top of page, Rose Bonica and Rhythm Lab Records unite on new international music collaboration

Early last year, South African community organiser brought Manchester based Reform Radio and their label Rhythm Lab Records together with esteemed Cape Town producer and label owner Rose Bonica.

Over a six month period, Rose worked with a group of young musicians aged between 18 and 35 from underserved communities in the Western Cape of South Africa. She, along with South Africa, provided the support required to develop new skills, knowledge and connections within the music industry.

Of the project Rose Bonica said, “To be able to share the skills I have learnt over the years of being part of the music industry with people who reminded me so much of myself when I first started was an amazing experience. The more I look back at the programme the more I see how important these types of things are for women, queer and gender minority artists in our industry.”

The culmination of the project was a paid opportunity to collaborate remotely with established musicians in Manchester, handpicked by the team at Reform Radio. Mutualism, dropping 3rd of March via the station’s label Rhythm Lab Records, is the result of those collaborations.

“Between the incredible producers and radio hosts we’ve been exposed to via Reform Radio, we’ve noticed a similar drive, passion and tenacity to the talent we work with in South Africa which is both inspiring and affirming.” Rose continued.

The heavy hitters in question are Manchester staples Murder He Wrote, Ellen Beth Abdi, and Obeka. Over the last three months, these names have mentored the South African participants, guiding them through the process of creating, structuring and releasing music for a label.

Shanzo who was paired with UK Funky legend Murder he Wrote, said of the process

“Working with an established artist was very exciting. I saw it as an opportunity to elevate the current place my art is at and move it further towards the level I want it to reach with the guidance of someone more experienced. The collaboration, while a little outside of my comfort zone, felt very natural and helped me engage with my writing in particular in a new and exciting way.”

Above: Ellen Beth Abdi was paired with Singlemotheroftwo on Teething Problems.

Obeka was paired with Chulu on Alone, with remix duties coming from Caro C. Mutualism EP is a joyous moment, which sees two communities reach out across continents to experiment and empower. Their efforts have given rise to a journey that spans African percussion, tinges of jungle, and beautifully sublime vocal performances.


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