The Highsnobiety Soundsystem Curator Series invites metropolitan DJs, curators and musicians to guide us through the unmissable sights, sounds, stores, and food spots of their city – each time with an exclusively curated playlist. Subscribe to Highsnobiety Music on Spotify and Apple Music now, and catch Citizen Boy on October 12th at Burg Schnabel, Berlin, with Mike Q and Rosa Pistola. Presented by 3'Hi with Highsnobiety Soundsystem.
Durban, South Africa's third largest city, is known for its golden sand beaches and bustling port. However, in recent times the city has been gaining recognition from the global dance community for its thumping, idiosyncratic brand of 'apocalyptic bass music.' At least, that is how independent label and local pioneers Gqom Oh! describe the sound of their close-knit underground community. Sure, it can be dark and imposing, but primarily Gqom is a growing form of beat-driven electronic music that is infectious, powerfully African, and intensely enjoyable.
Sboniso Brandon Luthuli, better known as Citizen Boy, is a Durban native and one of Gqom Oh!'s first signees. His music, inspired by underground movements across the continent, combines pounding drum patterns of African dance music with the familiar industrial tones of Detroit techno and is taking the sound of his hometown global. We spoke to Citizen Boy ahead of his upcoming show in Berlin, and invited him to curate a Highsnobiety Soundsystem playlist showcasing 10-tracks that remind of home.
Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
I’m Sboniso Brandon Luthuli - a lot of people know me as Citizen Boy. I’m from a place called Avoca Hills, a suburb of Durban, South Africa. I’m a Producer, DJ & Sound Engineer. I started Producing at 13 years old and DJing two years ago.
What makes Durban different to any other place on Earth?
What makes Durban different to any other place is that it’s the home of Gqom; it didn’t start in any other place on Earth but Durban. As a kid growing up in Durban you’re exposed to 'The Sound of Durban' a lot, by taking public transport such as the bus or taxis - because they all have their own sound systems and subwoofers. When I heard Gqom, I was in a bus going to school and was amazed by the sound. I was literally like “what is this?” It used to drive school kids crazy, including me, and it influenced me to start producing Gqom myself.
What restaurant do you go to when you're tying to impress?
I love to go to Butcher Block, a restaurant at a place called Umhlanga. It’s a peaceful, neat area and everything is light. I love meat even though I’m trying to stop eating it, because of the way animals are being killed just so they can feed people. I know it’s too much but I love the meat at Butcher Block, I think they have the most tender and fresh meat. It's too good.
What's the best option for local comfort food?
There’s this fast food place that I love to go to called Nkomo’s Fried Chicken in the townships of KwaMashu. They make really good local food.
What spot in Durban do you never get tired of visiting?
I love nature, so the spot I never get tired of visiting is the park in Berea. It’s the best place for me to relax, have peace of mind and just think or do whatever that I have to do in that time. Being surrounded by trees and birds gives me a clear mind, peace and love.
What's your go-to store for picking up some new clothes?
I usually go to basic stores like Mr Price or H&M, but when my pocket is deep I go to Diesel. I’m a Diesel fanatic I love their quality and designs, especially on their glasses.
What's your most coveted grail (clothing / possession)?
My studio gear is what I covet the most. I love producing and I’d love to own a professional recording studio with a proper DJ booth. I want to record for other people, mix and master their tracks, and teach them how to DJ.
Check out Citizen Boy's 'Sounds Like Durban' playlist below, and get tickets to his upcoming show in Berlin, here.
Nakedboys - "Divorce"
This song reminds me of the time I started producing, I used to hear this song everyday on the bus.
Sbucardo Da DJ - "Ugwinyeleni"
Reminds me of this club/pub & restaurant called Spank, this song played every night and people used to go wild about it, Sbucardo came with some crazy tom-rolls.
Menchess - "Mitsubishi Song"
This song reminds me of the time when Gqom was starting to get a lot of attention/recognized. Every taxi, every bus, every club, every party you’d hear this song, a day wouldn’t pass without hearing this song in the streets.
Griffit - "Gqom 5"
It reminds me of the time when Explosion Parties started, on the last day of school people used to gather taxis that had the best sound and go to a place called Reunion Park in Isipingo, they spend the whole night there partying with Taxi Sound Systems.
Mafia Boyz - "Bhengi Yokhalipha"
This song means the most to me because it reminds me of when I started producing with my friend Noveliity, we made this song outside/outdoors with only one small speaker, they chased us out of the house because we were making noise.
Distruction Boyz - "Uzophuza Amanzi"
This reminds me when the Durban Music scene changed, people started to use vocal loops on their Sgubhu songs, that’s when Gqom and Sgubhu started getting attention from big South African artists like Mampintsa, DJ Tira & others.
Mafia Boyz - "Toyizi Ley’ngane"
This song reminds me of my hometown, Avoca Hills. On the day we made this song we made six songs in less than five hours, we were really going crazy, I was with Blvck, Noveliity and Iago Soul we were so creative, we produced some tracks less than 30 minutes, the studio session was really nice.
ANT the Artist, Simore & Detroye - "Mamacita"
This song also means the most to me, it was my first time producing something that’s not Gqom. I called my friends to do something on it and it was their first time on the mic and I saw that they have a lot of potential so I started a record label to promote local artists and give them a place to start their careers, just to help and guide people with potential
Citizen Boy - "Tribute to UK"
This song reminds me of the growth of my journey, when I started producing I didn’t have a lot of equipment, I only had a computer and radio speakers, my computer was really slow it had a lot of glitches, comparing my life back then to now makes me happy that I grown.
Migos - "Kelly Price"
This song especially Quavo’s lyrics reminds me of the promise we made with my friends, we played this song when we made the promise. We said a Bentley truck will be our choice of ride, they’ll call us Sensei’s, they’ll respect us through all the hard work and struggles. And we’ll be successful. This song means the most to me.