Music for your eyeballs

Anthea Duce, or "Duce Duce" as she is known on the underground bass music scene, interprets music in live projections that mix found footage with graphics.

British native Anthea Duce brings a unifying energy to South Africa's underground bass music scene that goes beyond her pivotal role as co-founder of the Cold Turkey weekly parties in Cape Town. A graphic designer by training, she creates live projections to accompany DJ sets that give the crowd another touchpoint for their senses and a shared experience. She says she began delving into live visuals and projections at her events as a means of experiencing the club circuit in a new way. She mixes found footage from popular culture with striking graphics, cutting and sampling, layering and looping images over one another to evoke a mood to match the music.

Duce – who goes by the performing name of "Duce Duce" – plays with friend and fellow Briton Jumping Back Slash at The Side Show on Thursday 26 February as part of Design Indaba Music 2015. We asked her what goes into her live-projection performances and what she's got up her sleeve for this year's event.

Music, images… what's the connection?

We’ve been watching music videos since the early 1980s and the launch of MTV proved that we don’t only want to hear music, we want to see it too. It’s a way of attaching a feeling to music that is beyond the ears. It engages an audience and can bring a cohesion to the collective experience of listening.

How did you get into the music scene?

I love music and I throw parties and events to help promote and create a platform for the kind of music that I want to see progress and grow in South Africa. I got into doing live visuals because of that love. I liked the idea of visualising how I feel when I hear particular sounds as well as the overall atmosphere that can be created through the combination. 

What do live projections bring to a performance from the audience's point of view?

It’s a powerful thing to captivate the eyes and ears of a person.

You have a background in graphic design and advertising. Tell us more? 

I graduated from AAA School of Advertising in 2010 and after a short stint at an ad agency, I decided that I wanted to pursue my own projects. I’d had the opportunity to be involved in the 2010 World Cup, managing a creative activation for Adidas. It was a wonderful project called Three Stories, dreamt up by Ricky Lee Gordon, that tied together many multilayered experiences in one large industrial building in Woodstock. I got involved in a number of projects with him and his gallery and that inspired me to create my own event, Cold Turkey, which has been the platform for me and my partners to grow the underground bass music scene as well as play with finding a visual language for our music.

What kinds of visuals are you drawn to in your own live acts?

I create a lot of vector-based animations or gifs. They’re extremely simple! I like to combine them with found footage, but I mostly play with textures and shapes. 

Why do you like working with Jumping Back Slash? What kind of synergies do you have together?

We've been in touch with each other since 2011 where I harassed him to play at Cold Turkey for about a year until it finally happened. I like his sensibility, his approach and interpretation of South African sounds, and his sense of reality and humour. He is a truly creative individual; there’s no imitation. He has a clear sense of direction, evident in his own work and in the work he produces for others. As a result of seeing this I started managing him with my agency, Gaartjie, two years ago. Coming together to create a live show is a fantastic realisation of our friendship and the working relationship we’ve had over the past few years.

What can audiences at Design Indaba expect to see from you?

I’ve recently been drawn to layering short animated characters with strong geometric motion backgrounds. I almost exclusively worked with black and white imagery as it works well with the heavier bass frequencies, but in the last month I seem to keep dropping in vivid colours.

How would you describe the state of the current live DJ scene in South Africa right now?

It’s an exciting time to be listening to live electronic music. There are a lot of people that have access to DJ software, equipment and programmes but it takes a special talent to use those tools to be truly creative and masterful. It’s raising the bar in terms of being a good selector and actually doing something with those sounds that makes an audience putty in your hands.

Any rising talents we should look out for?

Jumping Back Slash is one of a handful of artists that I am excited to see devastate the music scene this year. Okmalumkoolkat has been teasing and tantalising audiences for the past few years and is truly leading the way with his phenomenal lyrical style. Big Space, Boolz and Terrasoul are other musical game-changers that will blow up the status quo.

Duce Duce and Jumping Back Slash play on Thursday 26 Februry 2015 at the Side Show as part of Design Indaba Music 2015. Follow her on Facebook (uberduce), Instagram at @uberduce and Twitter at @uberduce.