Spotlight on: Fernando

September 29, 2017

Photo © Likhona Camane
Fernando is a Cape Town based producer who over the last year and a half has been making ambient and hip hop inspired beats. From his debut release, the 'Origin' EP to the slew of singles he has released since to this years' 'Tao' EP and 'db [ii]', his versatility as a producer is evident in the range of his releases. We chatted to him to find out how he got his start in production, his love for ambient and hip hop, his evolution as a producer, the mixtape he's been working on in studio and upcoming releases.

Did you have a musical background?
I won’t exactly, no, but I grew up in a musical family. My dad played a bit of guitar and my grandparents were more musically inclined than the rest of the family. My Pa was a choir master, he played a bit of guitar, a bit of bass. My Ma was, I wouldn’t say vocalist, but a good opera singer in her day. I’ve always thought that I was musically inclined, but I think I never pushed myself. I needed that push to just start creating my own stuff and that only came about a year and half ago.

What got you into production?
After high school I went straight into studying sound in 2015. I could only study for a year and a bit. I was forced to leave varsity. I went and did live sound for a bit but I opened a door in my first year, but mostly engineering, so post-production, sound design. That’s initially where I opened my first door. But putting my heart and soul into music came a couple of months later -  a friend of mine showed me Ableton because we never used it at varsity. After showing me Ableton I just started making my own beats. I started looping and finding loops and just adding drums and seeing where it goes until eventually I could see a track in front of me or hear something before I actually lay it out. And then I just started pushing. Since then I’ve been doing music for a long time. I still work part time, I do live sound. But I work on music every day. I have to.

Photo © Ashiq Johnson

Your sound covers a variety of influences and genres from hip hop to ambient. What draws you to this range of sounds?
I like film. If you’ve ever seen any cult classic, they usually have these sounds that were probably made on hardware, these ambient sounds, or wherever their engineers get their music from. But I’ve always been taken away by ambient sounds. As far as my drums go, my breaks, I’m heavily influenced by Dilla and Madlib. I specifically name the two of them because that’s the grassroots, so you’ve gotta familiarise yourself with the grassroots. Otherwise they won’t familiarise themselves with you. So you have a lot of newer generation guys listening to something and trying to dupe something. I was guilty of that a while back, but you can draw inspiration and steal from anywhere. But to your advantage. So whatever you like, you should add your own spin. The influence as such I think is just everyday life. Things I go through, things I hear. I have a lot of cool voice recordings on my phone that I just take when I’m in town or wherever. So it’s a vast range of sounds. I’m on Soundcloud everyday, so I find new digs all the time.

How would you describe your evolution as a producer over the last couple of years?
I’d describe it as continuous because at the moment, and it’s funny that I’m here now and you’re asking me this because at the moment I actually just shed a sound. I finally feel like I’ve progressed onto something that is my own but is also heavily influenced by my mind. I’m actually making what’s in my head. Rather than those templates of things you listen to and things you are overly influenced by that you actually want to make something that sounds like the new Carmack or the new whatever it is you’re into. So I’d say continuous but also quick. It’s been quick. But I’d say the cliche of hard work. It’s a cliche but it’s true. You can work hard and actually see results. You can work hard and just listen to people. When people give you advice, that’s what I do. And that has helped me a lot with motivation and with shoulders to cry on. I think that’s what it is. That’s how I found myself. ‘Cause I always find myself thinking “I don’t know what else I’d be doing today if I wasn’t in here”. It’s all I’m thinking about, music. So I’d say a continuous evolution.

Photo © Ashiq Johnson

What have you been working on in studio?
I managed to get four tracks, it’s gonna be four tracks. I’ve been working with some really special people. I’ve been working with Jay Em from PE, so you guys will be hearing some stuff from us. They’ve been doing well with Stay True Sounds. I’ve been fortunate enough to get some music licenced with them. That will be released at the end of the year. Skinniez, Harold. Before I started making music, Skinniez was one of the first people in Cape Town that I started listening to. He’s got his style that he’s made his own. From making really Soulectionesque beats, he’s just really amazing. He’s helped me a lot in terms of advice. And then Dada Shiva. I’ve been fortunate enough to produce for him. He’s an amazing emcee. So I got him in the studio to do an outro for me. And obviously some of my own work. The tape is a lot of my own work, but those are the guys that I’m working with on the tape. I’ve been influenced by each one of them heavily, so this is like a mashup of those influences. Especially over the last few months. They’re close influences but they’re also the homies. So I’m working with my homies on this tape.

Is there a concept behind the release?
I’ve been listening to a lot of latin music but I can also be really lo-fi and I can also be extremely electronic. I’m not analog. It’s just a lot of feel good. It’s feel good but also music that you can think about. But also me and you can hear how I’ve laced what I’ve been releasing in this tape. But it’s a completely new tape so people should expect something different, something new because that’s the energy I’m putting into it.

Future projects?
Likhona Camane is here now and we’ve conceptualised something called Wax Trade and it’s a vinyl only podcast. So we’re trying to push that more. He’s taken ownership of it mostly. It’s also sort of his brainchild but I’ve helped him with it. I’ve had to cut that off because I’ve been busy with music. I’ve got some releases apart from what might be happening at the end of the year. I’m on Dada’s tape, Red Bull… but a lot of things are happening behind the scenes so people can look forward to that. I’ve got a lot of releases at the end of the year. Things that I’m also happy to be a part of because a year ago I was thinking to myself should I be making music but ending up still going like yeah let me make music. So it’s just a blessing. I’ve been really blessed and fortunate in my life. The opportunity now is just here for me to take it and obviously without the support and help from friends and family it wouldn’t be possible.

Find Fernando online: