Studios in Philadelphia in the Western Cape for a week-long Creative Lab.
The objective of The Lab is to provide artists with an opportunity to hone their skills, taking their musical vision to the next level, while giving them access to a global audience and an insight into what the music industry entails.
At the Cape Town Creative Lab (CTCL), each performer recorded a new single which will be released to an international audience starting this month. These songs were produced in a world class recording facility and the artists were given access to the finest creative talent including photographers, video directors and stylists – to create all of the marketing assets they would need to support their release.
The CTCL featured daily mentoring sessions with some leading music industry figures. These included legendary producer Nile Rodgers; award-winning songwriter John Ryan (Maroon 5/One Direction/Charlie Puth), Apple Music Up Next artist Mr Eazi; Beats 1’s Kat Wong and Ebro Darden; Alec Boateng (head of A&R Atlantic Records UK); Alex Boateng (head of A&R Island Records UK); Aton Ben-Horin (global Vice President A&R – Warner Music Group); Taponeswa Mavunga (head of Publicity Columbia Records UK), Merck Mercuriadis (Hipgnosis Music) and Kwame Kwaten (Artist Manager and Vice Chairman Music Managers Forum).
The artists – three from South Africa and three from Zimbabwe – also took part in photoshoots, a performance video shoot, artist interviews, whiteboard sessions and media training.
The end result was a life changing experience. The artists all left the CTCL with a great new single, fantastic media packs and an increased understanding on how the music industry works.
The six artists are:
- Shungudzo is a hugely talented singer and songwriter from Zimbabwe. She has written for the likes of Little Mix, Chainsmokers and Jessie Ware and was featured on the latest 50 Shades soundtrack. Her debut single Long Live the Billionaire was featured as Zane Lowe’s World Record at the end of 2017. She was thrilled with the Lab experience and her fellow participants: “I’ve never met so many people who I inherently trust and want to see succeed, solely so the world can experience their beauty and honesty.”
- Bantu is a talented Zimbabwean producer, songwriter and artist. He has written and produced for some of the world’s biggest artists including Jason Derulo, Maroon 5, J Balvin, Camilla Cabello, Tove Styrke, Rita Ora, Lauv and Chris Brown. His single with Jonas Blue and Mr Eazi is due for release on Virgin Records in the coming months: “There’s nothing like being surrounded by talented like-minded people and the Lab week was truly a dream come true. I left with so much insight, inspiration and knowledge.”
- Dope Saint Jude is an exciting hip-hop artist from the Cape Flats. She is credited as “transforming South African hip-hop by challenging a genre which was predominantly male and heteronormative”. She has already been featured in Vogue, i-D, Noisey, Fader, Elle, Marie Clare and Okay Africa and will be performing at Afropunk later this year. “The CTCL has been transformative for me, not only as an artist, but as a human being. I have learnt things about my own creativity that have surprised me. It was also inspiring to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of artists.”
- Dr Chaii is Grammy nominated Zimbabwean record producer, songwriter and now artist. His producer credits include Jason Derulo, Sean Paul, Pitbull, Chris Brown, Trey Songz and Alex Aiono. “The Lab week has been mind-blowing. It was about making great music with great people and leaving with great friends.”
- Kaien Cruz is a 19-year-old Kwa-Zulu Natal based singer-songwriter who emerged from the Durban-based collective Wolfpack. She has featured as a guest vocalist on numerous local hit tracks with the likes of Nasty C, Tellaman, Sketchy Bongo, Aewon Wolf and Easy Freak. “I’ve learnt more this Lab week than I have in the past two years. I never expected to make connections and friends like this and I can’t wait for what’s to come.”
- Sipho the Gift is a talented young MC and producer from Kimberley in the Northern Cape. He was featured as Apple Music’s New Artist Spotlight in February this year and has appeared in Complex magazine and Pigeon & Plane’s list of upcoming rappers to watch from outside America. “It has been a great exposure to what it means to be a successful independent artist. I also feel that the connections and collaborations that have happened here will last a very long time.”
Apple Music will release one single a week from each of the six artists starting on Friday, August 31.
- Shungudzo Paper – Friday 31 August
- Sipho the Gift Hold Up – Friday 7 September
- Dope Saint Jude Girl Like – Friday 14 September
- Dr Chaii Bongo – Friday 21 September
- Kaien Cruz Dangerous – Friday 28 September
- Bantu Remedy – Friday 5 October
Formed by South African born entrepreneur and music industry veteranDenzyl Feigelson, London-based PLATOON recently launched PLATOON Africa in Cape Town as an artist services platform for independent African artists. Music Business Worldwide referred to PLATOON as “one of the world’s most thought-provoking new music companies”. The company has already enjoyed success with BRIT Award winner Jorja Smith, YEBBA, Nigerian superstars Mr Eazi & Maleek Berry, Billie Eilish and Stefflon Don.
Says Denzyl Feigelson, CEO of PLATOON Africa: “The CTCL is one in a series of labs held around the world to uncover, discover and showcase talent within a region. We started with a long list of performers and narrowed it down to six fantastic artists. We have worked hard on finding the right teams to work with each of them. The week is part of a journey, it doesn’t stop here. The Lab is just the beginning for these performers.”