Skelm Gets Ready To Go Global With His Latest Afro Tech Single – ‘Isizwe’
Words: Rhys Buckham
February 5, 2024
South African Afro Tech DJ Skelm has spent some time in the ‘stu’ with close friend and producer Casis to cook up their new single ‘Isizwe’, and let us tell you – you aren’t ready for it. Skelm’s signature heavy Afro sound and love for percussion fused with Casis’s unique sonic palette combining melodic tech and Afro rhythms, resulted in a cooking track that’s already been leaving a trail of ‘stank faces’ around South Africa. Isizwe is a track that seamlessly fuses the euphoria and emotional keys of melodic tech with aggressive Afro Tech drops. It’s the ultimate party track for December, or ‘Dezemba’ as it’s called in South Africa.

Skelm was first introduced to Afro Tech at a small street festival in Johannesburg, a sound that would forever change the trajectory of his career and lifelong passion for music. Born in the vibrant city of Johannesburg, South Africa, Skelm is a rising force in the scene, whose journey into music began at the tender age of 14, DJing at his school canteen. Skelm values a love for music above all else and it’s clearly paid off; from his first gig in 2022, his brand has grown quickly and since then he’s played at some of the most prominent festivals and clubs across South Africa. Now that his debut single ‘Isizwe’ is on the way, Skelm has his sights on the horizon, having just played his first international gig, he’s ready for more.  Casis has been producing heaters religiously for years and his production has already taken him to Ibiza with Beatport. Between these two South African producer/DJ’s there is no shortage of ambition, skill or vibes and they’re ready to take the rich sound of Afro Tech to the world.



Introduce yourself and your project

My name is Skelm, I’m an Afrotech DJ and Producer from South Africa. ‘Isizwe’ is a really special song for me, it’s my first release and I worked on it with Casis, a ridiculously talented artist and one of my closest mates. It’s a blend of Casis’s melodic style and my heavy afrotech style, and it just comes together in this beautiful stank-facy yet equally euphoric track. I’m extremely proud of what we created. 

Explain what musical genre fits you best

This could be a one word answer but I feel like that’s not allowed haha, it’s Afrotech. Afrotech is the only genre I play, it’s the only genre I produce and I just have a ridiculous amount of love for it and the culture and community around it. I’ve met my closest mates through Afrotech, made countless memories through it and I will forever stand behind it, push and play afro. 

Were you connected with music from a young age and did anyone inspire you? 

Since I was a kid music has been a massive part of my life. My parents were always listening to Rock and Rave classics from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s; and my grandparents introduced me to classical music and to musicals from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s and music every Sunday at Church. This cultivated a broad taste in and appreciation for music from a young age and as I grew up I listened to a lot of different genres. When I was about 10, I went through a stage of listening to Michael Jackson exclusively, I even had a white glove haha. 

As I grew older I got more involved in the EDM scene, Spinnin’ Records and Ministry of Sound were releasing all the heaters back then, I used to YouTube to MP3 everything. In 8th grade I started learning how to DJ on an iPad app. I used to DJ at the school canteen. My DJ name was DJ Full Monty, I know, awful. I dabbled a bit in production but ultimately life got a bit too busy. I put music on the back-burner, moved to the UK in 2016, and spent a year there and then moved back to SA in 2017. A few months later I heard some AfrikaBurn DJ’s playing Ngeke, the Andhim remix, at a small street festival in Johannesburg,  and that changed my life pretty much. I missed home so much when I was in the UK that I spent most of my time listening to Gqom, Kwaito, and Deep House; artists like Liquideep, Heavy K, Mandoza and Distruction Boyz, just to feel closer to SA. So this Afrotech sound that pretty much evolved from those genres blew my mind. I started listening to Black Coffee, Themba, Ryan Murgatroyd, & Lez, Enoo Napa, all the pioneers of afro. I got back into DJing and production and the idea of it becoming a career started to grow. It’s pretty much those guys that have influenced my DJing and production style and led me to where I am today. 

What kickstarted your music career?

I was a photographer and videographer and got into the festival and club scene. I was pretty much a closet DJ, nobody knew I played but eventually through the connections I made in the industry. I slowly started to mention that I was an artist too, got my first few gigs in early 2022 and the rest is history.  

Tell us more about your sound and how it’s evolved over time

The only time I’ve really had a sound was when I started playing and producing Afrotech, before then I used to make rubbish beats on my laptop and my phone and really had no direction. In terms of my Afrotech sound, I enjoy really driving Afro, sure I love softer sounds too but I listen to that in my car, I just love playing and making filthy tracks. I’m heavy on percussion and the midrange so I can play around with the mids knob (let me upset all the purists real quick), fat kicks and stabby baselines and synths. 

