The International Award-winning TV Series filmed on the Cape Flats, Spinners, started streaming on Showmax as from 8 November 2023 with a weekly releases of an instalment of one of its eight episodes.
For any good TV series or film, having the right music play at exactly the right time makes a huge difference in how the viewer experiences the story.
We have of course been fortunate to watch the whole series before release and can emphatically say: The Music on Spinners is On Point!
Aside from the fact that he is not only famous as a celebrated a DJ, a Hip Hop artist as part of the iconic and pioneering group Prophets of Da City (POC), as well as a radio personality, Deon Daniels aka DJ Ready D is also a bona fide petrol-head and an avid drift car racer.
We had a lekke conversation with the man behind curating and for some scenes even creating the music on the TV series that tells the story of Ethan, a young man trying to escape the lifestyle of being in a gang. He of course does that through Spinning, the Extreme Motorsport that has for years been steadily growing in popularity, not only in Cape Town, but across the country.
Not His First Rodeo
Being the Music Director for Spinners is not so much a case of DJ Ready D doing something new, but it is in fact an evolution and a major step up from what he has already been doing for quite some time in the television and film industry.
His first fully-fledged foray into being the Music Director for a TV show was Mzanzi Ridez on which he also featured as one of the presenters but also had regular DJ slots. Mzanzi Ridez had four seasons aired on Channel O from 2007 until 2010 and as the name implies was about South African Car Culture from ‘pimping your ride’ to drift car racing.
DJ Ready D then in various capacities went on to be involved in more film and TVindustry projects and also had some of his own music productions featured in TV and film projects.
“The first time my own original music was featured in a film was totally by accident. A demo song I made was somehow leaked, but not maliciously, just like as when you give to friends to have a listen.
Nothing serious; it was just a fun song to make, and then two years later someone who heard contacted me and wanted it include it on a movie soundtrack. That was about a decade ago for the movie Zulu with our very own Christian Bennet alongside Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker.
The Grandmaster carved a new notch when the Western Cape Provincial Government commissioned him to be the Music Director for the TV series Western Cape Highway Patrol which first aired in December 2022. The reality show follows highway patrol traffic officers performing their duties on the Western Cape’s main routes and sections of national roads that run through the province.
Aside from it being another inroad into film and television, this project holds a special significance for Ready D since he and his wife Malikah, both participants in motorsports, are also extensively involved in road safety campaigns by G-CAP SR4A – Safer Roads for All.
Deep into Car Culture
Accepting the offer to be the Music Director on Spinners was a no-brainer for DJ Ready D.
“When I was first approached by the French team and they broke down the story, the first thing they said was, Cars. I was like, Okay, I’m in.”
Having grown up in Mitchell’s Plain, the plot of Spinners was a familiar story to Deon Daniels.
As a Hip Hop Head, it was after all, and still is for many today, a matter of being involved in Hip Hop Culture as an alternative to becoming a gangster.
It was also on the Cape Flats that many aspects of the sport of Spinning had its roots.
DJ Ready D has not only made a name for himself in music but is deeply rooted in Cape Town and South African Car Culture.
Growing up I used to go to places like Strandfontein Pavilion, and another place out in Athlone [Indiana].
In Cape Town, we used to call it ‘Pop-a-wheelie’ and it use to draw crowds of thousands. People from all over the Cape Flats would came together to buy Gatsby’s, and watch all these cars spinning and popping wheelies.
DJ Ready D also in later years became fascinated with the sport of Drifting which is now an officially recognised motorsport and both he and his wife are avid participants and well-known proponents of the sport.
Putting his Spin on Music for Spinners
Not only did Grandmaster Ready D curate the music on Spinners but he has also composed some of the track and even got behind the mic to rap on one of the tracks.
It is however when listening to the Soundtrack in its entirety that one realises that it is a masterstroke of showing off the various sounds and styles of Cape Town artists but also from across the country. It has huge Cape Flats influence yes, but it also does not neglect what music fans from other parts or indeed all over the world would expect to hear behind the story lines and plot twists, the grittiness or the emotionally charged moments of Spinners.
The Spinners Soundtrack features among many others music by the likes of Snova, Hef The Chef, Grimehouse, KRO-Barz, Early B, YoungstaCPT, Onesimu, DJ Vitoto, Hemelbesem, DJ Azuhl, Ishmael, Isaac Mutant, Jerome Rex and the gone-too-soon Angie Oeh. There are too many others to mention.
Listen to The Sound Of Spinners Full Soundtrack Playlist Further Below
It is interesting to notethat actor Cantona James who plays Ethan in Spinners says that he listened to a lot of Youngsta CPT’s music whilst preparing for his role.
“I would say the hip hop music from Cape Town is definitely quite prominent in there because when they approached me they wanted the authentic Cape Town sound projected in the series.”
There are of course other genres represented as well, including Gqom, Trap, Amapiano, Grime and Afrotech.
“There are a whole lot of different music textures that also feature. A soundtrack cannot have just one type of music since the different scenes require a different… I would say musical support… in order to make the scene work, help the scene move along, create emotional moments or create tension.”
