It’s a sunny Sunday in Khayelitsha and despite the hangovers from the previous days festivities, including The All White Farm Experience and a headline slot at Kefu’s Cafe, the air at Cya C Deep’s house is light and excited. Troyder, real name Troyder Mafafo, is in the mother city for just a weekend and has another headline show at Kraaifontein’s Imbizo Lounge later that night.
With !Sooks new Viking EP providing background grooves we sat down for a chat about his story and his beginnings in music. Troy is a friendly guy and eager to discuss anything related to good tunes. You get the sense he’s always thinking, he wears a look of focus but one that is regularly interrupted by smiles and laughter.
He grew up in Limpopo and fondly remembers his first musical introductions, especially to deep house. “Growing up all we heard was deep house, it surrounded me from a young age” he says, recounting stories of sneaking out of the house in primary school to go to street bashes. It was at these events he first started to play with the idea of production. “Before I had even started learning how to produce I used to remix songs in my head, thinking about how I might change them”. This curiosity reached a fever pitch when a friend lent him a copy of Fruit Loops with a Still Dre demo on it, “Mind, Blown!” he laughs.
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Troyder’s love story for music is one that also seems tightly intertwined with technology. He has an acknowledged love for sound design and excitedly tells me about a secret project he’s working on that will be more electronica focused. His technology skills have also provided him with a useful income stream, IT and freelance web development, which he has done for several years now. We chop it up about programming languages for a bit, an unexpected turn in a conversation about house music.
After high school Troy moved to the Vaal to pursue tertiary education. “There wasn’t a lot to do there entertainment wise, we pretty much had to create our own”. In 2011 he moved to Pretoria and you get the sense those years of DIY entertainment helped set him up for his future endeavors. While working in Pretoria he was introduced to popular footballer Koketso Mmotong who had a club going in Mamelodi. A creative partnership developed between the two where Koketso provided the venue & equipment, Troy brought the DJs and the vibe.
The parties were called the Deep And The People and hosted big names at the time like Ralf Gum, Christos, Vinny Da Vinci and even well beloved French legend Rocco. The financial success of these parties allowed him to buy his own equipment which he rented to the club, “It allowed me to focus purely on the music, I didn’t really have to do the freelancing thing anymore”. Unfortunately tragedy struck when the club was robbed and all his equipment was stolen. “I had to start all over again” he says sadly, clearly still a painful memory.
He got back into full-time IT work and moved to Midrand. His love for music still burned hot though and he became involved with a local venue, Motswako Lounge, where he began promoting. Titled The House Rehab Sessions he started hosting events with underground DJs like Scotch Flavio and Soul Agenda, particularly those affiliated with Do It Now Recordings.
It was at these parties where he met and worked with what was to become a central mentor for him in years to come, 2lani The Warrior. I asked him what it was like to meet someone who inspired him so heavily musically, but it becomes quickly apparent the respect runs deeper than music. “It wasn’t just his ability to DJ and promote, it’s who he is that really inspired me. He’s always busy, always focused on the music. That focus and the way he carries himself influenced me heavily.”
Troy recounts the time he gave 2lani what would go on to become one of his biggest hits, the dance floor burner that is Dub Everywhere. “I gave him the music and was really nervous to hear his opinion. After dropping it off I went to a friends place for a couple drinks, to ease the anxiety. While I was there my phone died and I got home to find 2lani had been blowing my line up with missed calls! He loved Dub Everywhere and wanted to help me release the song.”
He notes Dub Everywhere as a turning point for him, remembering that he would arrive at parties and people he had looked up to for a long time had already heard the song and liked it. “This changed things for me, I knew I had to start taking music seriously.” The single went on to be remixed by popular underground producer Addex who was a big influence on Troy. “Hearing a producer you love remix music you made, now that’s a crazy feeling” he smiles.
The relationship with 2lani led to him releasing music on DeepStitched Recordings, most notably his Discordant Thoughts single that had accompanying remixes from Below Bangkok & Spring Reason as well as Portofino. He has also just released a superb remix for Nio March’s Synthetic Life release, a blend of dub focused sounds that is a hot commodity on underground dancefloors currently.
I ask him about how he manages to balance everything and he says that it’s difficult. “There are times I’ll sit down on a Saturday and be happy with a complete song in a day, then there are ideas which I need to constantly come back to and reinvent for weeks. I’ve decided to try take it slightly easier on the gigging for a few months, to allow myself to focus on my production and complete more of my ideas.”
We talk about what’s in store for him going forward and he mentions a collaborative project with fellow DeepStitched affiliate Keegs Bantom is in the works as well as a possible release on Surreal Sounds. It’s when talking about the secret project he’s working on that he seems most passionate though. “It’s going to be really personal. I’m taking my time, doing field recordings and really stretching my sound design skills to come up with something that feels intimate.”
2018 has seen his flag flying higher than ever, with high profile gigs like Deep Town Jozi, The Djoon Experience, The DeepStitched Showcase and more. These gigs coupled with several upcoming quality releases has us hopeful that his story in music, although already eventful, still has many chapters to be written. One thing that cannot be denied, is Troyder is clearer, sharper and more focused than ever.