‘Gqom King’ DJ Lag on Invading the International Music Scene

22 Year Old DJ Lag has been bewitching international audiences with the gqom sound, recently cementing his status as the “Gqom King” when he was recruited to co-produce a song for Beyoncé on Lion King: The Gift album.

Compiled by: Thanduxolo ‘’Thandz’’ Buti

When the song ‘My Power’ featuring Beyoncé dropped – from the Lion King: The Gift album – the world went into a frenzy. 

It was official that Durban’’ gqom sound had finally cracked American mainstream music, all thanks to DJ Lag.

Dj Lag (Lwazi Gwala) is cited as the pioneer of gqom music.  Born in Durban, he is now an internationally acclaimed DJ and Producer whose music has infiltrated dancefloors in Europe, Asia, and now the United States.

You might be forgiven if you don’t know who Lag is, as he lets his music do all the talking, and in 2019 it’s been doing a lot of talking.

Despite being one of the producers on Beyoncé’s latest album, Lion King: The Gift album, he also released a new EP, Steam Rooms, and has been busy with his European tour.

Listen to “My Power” from the Lion King: The Gift Album:

Dj Lag chats to Blacklight about working with Beyoncé, his new EP, and his European tour.

Congratulations on being part of the much talked about Lion King: Gift Album. What does being part of a project of this magnitude mean to you?
DJ Lag: Thank you! It’s definitely a dream come true, and a highlight of my career. So many of these artists are respected and it’s an honour to be able to put my work next to them. I mean, what’s bigger than Beyoncé? I guess now my job is to keep working hard so that I can find out.

How did you get involved on the project?
DJL: It started when Beyoncé played “Trip to New York” (one of my original tracks) during her set at the Global Citizen festival in Johannesburg. Kwasi Fordjour from her team reached out to me and said he was looking for authentic African sounds for a project he was working on. At the time I didn’t know it was for “The Gift”. Later on I sent over some tracks, a then they invited me to LA to work at Parkwood Studios where Beyoncé records her stuff. That’s where we finished the track.  

When “My Power” dropped, many people took to social media to express their feelings about the track. What would say makes the track special for you?
DJL: I’m glad they used it to drive the message of black women in power. The track has all the ways that women are powerful in – in all their different styles. That way the track was not just about me, or made just for the sake of it. It’s about helping people move and feel good about the way they move. 

Listen to DJ Lag’s latest song Amanikiniki:


Many people know you as the Gqom King. How did you earn the title?
DJL: I think it’s because I was able to take the sound to the world early on when it was still very new. It was seen as just noise before, but I kept pushing because I believed it would be something more. 

What drew you to the sound?
DJL: When you know something is right for you, you can feel it. I guess the people around me at the time I was creating music could feel it too. That’s a special thing, being able to find something we all can appreciate and move to, together.

With the ever-changing music landscape, how would you describe your sound as a DJ and producer?
DJL: I think my sound is still growing… but I also think I’ve managed to create a sound that’s a bit different to what people expect through traveling, sharing music with the world and other producers and DJs when I’m on tour.

With your new EP “Steam Rooms” what is it that you are bringing across, musically?
DJL: Okzharp and I met through Chris Saunders (the director of my Drumming video with Moses Boyd.) I stay with him often in London, so we decided to work on this EP. I’ve had a lot of support from the UK and we are both represented by Black Major, so we decided to make an EP that would speak to folks from South Africa and the UK, places that have both shown love for Gqom.

Where does the title “steam rooms” originate from?
DJL: It’s what we call the local clubs here in Durban.

How would you describe the atmosphere you create through your live act, when you are on your international tour?
DJL: I try to get people to have as much fun as possible and bring the Gqom elements we get at home to every show. People at home dance when Gqom music plays… no one just listens, they dance and chant! So, I try and bring all that with the shows and show them how we party back home.

Lastly, what do you hope people who have experienced your music tell people who are still not aware of your existence?
DJL: I hope they say that it’s all just raw energy. I try to give everything to my music and shows, hoping to connect with people on that level.

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