The Mix 009: Rosey Gold - Music - Mixmag

The Mix 009: Rosey Gold

Rosey Gold first threw herself into DJing as a way to keep going through a challenging moment in life, now she's using music to tell stories, unite communities and uplift emerging artists

  • Words: Becky Buckle | Photos: Cebo Luthuli
  • 17 April 2024

Rosey Gold is a name ringing out loud and clear among amapiano sound waves. Pouring her soul into every set, Rosey is feeding her audiences with pounding bass and drumbeats that reflect her deep love for the genre.

Rosey is a South African who was born in exile in the neighbouring country of Zambia while South Africa was under apartheid. "My grandfather was Black and my grandmother was white so they legally couldn't live in South Africa. My grandfather went to jail for being with my granny because she was white. So we had to be in exile," she shares. Now based in London and having spent time growing up in Dublin, Rosey still calls South Africa home, making frequent trips back to her homeland throughout her life and becoming deeply involved in the music culture from Johannesburg to Cape Town and beyond.

Creating soundscapes inspired by the musical lineage of South Africa, Rosey has been travelling far and wide as somewhat of an ampiano disciple since she began DJing four years ago, though she's keen to keep evolving. Now, as a Piano People regular, with a Rinse FM residency in one hand and an upcoming Australian tour in the other, Rosey is not slowing down any time soon.

It’s almost been a year since she released her first-ever productions with her ‘Deep Rooted’ EP on Larah Records. Tracks such as ‘Toxic Drums’ and ‘Sunday Roast’ featuring Sbuda Maleather and Ice Beats Slide are still sweeping the clubs and inspiring crowds of screaming fans. This momentum looks set to continue as she promises new music is on its way. Since the EP, Rosey has also created the community of the same name, Deep Rooted. Following a core message of supporting creative expression through music and arts to explore personal roots, the platform launched with a huge party in Cape Town soundtracked by Rosey, as well as Charisse C and The Don Jon, in January. "Come as you are, bring what you have and let's live out our moments, sharing life’s experiences," Rosey shares. "It’s shining a bright light on our communities and the substance that makes us everything that we are."

Rosey Gold's instalment of The Mix is a beacon of her commitment to promoting the sounds emerging from South Africa, a nation she broadly refers to as her 'hometown'. "There are these kids in my hometown that produce from their shacks. I give them my Whatsapp and I’m like "Give me whatever music you have because I want to hear it, I want to play it and I want to promote it for you'," she explains. "That's what you'll hear from me. You'll hear sounds that you've never heard before and you'll hear music from 16-year-old kids who are producing it from their mum’s house."

"I always try and do whatever I can to push these kids because amapiano is for the kids and house music is for the kids. It was born and bred in the township and in the hood. So, I always like to go back and try and find these kids and make sure that I can at least give them some airtime and put them on whatever small platform that I can provide for now."

Rosey Gold spoke with Mixmag about the wild story of an out-of-the-blue show with Black Coffee, how DJing gave her a new lease of life after a tough time mentally, and shares her opinion on the ongoing discussion between Nigerian and South African amapiano. Check out The Mix and interview below.

For someone who has never witnessed a Rosey Gold set, how would you describe it?

I would describe my sets as soulful and hard-hitting. I do like a lot of bass in my music and I really do pay a lot of attention to my sets. I don't just play randomly, I study where I'm playing and the audience I'm playing for and I curate special playlists for my sets. I would say my sets tell a story as I like to take people on a journey. Generally, my sets start pretty low and they gradually increase. So, soulful, bass-heavy and storytelling.

Can you describe the energy you feel when you’re behind the decks?

I feel out-of-body. I don't even know how to explain it. It's almost mesmerising, to be honest. I'm mesmerised by the crowd, by the energy that they give me. The energy intensifies after every performance which is pretty crazy. For example, I play in London quite often but I've limited the events that I accept in London just because it's more of a better experience. I played Hackney Social on Saturday [February 17] and I get really nervous when I play in London because there is a lot of pressure about who's going to come, and if I'm the headliner then it's just a lot of pressure. But it was packed, a lot of people came to see me, and that still doesn't click in my head because I'm like, 'you actually took time out of your life to come here and listen to me?'. I'm just like this can't be real life. It's so beautiful and so lovely to even see familiar faces who just keep coming and showing me love and supporting me. I can't explain the energy and the feeling. It's just an out-of-body experience.

