Cape Town Lately’s Gareth Duncan chats to Cape Town musician and producer Ameen Harron about his career and future projects.
Tell us about your background.
Cape Town born and raised between the northern and southern suburbs, which allowed me to experience multiple cultures, giving me a pretty extensive music pallet – from R&B to electro and even death metal rock. Growing up in the hip hop community as a BBoy, exploring DJing and rapping, looking up to legends like Mr Devious and Ready D, while skateboarding on the weekend at Boogaloos while wiling out to Fokofpoliesiekar live! Being an unemployed high school kid without the financial support for turntables, I was always looking for DJ software. I eventually stumbled onto some production software and after many twisted roads, here I am!
What inspired you to go into music?
As a kid with a stay-at-home mom, she played so much music during the days on TV and mostly the radio, and I was always fascinated with experiencing this sound through the speakers. I always told my mom as a kid I wanted to “make music like the radio makes music”. There was no sudden turn to this career choice. I knew my whole life… where I was going and where I wanted to end up. I was terrible when I started, but I was determined to change that. My strength and weakness is that I don’t really know when to quit.
What are your roles in the industry?
I’m a music producer, songwriter, artist and record label owner.
What challenges did you face initially and how did you overcome these challenges?
I went straight into music after high school. I studied sound engineering and continued to push my beats to artists. This was always going to be a full time thing for me.
What do you identify as your breakthrough moment?
I honestly don’t know how to answer that because I feel like I have many of those. I try and maintain an attitude of being a student. Everyday is progressive.
What are the highlights/proud moments of your career?
More recently, I received an International Portuguese Music Award for Best Pop Song on a track I produced for Sabrina Alves. I also won a Golden Loerie Award for best sound design and original music.
One of my personal favourite songs is Higher featuring Lakota Silva – what inspired this hit?
It was between my love for Drum and Bass, and some personal realisations that I was exploring at the time. I had the idea for the track and Lakota wanted to do the hook… it was still very much me finding out who I am musically, exploring styles and possibilities.
You’ve launched your own label, The Cartel. Tell us more about this movement.
The Cartel is a record label built on a collective of creatives. I find myself always attracting Cape Town creatives into my life with amazing abilities, who don’t get the recognition they deserve. So we had this idea to build up Cape Town-based artists who we believe in – through the collaboration of our efforts and individual skills.
Who do you hope to collaborate with in the near future?
I’ve had the chance to engineer a track he featured on but I’d love to work with Wiz Kid. I’d also like to work with L.A.X..
Which Cape Town artists really excite you right now?
Diatone. These kids have serious potential!
What are the struggles of music in Cape Town? And what are the exciting parts?
Music in Cape Town has a few problems… pride, business acumen, all round professionalism and camaraderie.
The exciting parts are that there happens to be so much to explore creatively, being a city rich in culture and arts.
Any advice to young people interested in entering the music industry?
Level headedness, professionalism, respect, patience, never being complacent and an understanding of business goes a very long way.
What are your future goals? In the short and long term.
We aspire to build marketable brands for our artists and the creatives involved in our label, which will only open more doors and more platforms for them to showcase what we know they’re capable of.
So my hopes for this next year is to get this machine running to a point of complete sustainability, not just for us or them but for Cape Town and South African music as a whole.
Cape Town will be recognised as a focused force when people think South African music.
Photos: GQ/Lisa G Photography