Major League Djz on the Amapiano Genre, Advice for Aspiring DJs, and More
Major League Djz are here to spread the love of African dance music from Africa to the rest of the world. Composed of twin brothers Banele and Bandile, the duo is most popular for pioneering amapiano, a subgenre of house music that came into fruition in South Africa in the mid-2010s. It’s been described as a melting pot of deep house, jazz, and lounge music, characterized by synths and powerful basslines.
The guys initially garnered a buzz from their Amapiano Balcony Mix, which stems from their live performances on the balcony of an apartment complex in the suburbs, during the height of the Covid lockdowns. Their sets were heavily streamed in every part of the world, as they made a name for themselves as a force to be reckoned with within the music industry.
It was actually a performance at Diplo’s gorgeous house in Malibu when he proposed the idea of them doing a project together. This is exactly how their new album, Piano Republik, came about, a collaboration alongside Major Lazer. Per Walshy Fire the nine-track project has a strong emphasis on the use of piano.
We caught up with Major League Djz to discuss how they came together. Keep reading for more.
How did you guys form as a group initially?
We’ve been throwing parties in South Africa since we were teenagers, and naturally made the progression towards producing our own music – being a music promoter in the first instance gave us a really good sense of dance music culture, how it moves, and what it takes to make a great party, as well as a great record.
The real turning point and international recognition came via our Balcony Mix series during the various lockdowns. We decided to throw parties around our home country, and film and upload them to our YouTube channel. They seemed to really resonate with audiences globally.
How’d you get your name?
We love Major League Baseball!
How do you prepare for a show?
It really depends on the market: every set is carefully curated and bespoke depending on where we are performing.
If it’s back home in South Africa, we are afforded the ability to play much more headsy amapiano sets, as the music is so much a part of the cultural fabric, and the audience is accustomed to our sound and vibe. They expect us to go very deep into the genre.
Elsewhere, in the last 12 months we have been touring internationally pretty much non-stop. Our job really has been to champion and introduce the amapiano genre to a Western audience so it usually involves playing some more familiar sounds and songs whilst staying true to our style and to the amapiano movement.
Do you ever get nervous?
Not really! We are always having a good time and a laugh on the road, so there’s no time to be nervous.
Favorite song to drop in a set?
Current favorite is our collab with Ty Dolla $ign and Major Lazer, it’s called “Oh Yeah” and is a heater.
You just released Piano Republik. What’s one thing you want fans to get from the project?
The crossover of amapiano with dance music.
Can you describe the genre of amapiano? I interviewed Walshy Fire and he said you guys were the best fit to answer the question!
Groovy and sexy house music with undertones of jazz. Amapiano is incomplete without the dance moves of course!
How was it doing Coachella last year? Did you introduce amapiano to the festival?
It was an incredible experience and we sure as hell introduced amapiano to Coachella. It was great to see Uncle Waffles playing the latest edition of Coachella too. Piano to the world!
What are you most excited for headlining the amapiano stage at Afro Nation Miami?
We are really excited to headline the amapiano stage with so many of our friends and peers from back home, to be able to recreate a similar atmosphere to when we are back in Johannesburg in Miami is going to be one for the books!
What can you tell us about the London residency you have coming up in June?
We’re very excited about our London residency. It is the first of its kind for any amapiano artist and we are really proud to be presenting not just our music, but also music from selectors we love, such as Tiffany Calver and Benji B.
London has always been so good to us, the vibes, the people, the club culture, and we can’t wait to take our fans on an even deeper journey into our world.
What are 3 things you need on your rider at all times?
Pioneer DJ CDJS and mixer. Sage bundles for those cozy vibes whilst on the road. Water.
Any advice for upcoming producers or DJs who want to follow in your footsteps?
Build your music knowledge base, and be authentic and true to yourself. That is the only way anyone else can buy into your vision.
What goals do you have for yourselves as artists at this point of your career?
We want to continue immersing amapiano around the globe, introducing our existing fans and new ones to the culture and lifestyle of this eclectic sound.
A big part of what we look forward to doing is bringing back our beloved experiential lifestyle festival: Major League Gardens, doing more Balcony Mixes, and yes, dropping our much anticipated solo project.
About the Writer
Shirley Ju is a Los Angeles-based journalist and on-camera host with her own show called Shirley’s Temple (with a focus on mental health). She lives, breathes, and sleeps music, and if there’s a show in LA, you can find her there. Born in the Bay Area, the Hyphy movement is in her blood. Shirley contributes to several publications and also does interviews for VLAD TV. Follow her at @shirju on both Instagram and Twitter.