You had a surprise gig alongside Black Coffee, right? How did this feel and how did this opportunity come about?

I feel like people don't really know the full story. Black Coffee didn't even know that I was playing. He didn't even know who I was. But that was amazing. Basically, there's this place called Greenhouse in South Africa and one of my friends actually knows the owner of the bar. He spoke to the owner and was like: "You need to put her on." And he was like: "Um, okay. Well Black Coffee is playing tomorrow, would she like to open for him?" And I was like: "Haha, funny." But he was like: "I'm serious." I was like: "So tomorrow? As in, in a couple of hours?" And he was like: "Yes." So yeah, that's literally how it happened. I was not booked months in advance. It was literally like the next day I had to play. So that was it. I was super excited but also super nervous because the owner literally said: "Do not embarrass me". So yeah, no pressure.

I got there super early because I was so nervous. I needed to figure out the crowd, get comfortable in the place and feel the vibe. Then it was my turn. I played really, really well. It was probably one of my best sets when I think about it. I was still really nervous. If you look at the video you can see my hands actually shaking on the decks. What was so beautiful was that I didn’t realise Coffee was standing behind me. He was preparing himself to get on the decks. In the videos, I saw that he was just vibing and feeling the music. And then, it was his turn to play, but then he stopped the music and started applauding me. I actually still can't believe that happened. That was amazing. It was a beautiful, beautiful experience. I was just so blessed. It's almost being at the right place at the right time. A lot of situations that I've been in are just from being in the right place and having a good network of people that believe in you and that'll support you even if it's on the spot. I feel so lucky and blessed to have played alongside Black Coffee. Since then, doors opened.

Read this next: Black Coffee: "I'm carrying so many young hearts with me who are dreaming of doing what I do"

Did you chat with him at all? Did he give any words of wisdom?

He did. He was just like: "Well done. Your set was great. I was really impressed." And I just told him that I'm a fan. The thing is right, at home, it's different because he's from South Africa. That December I saw him play four times. The busiest time in South Africa is December and if you haven't gone before you have to go then as it's such an incredible experience. Obviously, we have a lot of talented artists so everyone is there at the same time. So watching Black Coffee play in December or even bumping into him as an artist isn't a rare thing. I bumped into him I think three times that December. I bumped into him at a party and he recognised me and he was like "Hey" and I was like, "Oh my God! You recognise me!" He's super humble and super chill but also gets you super relaxed because you start speaking on a human level. Like I'm human, you're a human. He's a cool guy. I think if it's your time and you've put all the work in and believe it, then it will happen.

What was one of your stand-out shows and why? I think that could have been one of them but I'm sure that you have plenty more.

There have been a few. For me, there are obviously a lot of amapiano events that happen so the crowd know the music and understands it. They are the ones that give you all the energy because they love the music just as much as you so they give that back. But as much as I love playing for an amapiano crowd, I actually enjoy playing for new ears a lot more, just because I feel like for me that's more enjoyable because I’m, like, teaching people a new sound. I would say that my favourite highlight for me was playing in Finland. This was like two weeks ago in Helsinki. The majority of the crowd were native Finnish people. The promoter actually told me that this was actually very strange because the majority of our customers are somewhat African. Actually, 80% were European and locals and 20% were African. I'm very spiritual so it was like, gosh, God you really hear me because I asked for that. I said to God, I want to play more to people who have never heard the sound so that I can teach them the sound. So yeah, that's probably one of my favourite events. I also love Amsterdam. Every time I play in Amsterdam the energy is insane.

Read this next: Recommendations: Katerína has us over in Helsinki

How did the Helsinki show go down with the crowd?

I noticed that if the crowd is not familiar with the sound then they will just watch you and literally just try and understand what’s going on. I get a lot of that because I play in Europe a lot and people don't know the music, so they will just watch you, which is something I had to get used to over time. I realised that when they're watching you they're actually taking it in. The feedback usually comes afterwards on social media. I got a lot of posts, so many I couldn't repost them all. That showed me that people were really engaged and feeling it. Even though they might not have been screaming and shouting they are very eager to learn and listen and take it in.

