Pic: Student Brands
Sketchy Bongo is about as productive as any music producer in the country, so it’s hardly surprising that when I called him earlier in the week he was in studio. It’s been a solid start to the year for Sketchy and he’s putting in more work to try and keep that run going.

Sketchy and his Wolf Pack crew have made a point of opening doors for young, up and coming artists. “We just hear people’s music and, if we like it, we tell them to come through. There’s this Durban crew called Rudeboyz and they’ve got this new Gqom sound coming out of Durban right now. This Gqom sound is so big right now in the dance scene. I do hip hop and pop music and I want to try and incorporate the two and see if we can make it cross over or something. That’s how we work, we love diversity.”

His busy schedule has seen him touring around the country and places such as Namibia, Malawi and Zambia and, on Sunday, he’ll be performing as the opening act for Justin Bieber’s Purpose World Tour at the FNB Stadium. “We’re excited and we’re a little bit stressed out,” he said. “I’m about to have a session where we start doing rehearsals for the show. I’m bringing the Wolf Pack with me so there’s gonna be Aewon Wolf, Kyle Deutsch and all the guys. It’s gonna be quite crazy. So logistically we’re trying to work out how this is gonna work. The stage is huge. At FNB Stadium they’re selling 60 000 tickets and at Cape Town Stadium they’re selling 70 000 tickets. So these are the biggest stages we’ve ever played on and probably one of the biggest stages anyone in this country has ever played on.”

Ordinarily, the opening act comes on way before the main artist while the crowd is still very modest. But for this show, Sketchy’s set will end 10 minutes before Bieber comes on.

Sketchy and Aewon Wolf recently launched a new record label called Wolf Pack X and they’ve now got two new artists signed under the label, Kaien Cruz and Khumz. Both artists, who’ve only recently turned 18, will be part of the team opening for Justin Bieber during his SA tour.

Sketchy’s debut album, Unmasked was released in February and it’s already spawned three South African Music Award (Sama) nominations – Best Newcomer, Best Pop Album. Unmasked contains some previously released singles like Back to the Beach and Let You Know. “I’m just happy to be nominated. It’s a typical thing to say, but it really is something. I mean, Best Pop Album was won by Brenda Fassie and Sipho Hotstix. I mean, these are legends. So I’m nominated in a category where people that won it were legends that influenced me so much. Just that on its own is a little bit mind-blowing.”

For the rest of the year, Sketchy will be aiming to tour around the continent. He’s already got a few trips lined up including one to Nairobi, Kenya in July where he’ll be working on a television show for about three weeks. “I’m just trying to get outside the borders that I’m used to. I’m also all about collaborating with different artists who do different types of music that we don’t do in this country. I’m just enjoying the diversity.”