Markus Wormstorm:Cape Town’s leftfield god of glitch…
At the tender age of 19, Markus left his hometown of Pretoria to seek his musical fortune in Cape Town. Upon his arrival in the Mother City, he slipped a demo tape under the door of legendary Cape Town leftfield record label African Dope Records – and the rest is glitch history…
Markus’s journey in music really begins many years before that. Markus remembers being 12 years-old and discovering a deep passion for the sound of drums and percussion. Soon bored with the relative confines of traditional instruments, the young Markus moved onto exploring primitive DOS software as a means to programming music. As the software improved, so did Markus’s programming skills.
Now, growing up in Pretoria seems to have a certain effect on those inclined to the creative, endowing upon them a certain slightly weird take on life. Markus is no different in this sense. “The Worm” (as he is affectionately known) graduated from the Pro Arte School of music, art and drama. At age 16 Markus Wormstorm wrote his first script for theatre, with accompanying direction and soundtracks composition. The rest of his school career was littered with more theatrical writings and some honorary awards for music and literature.
It was only really in Cape Town however that Markus met with other South African music artists that he would, could and still will collaborate with. One of the first projects he got involved with was alongside acclaimed electro-kid and erstwhile IDM producer Felix Laband. Together they created ‘Killed by Dwarf’, a series of experiments in electronic jam sessions.
A week after posting his demo tape to African Dope Records, Markus received a call from Fletcher at African Dope (and one half of pioneering DJ duo Krushed & Sorted), who asked Markus to bring his music to the Dope studio, and so began the now infamous African Dope Records music library.
Through brokering a few licensing deals, Markus managed to accumulate some cash, which he quickly spent on hand-making 200 copies of his “album”, which he would hand-out at gigs and to friends. One of these copies would land in the hands of noted MC Waddy Jones, front man of Johannesburg’s then ruling hip-hop group Max Normal. While on a Max Normal tour to Cape Town, Waddy Jones and his DJ, Sibot met Markus and invited him to collaborate on Waddy’s Constructus Corporation project. This took the better part of over a year to realise its release as the concept album/graphic novel ‘The Ziggurat’. The album/book included a free blank CD with a unique code attached which listeners could take to a special website to download free mp3s and then burn them to the free CD!
Markus and Sibot would go on to explore musical similarities and in so doing give rise to the Real Estate Agents; one of a few rare South African delights in the form of a live/DJ dance floor terrorist attack! The Real Estate Agents are a mainstay on the Cape Town party and live music circuit and continue to tour South Africa and the world on a regular basis.
Read more about the Real Estate Agents here
Whilst over in New York, a copy of Markus’s album would find its way into the living room hi-fi of a certain Alex Threadgold; owner of New York-based electro/ IDM label SoundInk. Bam! A juicy three album deal for Markus on SoundInk results, adding his name next to those like M Sayeed of Anti Pop Consortium and MF Doom. His first album for the label, ‘Rachel the Bear’ was due for worldwide release before the end of 2005. Unfortunately distributor complications delayed the roll out of the album, until SoundInk decided to release it digitally in 2006/2007.
Back in Cape Town Markus expanded his operations to include compositions for TV and film. With co-conspiritors Simon(Sibot) and Duncan Ringrose he formed the corporate sound design agency ‘SAYTHANKYOU’. Armed with an unconventional / underground approach and philosophy, the three founding members entered the world of corporate advertising! Initially regarded as the renegades/wild cards of the industry, the company has built up a solid reputation as one of the leading composition and sound design agencies in South Africa. Markus’s beats have provided the soundtrack for corporate radio and television ad campaigns for Metro FM music radio, VR Brandy, Audi ,Ford, B.O.E., South African Design Indaba, Nokia cellphones and local cellphone service providers Cell C.
African Dope Records, in association with management label sSHADOWORKSs released Markus’ debut South African album in December 2004. With 17 electronically inspired and varying tracks, it still remains impossible to classify this album as having any one sound. Partly ambient, partly funky, but always intricately and superbly composed and produced. Various music websites are still offering free mp3 downloads and gratis music videos of the big tracks off this album.
Markus is now 25 years-old, and with a start out such as his, the future does indeed look bright!
Other Markus Wormstorm projects:
The Real Estate Agents
Black Heart Gang