It has been a year since you released your debut EP 'Deep Rooted', how has the response been?

So yeah, last year I dropped my first piece of music. I was always nervous to play my own music because nobody knew it was yours when I was at the start of releasing it. Especially as I've never released any music before this. So they are going to give you their honest opinion, and if they don't like it, you'll know. But everything was done independently for my EP, the label was independent and I had no money for marketing. So, when you see the numbers everything is authentic. It wasn't drilled in people's faces like "buy my new song" and it wasn't a TikTok sensation. I'm really grateful for the love and support I've been shown through the music even though I don't have that big budget, I'm not with a big label. But the numbers have grown. I get really shy so when people are actually screaming when the song comes on, sometimes it's a bit much, I'm like "Woah". Like how do you know this song? It's amazing, it's such a lovely feeling it's just overwhelming love.

How did you get into producing?

I've always wanted to produce ever since I started playing, but it was a thing where I was too scared to bring out music. As a woman, just have that imposter syndrome by not knowing how people are going to take it. However, I started producing in the early stages of my DJing. My manager is a sound engineer by profession and he mixes and masters all my music. But when I met him, I told him I had some music and he was the one who encouraged me saying "Okay we need you to release this." Then he introduced me to Jay Music and Tremic Dah Rockstar. The three of us made my song 'Toxic Drumz' and then 'Kanye West'. I just needed the confidence to say ‘I can do this.’

Can you talk about your upcoming releases?

On my first EP, I had a track called 'Bass Addicts' and I worked with Audio Addicts who are very, very talented producers. I love their sound because it's similar to mine, so it's an influence [mix] of gqom and amapiano and tech. That's what I love. That's my genre. I love infusing those three genres together. I heard their music and I was like woah. So I hit him up and then he sent me a piece of work, and there was a back and forth but we made it. We're working together again and we have made something amazing. I don't even have a name for it. But we'll figure something out. I've also made a mixtape. My manager actually also manages Jay Music and Tremic so he had this idea of making a mixtape with the three of us. I think there are seven to eight tracks. We're dropping that soon, and then I'm dropping my own personal body of work after that.

Wow, you've spent a lot of time in the studio this year?

My main goal when I went home was to be in the studio. I've been working with a lot of producers to make that music catalogue. I've wanted to drop for quite a while now but just life happens. But I'm really excited.

What was the moment when you first discovered a passion to DJ?

To be honest for me, I'm not going to sit here and say I've been wanting to DJ since I was five-years-old because that's a lie. I actually really started DJing four years ago. I had wanted to start playing a couple of years before that but in all honesty, the guy that was teaching me was really sleazy and made me feel really uncomfortable so I stopped the whole journey just because of that. But then, years passed and amapiano started making its move. I actually had gone through a really bad break-up. I was engaged and my ex didn't want me out there - my Instagram was private and my life was all very private. But that's why I hadn't DJed. We broke up and the only thing that really got me out of bed - because I was in a really bad mental state - was music and amapiano. I decided to buy some decks and created my own little studio in my home and just started creating music for myself. I just started playing music for myself and it was very therapeutic for me. The only thing that physically got me out of bed was music. I'd like to say it saved my life. I was not okay but the only thing that kept me going was jumping on the decks. I would play music for hours and hours and hours. That's when I thought to myself that I'd love to do this permanently. I didn't know how, where or when, but I also saw that people were playing the sound but nobody was really from South Africa. Nobody was really playing it with the right mindset and that kind of background. I was like, maybe I try. I'm obviously very much influenced by the people that have kind of led the way here. There are a lot of artists who aren't from South Africa who appreciate the sound and play it authentically. They do their research, promote it and play it. I've seen a lot of that and I think it's interesting just to see how different nationalities are growing the sound with you.

Read this next: Spiritual storytelling: Charisse C's fluid amapiano sets are building a bridge between continents

Some say there is not a huge range of well-known female amapiano artists. Would you agree?

