Sketchy Bongo produced the song ‘Let You Know’, which received international acclaim. He recently signed with Sony Music. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Sketchy Bongo produced the song ‘Let You Know’, which received international acclaim. He recently signed with Sony Music. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

You've heard hit songs from artists such as Aewon Wolf, Locnville, Shekhinah, Kyle Deutsch, Danny K, Nasty C, Tresor, Jimmy Nevis, Ryki, AKA and Da Les. The common thread is 27-year old Yuvir Pillay, better known as Sketchy Bongo.

The Durban producer says as a child he was influenced by his father’s love of music, and after being persuaded to play the piano, he grew to love it and soon realised his lifelong passion. Bongo started producing music at the age of 13 and cites his early influences as global icons such as Michael Jackson, Pharrell Williams and Kanye West. Together with his friend Aewon Wolf, Bongo started the Wolf Pack, which consists of a select group of producers, artists, graphic designers, rappers and kwaito artists who have come together with a similar vision. They’ve recently signed new artist Kaien Cruz, who Aewon discovered on Instagram as well as new member Khumz, who Bongo discovered in the underground scene and describes as very talented. His trademark is his ski mask that he is always seen wearing. Also a Visual Artist, this multitalented hit maker is the only South African producer to have his own feature on MTV Base. Last week he opened for Justin Bieber. This is what he had to say about his career thus far:

1. How did producing music start for you?

I played the piano as a child so I’ve always had an appreciation and love for music. When I met Arnold ‘Aewon Wolf’ Phillips we started hanging out, became good friends, and we started creating raps and beats. It all started from there.

2. You’re a visual artist as well, which artists inspired you?

How involved are you in the album art/ videos? I studied visual art, a lot of my influence artistically is alternative. I’m influenced by surrealism and artists like Salvador Dali, Wassily Kandinsky, just the world around me. I live in Durban so a lot of what I see around the city influences and inspires me. I’m very hands on, I design almost everything myself. The picture for my album, Unmasked, was actually taken by Aewon, outside St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, I really liked it and decided to use it as the cover.

3. Who do you have a lot of respect for in the South African music industry and who would you like to work with in future?

A few people, we have immense talent in SA. I’d like to work with legends in the industry, musicians who have mastered their craft, people like Hugh Masekela and Mango Groove. I would love to work with the Parlotones if the opportunity arises. At the moment I’m working with a lot of underground artists, we’ve recently discovered an artist by the name Khumz and I’m really excited about it, there’s a lot of talent in the underground scene.

4. What is one mistake you see a lot of up and coming producers making and what advice would you give them?

In terms of marketing a lot of artists don’t finish what they start or create and want to jump onto the next thing. Artists and producers need to get their music out there, send their music to every radio station and follow up, make use of social media as well.

5. Where do you see yourself in the next 3 years?

I see myself running my label, pushing other artists music that are signed to my label and who are part of the Wolf Pack. I want to produce great music with great artists.

6. Is there one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?

Billie Jean, Michael Jackson.

7. Tell me what’s been the most memorable moment for you thus far?

I would say the first time I heard one of my songs on the radio, it was a track with Aewon Wolf. Nothing compares to the first time you hear your song on the radio, it will always be the highlight of my career.

8. Big question, what was it like opening for Justin Bieber last weekend?

It was absolutely amazing, we played to massive crowds, 60000 people in Johannesburg and 70000 in Cape Town, I’ve never seen such a huge crowd before so it was just amazing experience for me.

9. Did you find a difference between international acts as compared to local artists?

Not really, the calibre is the same, except the Bieber show for example had thousands of lights and pyrotechnics it was on a grander scale, in terms of level of ability it’s pretty much the same.

10. How do you feel about the South African Music Awards and being nominated this year?

I’ve been nominated for three categories, best newcomer, best pop artist and album of the year, I feel very honoured to be apart of the SAMA’s and to be nominated for so many awards. It’s a very prestigious award, a lot of legendary South African musicians have received SAMAs. Brenda Fassie was nominated for best pop artist and I’m in that same category so I’m very honoured.

11. The Future for Sketchy?

You can expect a lot of shows across the country and in America, there will be a lot of new material being released with a lot of new artists as well.

12. Any last words? I’d like to thank all of my fans and people who listen to my music for all the support, thank you to everyone, keep listening and supporting local music.

Keep up to speed with Sketchy Bongo and The Wolf Pack, follow @SketchyBongo @ TheWolfPackSA on twitter and instagram, https://www.facebook. com/SketchyBongo.