BORN and raised in Verulam, Trishen Govender found himself dabbling with creating music from as early as the age of 10 and by the time he reached high school, he was producing beats that had his friends hooked.
“Music had always been an instrumental part of my life while growing up. I used to find a soundtrack for every moment and I could see life in colour like this. My inspiration is drawn from musicians such as Hans Zimmer, Kanye West and Rick Rubin,” said the 24-year-old music producer.
Fast forward a couple of years and Govender - popularly known by his artist name, Sleeping Buddha - finds his sound traversing the world. Last June, he released his first EP/LP titled Sleeping Buddha - Oni on all online digital stores, which was a groundbreaking project.
The big break:
Two months later, he went on tour with popular South African rapper Sho Madjozi and dance/electronic duo Rudeboyz to the Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda - one of the world’s most iconic music festivals.
Since then, Govender’s music has featured internationally on music blogs and podcasts and in European clubs in Paris, Amsterdam, and London.
Commenting on his first EP, Govender said: “Sleeping Buddha - Oni took me about a year to make and it features some of my most experimental and diverse work. It features a dark experimental take on gqom music tied in with some movie scores and it paints a visual image in the listeners’ head.
“It’s not the conventional 10-track project as it’s a rare and special experience I wanted to give the listeners, not just a straightforward project, because art is something that is supposed to be thought-provoking and questioned.”
He said going on tour at the Nyege Nyege Festival was “amazing”.
“I had an opportunity to play at my first international show in front of a huge crowd of people from across the globe and it was amazing because they loved my music and my work. It is truly an indescribable feeling when you create something and it connects with thousands of others.”
Govender is qualified in music production, sound designing, radio jingle production, film scoring, and game audio scoring (music production for video games). This is his full-time profession.
Govender said that at age 5 he spent most of his time by himself - either drawing or playing video games, which used to stimulate his creativity.
“I never used to be a popular kid, so I never had a lot of friends. I used to always like creating art and I would find comfort in that. When I used to play with my action figures, I used to create the music for that scene in my head and hum it out, and that’s how I started to learn to hum different chord progressions and picture movie scenes in my head.
“At age 10, I got a hold of a software called Fruity Loops and I started to mess around with it and create my own productions. Even though it wasn’t great at first, I knew that in time, with more focus and investing my time in my craft, I would be able to produce great pieces of work with this software.
“In high school, I used to produce music on that programme and I used to play my own creations to my friends and they started to like them and that’s what pushed me to spend even more time on it.”
After high school, Govender studied audio designing and music production and audio engineering. “I knew I had to learn everything I could regarding production to sharpen my skills.”
Finding ‘his’ sound:
Dabbling in many different genres, Govender has experimented with sounds influenced by lo-fi to hip hop to gqom music.
“I actually started creating movie scores at first, then my sound adapted to a more experimental electronic sound where I used to craft my own sounds from scratch and design my sounds using synths (synthesisers). I then decided to create a sound that hasn’t been done before, and that was an ‘experimental electronic gqom’ sound, which is my signature sound today and pushes the envelope of gqom and South African music to the next level by incorporating different elements from movie scoring and experimental electronic music.”
Govender said gqom music (for example songs like Omunye by Distruction Boyz) was the essence of house and dance music in South Africa as it started in Durban by using broken beats, and then over the years, it became hugely popular across clubs in Europe, North America, and Asia.
“It’s a beautiful thing because music connects millions of people, and it’s putting South Africa on the map in the music industry globally. I released a three-track EP in November self-titled Sleeping Buddha through the international label Hakuna Kulala.
“It was an amazing feeling because as a musician, you always want your work released on an international label and it was the first time I had my work featured on the homepage of the European Apple music store upon release. Since then, my fan base internationally has been growing and my work always gets featured on blogs across the world, and my music is played constantly in European clubs.”
His newest release, Iscatulo - the lead single from his upcoming project, Area 51 - is now available on online digital stores such as iTunes, Spotify, Tidal and Google Music.
“Iscatulo is the lead single from my upcoming project. I feature two of Durban’s most creative and energetic vocalists, L2 and BC King. With Iscatulo, this song is an anthem. It gets you going at 5am or 10pm. It’s a song full of energy and raw emotion. I call it the new age Sister Bettina. I wanted to get the ekasi street flavour on this gqom banger and I switched things up with this, as I made sure I had to get the quality sounding like no other.”
He continued: “I’m a firm believer in giving the fans a high-quality product that can stand the test of time and last for 10 years. That is why I feel Iscatulo is going to be a big song, because we managed to do that. You can play it over and over again and it will still sound refreshing to the ear, and its catchy chorus will get you singing the lyrics, whether you’re at work or at school. It’s definitely a club banger and a vibe for all radio stations.”
* You can follow Govender and hear a teaser of Iscatulo on his Facebook page: Sleeping Buddha