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Goldfish bring an old-style edge to EDM

Cape Town duo combine classical, jazz, sax and African beats at GLC House gig



South African electronic dance music (EDM) duo Goldfish like to mix it up — they combine house sounds with "real" instruments, jazz and African beats.

"It's all about live instruments," says Dominic Peters in an email interview from Cape Town. "Dave (Poole) plays saxophone and flute and I play electric double bass and keyboards. We mix this with dance beats and basically go nuts for about an hour and a half... sort of the re-invention of the DJ."

This brings to their sound what Peters describes as "human energy," adding that the idea is to use instruments in a way that make sense for the song, avoiding a karaoke style that kills the life in it.

This is Goldfish's first Canadian tour but as self-confessed "sushi and surfing" lovers they should do just fine. They perform at the Garibaldi Lift Company in Whistler on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 9:30 p.m.

Peters and Poole are known for having a sense of humour, with songs titled "One Million Views" — a dig at online viral culture — and "Three-Second Memory" — an ode to the short memory of goldfish.

"Having a sense of humour will help with everything in life," says Peters. "I think our 'One Million Views' video definitely ruffled a few feathers in the EDM world... but if you can't take the joke than maybe you have something to hide? Our view is if you can't make the effort to play, or at least mix, the music you make then there's something to laugh at there."

Both have classical and jazz training to draw on, a slightly unusual path to EDM.

"Getting degrees in music isn't essential, but it definitely sets you up for anything the music world throws at you," says Peters.

"It's sort of like working in theatre or studying Shakespeare before going into making movies. You'll never regret the extra training and knowledge. It definitely gives you an edge with songwriting... but that said living in Ibiza every summer when Goldfish just started was like Dance Music University, too."   

Their new single collaboration with French producer Dimmi, "The Storm," is out now and Peters says new releases are on the way.

Along with an education in Spanish clubland, there is the amazing music of Cape Town. Peters describes their hometown as culturally diverse and cosmopolitan, and says they are well supported.

"You're rubbing up alongside so many different cultures and vibes. It definitely has influenced our sound," Peters says.

"People know our music in a different way at home than maybe a new audience would in the middle of Ohio or in Budapest. Sometimes we drop a track that is absolutely massive in S.A., but no one knows it when you're playing at 3 a.m. in Budapest. That can be a great thing, as you can see what tracks they react to in the most honest way. It's like the ultimate focus group."

One particular highlight for them in their career was meeting the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.

"To hear him say, 'Ah, Goldfish,' in that classic voice when we were introduced before playing '46664' was an unforgettable moment," Peters says.