Synchronising the Admin on Sync Deals
A vital part of curating a soundtrack for a film or TV production is the administrative work involved in securing the Sync Deal for each artist and each track that will be used. Sync Deals are what allows artists to be paid for the use of their music in films and TV productions.
Deon Daniels credits his wife and business partner Malikah with being the one who takes care of all of the legalities and contracts around securing the proper music rights from artists and liaising with the films production company with regards to that.
Spinners is an international production and though we have so many talented artists who are putting out music, particularly on the Cape Flats, but also across the country that would work well in Spinners, it is not as easy as it may seem.
When an artist or their publisher does not have all their music administrative ducks in a row, then it makes it impossible to use their music on a soundtrack.
“The difficult part is the legal aspects around that. There’s a lot of contracts and in this instance it was extremely complicated because the whole process was managed by a French company Empreinte Digitale so Malikah in each instance had to conform with French law as well as South African law. Each clause needed to be properly translated and double checked.”
“As an artist you need to either yourself be very clued-up or be prepared to have representation that can explain to you what all these clauses mean and before you sign you have to be clear on what you’re signing this and why you are signing that as well.”
“It all sounds so very it sounds very attractive and glitzy to have your name and your music attached to a series or movie. That’s the cool part. The difficult part is what happens behind the scenes and in our instance we had to reach out to Associates Within the Music Industry to help us understand certain clauses as well.”
“Things are always changing and the goal posts are always moving around the legalities and it’s important that everybody is covered. Malikah made sure of that.”
Artists Need to Up Their Game & Understand Music Business
As already mentioned it is frustrating for a music curator on an international project to come across a song they would like to include on a soundtrack to find that although the artist is willing, their songs are disqualified for administrative reasons.
There are so many great opportunities opening up for South African musicians in the film and TV industry and sadly especially Cape Town Musicians are lacking in their knowledge of how to get their music to the right people in the right way.
We asked DJ Ready D about courses developed for musicians in order for them to understand the business side of music.
“There’s a lot of opportunities that’s out there for artists in terms of learning about publishing and all the different aspects of administration in the music business. The sad thing is that artist, especially the young ones, only a very few attend if they feel like it even when most of the courses and workshops are free. There are even online courses that people can be doing as well.”
“Probably one of the most prominent resources is Music Exchange, run by Martin Meyers with Selwyn Bartlett also being involved there. That organization knows and teaches the last ins and outs in detail about all of these matters, and yeah sure, those who need it the most don’t rock up.”
I happened to mention that Frazer Barry has the same problem when he invites artists to free or subsidised workshops.
DJ Ready D then reminded me that Frazer Barry also features on a lekke ghoema track on the Spinners Soundtrack produced by DJ Ready D called Good Tmes in Cape Town which originally was on Ready D’s album Ghoema Music.
As for artists not working to up their Music Business Knowledge…
We at Bruinou.com know first-hand what Ready D is talking about as over at least a decade we have often been offered Free Access or heavily subsidised entry to Music Exchange workshops and music industry master classes to share with the artists among our readers. We would often only get a handful of responses and among that handful we would still have a few no-shows.
So yeah, we feel you on that one DJ Ready D.
Changing the Narratives & Telling Our Own Stories
We asked DJ Ready D what he believes is the significance of the Spinners series.
We ended going into an even deeper conversation about filming making on the Cape Flats and also what having music in film and TV can do for an artist. I’m of course going to ty and save you all of that deeper details and give you his main views.
We got to talking about how since his days as a pioneering DJ who alongside DJ realROZZANO introduced Revolutionary Hip Hop to crowds at T-zers & The Base, as a member of POC, and later on TV with Mzansi Ridez, as a radio presenter who continues to often interview people from the Cape Flats to share the great things they do, that in essence DJ Ready D is a Storyteller.
DJ Ready D knows we are not nearly where we need to be, but we are inching closer to truly telling our own stories..
“It’s important for us to tell our stories and to get our voices heard. You know there’s way more layers and there’s way more depth to who we are as people and communities. If we just zoom into the Cape Flats, there’s so much that the world didn’t hear or experience. We now have opportunities to try and forge ahead to get our phenomenal stories out.
Whether it’s fiction, whether it’s fantasy or whether it’s based n fact; there is great opportunity in that.”
“I mean; I’m just hoping that we are here to change the narrative at some stage. We need break away from always being portrayed as the victims or the perpetrators of some sort of crime because it’s more to our communities then you know the usual stuff that usually blow up in the media.”
The Next Evolution
With Spinners getting such huge acclaim locally and abroad, and with DJ Ready D being rightfully proud of his contribution to its success, we asked him whether he will be taking up such a daunting task again.
“I’m hoping that there will be another opportunity to fulfil this role because it’s really exciting. I love it.”
Grandmaster DJ Ready D has taken the next evolutionary step in his career that spans being a DJ, a Hip Hop artists, a music producer, TV show host and radio presenter.
We have seen over many years that DJ Ready D works well with fellow creatives from all over the country and even internationally. We have seen him open many doors for people who want to put in the work.
Being a Music Director in the film and television industry is his next evolution.
We are sure that this has also already opened a few doors for his fellow music creators.