Who we are
The turn of the millennium was a magical time for dance music in Mzansi. Kwaito had matured out of the gold dust of “international” and forged a unique identity; techno had moved back underground, but in a big way. And then you had the middle ground meeting point: house.
It’s often said that South Africa has the biggest house music market per capita on the planet, and it’s an adoration still on display every weekend, from ikasi to the club. A group of young, bright and diverse entrepreneurs decided to do something about this in 2001, including DJ Mbuso, Harael Salkow, Ricardo Da Costa and Sergio Bothelo.
Step one was for the DJs: in a pre-digital world, vinyl was sacred, so Soul Candi began importing records to a tiny basement store in Birnam. With the likes of the lauded Kid Fonque working the floor, they soon became a magnet for SA’s finest, and eventually graduated into a bigger space in Rosebank.
As it became clear that house music wasn’t going away any time soon, Soul Candi started making tunes available to everybody via their range of compilation CDs. Now the nation could own a copy of what the best DJs were playing on the airwaves and in the clubs.
They also branched out into A&R and management through their MESH (music and entertainment hub) initiative, handling the likes of (the-soon-to-be-massive) Mi Casa, Crazy White Boy, Muzart and spinners including Lulo Café and Cuebur.
But thanks in large part to the efforts of key figures like Soul Candi and youth stations like YFM and 5FM, house music was going mainstream in Mzansi, and the company wasn’t slowing down. They set up a DJ school, the Soul Candi Institute of Music (SCIM), to educate the next generation of aspiring selectors.
With the brand firmly established in the music and education space, it was live events to be tackled next. Ricardo Da Costa established the Soul Candi Live division which birthed one of the largest House Music events in Africa, Spring Fiesta.
As the online world began to intersect with house music’s ability to connect people, the brand began to reach far and wide across the Republic as well as the rest of the world. Their list of gold, platinum and multi-platinum releases, along with a slew of awards, is partly a product of this future-focussed outlook.
Over two decades in, Soul Candi continues to deliver on it’s mission of connecting people through house music – its rhythm intact, its optimism undiminished.