Any words you want to share to encourage other artists or producers?

Practically, branding, I can’t stress enough how important it is to be absolutely obsessed and intentional with growing your brand. A bit more abstract, be yourself. Being genuine can take you further than you can imagine. It’s a rare thing in this industry, there’s always agendas and motives, and it makes sense, everyone wants to grow and you need to grow too but do it with a genuine heart and you’ll go a long way. 

How do you nurture your industry relationships?

Again, just being myself. I have my people. I don’t put on a show or act one way for some people and another for others. I’ve been blessed to find a group of people that I support and that support me and those relationships have naturally developed. I’m respectful to promoters, I pull my weight and do my part, I understand what makes promoters want to book a DJ. And I’m respectful to other artists, their genre and their grind. 

Is there anyone you’d like to thank that’s been crucial to your journey?

This list could make up the entire interview but Daze Culture and Ray Squared for giving me my first gig way back when. Tristan Urwin and Son of Dennis, some of the most talented artists I know, friends that have become brothers, crazy party throwers, roommates and my place for honest advice. And of course Casis, we created ‘Isizwe’ together, my first release, and he’s just stupidly talented. He’s listened to countless absolutely horrible tracks of mine and has just been a great support, teacher and friend. 

Name 3 songs you love and what they mean to you 

Armonica – Ngeke Feat.Toshi (andhim Remix)

This is the song that led me to Afrotech and it will always hold a special place in my heart and USB’s.

Keinemusic(Rampa,Adam Port, &ME) – Muyè 

I just love this song, one of my favourite tracks to play and a musical masterpiece, it always makes me feel some type of way.

Themba – Who Is Themba

It was while listening to this song in the car with my lifelong best friend that I decided I wanted to start DJing again. We had the whole show planned out in our heads, the crowd, the lights, the smoke, everything. I’ve still never played this at a gig, I’m waiting for that show to be a reality. 

What’s your favourite piece of studio equipment or software?

Ableton and my KRK’s, I don’t need to say anything else.

Name your favourite club or festival and how it makes you feel

It’s got to be Rage Festival, the hype and energy around Rage is just crazy. So many artists from all over South Africa come together for a wild week of music and core memories. It’s the highlight of every year. 

Name an outlandish rider request?

My rider is pretty outlandish, it’s usually just a few Red Bulls and waters, promoters normally look at me like I’m crazy when that’s all I ask for, but the wildest rider request I’ve ever heard was when I was asked to go buy Chamomile tea for an artist. Who drinks tea at a festival? Do they even have kettles? 

Favourite clubbing memory and who or what did it involve?

December 2023, after a festival myself and a whole lot of mates ended up at the beach watching the sunrise, we went for breakfast afterwards, half of us falling asleep at the table but I’ve never laughed so much in my life. Just top tier, sleep deprived comedy and core memories.

What famous quote represents you best?

I wouldn’t say it’s famous, but ‘don’t be kak, be lekker’ is something I live by. It’s South African slang that basically means, ‘don’t be an asshole, be cool’. I even have it tattooed on my arm.

If you could play at any venue, where would it be and why?

Wow, this is a tough one. Obviously all the big ones are on the list but let me give you an interesting one, Savaya in Bali, for no other reason than the bar looks cool. 

Music is….. (explain more)

Music is emotion. It’s a feeling made physical. You can hear it, you can feel it, you can remember the sights and smells of where you heard it. Artists and DJ’s have their own story and emotions connected to the music and you can connect your own story and emotions to it. It’s beautiful. 

One song you really couldn’t live without and why?

It’s not a song, it’s an acapella, the ‘president house acapella’. I play it in every single set at some point and it’s kind of become a thing. When there is the rare set I don’t play it, people ask ‘where’s president house?’. That’s just a cool piece of Skelm lore. 

Namedrop your favourite 5 artists or DJs (past or present)

Black Coffee
Enoo Napa
Christopher Cross


What was your first music memory and how did it fuel your fire?

My dad singing to me when I was a kid, it made me feel safe and loved and made me aware of the importance and power of music. 

Tell us more about your plans for the future

In the immediate future I plan to release 5 songs this year, the first one of 2024 coming at the end of March. A lot of gigging this year, hopefully a few off the African continent and just sticking to my process of building my brand, creating dope content and vibey tracks and knocking goals off the list with each year. 

Any worldly advice you’d like to share?

Don’t be kak, be lekker.


Isizwe Is Out Now


Follow Skelm