10 May 2024 ///

adidas Originals presents Sonic Sessions with a forefather of Gqom, Que DJ

Originality is a state of mind and a way of being. In this series –  brought to you by adidas Originals – Sonic Sessions merges together sound and style, as we showcase the cultural forces currently articulating South Africa’s sonic mastery. Whether it’s cooking up new genres or suffusing artistic practices through a uniquely South African lens, Sonic Sessions brings you straight into the heart of artists and their current playlists. 

Self-taught sonic originator, Que DJ, is a leading force in Gqom as a producer, DJ and performer. Both in his solo capacity and as one half of the multi-award winning Gqom duo Distruction Boyz, Que is recognised as a forefather of the genre – that gritty, beautiful electronic sound originating out of Durban. Heralded as one of the incubators of evolving Gqom for the world stage, Que is a master of his craft and purveyor of subsonic waves – with few artists standing so effortless between the borders of the underground and mainstream, simultaneously.   

The story of Gqom and the city of Durban is inextricably intertwined; the genre was born out of the city, and the genre has in turn birthed a new era for Durbs. In asking Que how the influence of Durban gave rise to Gqom, Que notes that “I think the genre is really shaped by the city itself. From the townships and settlements where people live – there weren’t a lot of resources to go around, so when the sound emerged, it reflected that. It was a very basic sound to begin with – with kicks and adds – and it showed the act of making something, out of nothing. Growing up, we didn’t have funds to produce in the way we wanted, so we used what we had – bootleg softwares, anything we could get our hands on.”

Image courtesy of Que DJ
Image courtesy of Que DJ
The futuristic and minimalistic nature of Gqom has entranced the world; on the genre’s adaptability, Que shares that its hypnotic ability is what makes the genre so endlessly fascinating and malleable, “Gqom is very hypnotic. It contains very hard hitting sounds, it’s very progressive too. It pushes people to their boundaries and it has created all those unique dance moves that have originated out of that sound. When you listen to the sound, you get into a trance. I always say, when I play music it’s like I’m going to church. I get into this sonic-wave and I get taken on a journey. It’s been an incredible base sound to evolve even further out of its original state – it mixes really well with other genres like tech, dubstep because it’s so progressive.”

On how Que stays true to the genre’s sonic roots while pushing it into the future, Que notes that respect and collaboration with those that came before remains critical, saying that “I think when we were coming up, we were looking at the people doing amazing things in our city. Gqom was purely an underground sound at that time – so when we came in and started getting deeply involved with the craft, we cleaned up the sound. That meant we could get the genre played on radio, on TV with music videos. I think the intergenerational collaboration with those before us, like making music for Big Nuz and so on, meant that we were able to evolve the sound together.”

Que’s personal style reflects his curiosity for all around him that inspires and motivates him, explaining that “I think my personal style comes from within – but it’s heavily influenced by the people around me. I spend a lot of time with my family, with my mentors and they’ve really encouraged me to express myself. Music and style are interchangeable, the two always influence each other.” As for the trusted ally of adidas in his performance ability, Que credits his current Spezial obsession as the missing link for comfort and steez – “My current favourite is the Spezial. They’re so comfortable – they’re the most amazing shoes I’ve ever worn. The Spezial is so easily styled, and I was able to be a colourful person without colour-blocking – it’s subtle, it’s quiet, the fabrics are amazing and the sole is engineered so perfectly that when I walk into a room, I don’t even make a sound.”

For Que, his craft is a high-demand path – requiring late nights, never-ending sessions and a perfectionism that is fervent. So, being a sonic mastermind might be effortless for him, but the effort and lengths are immense. Que DJ? A true original. 

Listen to Que DJ’s exclusive Sonic Sessions playlist, ‘SUBSONIC CHRONICLES’  here

Written by: Holly Beaton
For more news, visit the Connect Everything Collective homepage www.ceconline.co.za

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