SonarMix 013: Omagoqa - the underground sound of Durban


“We want people to experience something they might never have experienced before,” say South African gqom trio Omagoqa of their forthcoming set at Sónar by Day. The same phrase serves as an introduction to their SonarMix: you won’t recognise much of this tracklist.

Before amapiano took over the world, there was gqom, a bass-heavy and minimalist style of dance music that came straight out of Durban, South Africa’s third largest city. Those who remember Distruction Boyz and  DJ Lag - a close friend of Omagoqa -  at Sónar 2018 and Sónar 2019 might already be familiar with the genre, but this young trio are taking gqom to new places. They call their sound “ISQINSI”, “a rugged, percussive” style that blends gqom’s raw style with more familiar electronic music - witness the inclusion in SonarMix 013 of bootleg remixes of pop/electronic staples by the likes of Botswana’s Tefo Foxx and their Durban acolyte ZVRI

The result is something perhaps more accessible, but also undeniably deeper and more textured, that taps into gqom’s hypnotic potential. ‘Power of Music’, one of multiple collaborations with Durban house duo Dee Traits that appears on the mix, sums up the new direction, adding a trance-like sense of euphoria to gqom’s insistent pulse, as the mix shifts into a dreamy interlude that includes a roof-raising Calvin Harris remix. Of course, the trio can still go hard and heavy, as tracks like ‘GWY’ from their new Back To Ebombeni (Deluxe) EP show. It makes sense that at Sónar 2023 they want to catch both Peggy Gou’s big-room house and SHERELLE x Kode9’s ferocious aural assault as well as Wata Igarashi’s deep techno masterclass.   

At Sónar 2023, they’re looking to represent South Africa (“and specifically Durban”), but also have another simple goal: “We like to make people dance and that's what we are hoping to achieve”. SonarMix 013 shows they’ll definitely be able to tick both off their list.
Deep Narratives - Shapers
Alan Walker - On my way (Tefo Foxx Bootleg)
ZVRI - Just love (Remix)
ZVRI & Kususa - Danger Zone (feat. DJ Tira)
Spacepose - Ingola
Omagoqa & Dee Traits - Power of Music
Dee Traits - CPU
Omagoqa & Dee Traits - Unreleased
ZVRI - How Deep Is Your Love (Bootleg)
Omagoqa - J A T I 
Omagoqa - Gida (feat. Dee Traits)
Dee Traits - Ugesi (feat. Omagoqa & King Bhutie)
Omagoqa & Dee Traits - Unreleased
Omagoqa - Dance
Omagoqa - Ayii
Omagoqa - GWY
Omagoqa - Nsimbi ka KB
Omagoqa - Inkunzi (feat. Dee Traits)