I would say that at home in South Africa, it's more male-dominated than it is in Europe. The bigger artists like DBN Gogo and Uncle Waffles are dominating and they keep getting the bookings - the bigger bookings. Whereas the smaller DJs are still working. Hopefully, that changes this year. My goal last year was to play on more stages, which is what's happening now. I'm doing Boiler Room and I've got some gigs in Europe that I've played and then we've got Australia coming up - hopefully, if my visa is approved. I feel like we’re getting there with the female artists. Some males are starting to complain - especially the males here - because they’re not getting as much work as the females. I think gradually it's changing. It's going to take some time, but it is changing.

Do you have any smaller amapiano artists you’d like to shout out?

Mixolis is one I will always shout out just because I feel like he was the pioneer when it came to the scene at the beginning. When it first started, he paved the way and I don't think he gets enough respect and appreciation. He actually taught me how to play. So yeah, shout out to him. Nicky Summers as well. She's doing her thing. She's also a London-based Caribbean who's pushing the sound. She doesn't have to, but she does because she loves it. It's always nice to appreciate people who are just doing it because of the love. Who else can I shout out? There's a DJ called Sofi MLow. She is Spanish and lives in London. She's doing her thing as well. She came to Tanzania with me actually. When I was in South Africa, I had a kind of a little tour in Tanzania and they asked me if I could recommend anyone and I recommended her. So that was lovely.

Read this next: The beautiful chaos of Amapiano, South Africa's emerging house movement

What's one thing that you want the readers of Mixmag to know about you or take away from this whole interview?

I will never be stationary. I will always keep evolving with the sound and I'm not bound by a specific genre or a specific BPM or a specific sound. As much as I love and adore amapiano, I'm not just amapiano, there's more. You know, there's more to me. I will just keep evolving with the sound and with my sound.

What can you tell us about your instalment of The Mix?

My mix is a fusion of sounds deeply rooted in my cultural heritage. It weaves together elements of amapiano, 3-step, and gqom, creating a dynamic blend of rhythms and melodies. Through my music, I aim to transport listeners to the heart of my hometown, South Africa. Imagine yourself lounging poolside, with a refreshing beverage in one hand and a boerewors roll in the other, while the aroma of a braai fills the air and your uncle tends to the grill. This mix seamlessly blends contemporary beats with timeless traditions, capturing the essence of modern South African music while honouring its classical roots.

Do you have anything else you'd like to add?

I think what I would like to mention, which is very random because nobody really asks this question, but there seems to be a debate between Afrobeats and amapiano and Nigerians. They seem to have this mindset that they have made amapiano better or made the sound more mainstream. I love Afrobeats - it's amazing. It's one of my favourite genres. I listen to it all the time. But Afrobeat and amapiano are very different. Nigerians have their own sound, which I call Afropiano. But if if you study amapiano, it actually stems from house music, which Afrobeats has nothing to do with. House music in South Africa is huge, huge, huge! So, the difference between Nigerian amapiano and South African amapiano is that our amapiano stems from house music and theirs stems from Afrobeats.

Get tickets to Rosey Gold’s headline London show at Night Tales on May 26 here

Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Multimedia Editor, follow her on Twitter

1. Rosey Gold, Jay Music, Tremic Dah Rockstar - Sprinter Remix
2. Inter B and Draad featuring Jay Music - 55 Methods
3. Jay Music, Tremic Dah Rockstar, Rosey Gold - Down
4. Jay Music, Rosey Gold - Calm Down remix
5. TeraphoniQue, DNZL444, Rosey Gold, Thama Tee - Mozankwari
6. PS DJ’s, 2wo Bunnies - Umthwalo wam
7. Jay Music - Central (Impoko edit)
8. Jay Music ft. Rosey Gold - Kanye West
9. DjChoice, Dv que, and Theology HD - Affection
10. Charisse C, Dj Kwamzy - Morning Sun
11. Dallas Thukzin ft Kabza De Small - Magical Ideas
12. Darque, JNR SA, Must Keys - Areyeng
13. SUPTA, Sizwe Alakine - Phakamisa
14. Darktonic - One More Time (3-step remix)
15. Bun Xapa - Berlin
16. Mr Thela - Wetsalang Remake
17. ZVRI, Culoe De Song, Insimbisi - Deep Narrative
18. Gadisani izingane Ogogo - Goldman

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