Cape Town has always been at the forefront of South African Electronic Dance Music. People over in Durban may contest that 330 was instrumental in the development of the local scene; while Highveld types might argue that Joburg is where it’s at. True, both cities have had some landmark nightclub institutions in their time, but Cape Town is where the talent is. Most of the artists currently making waves both nationally and internationally tend to hail from the Mother City. And one such artist about to create some serious waves of her own is Margaret Westergreen, aka Lady M…
Originally from the sleepy sea-side town of Durban (they’re gonna love that!), Little Maggie moved down to Cape Town with her family in standard eight. As we all know, this is pretty much right at the beginning of what I like to call ‘the jol era’. With an older brother showing her the ropes, Margaret soon started to immerse herself in the thriving scene of Cape Town’s club culture. From the funky house of the Old (Old) Fez to the deeper, more techno orientated sounds of Club More, the city was Margaret’s playground.
During this hedonistic time, Margaret met many of Cape Town’s most influential people in the night-life industry. One of those people was legendary Deep House maestro, Peter Abrahams. Bowled over by her infectious energy and obvious enthusiasm for deep house music, Peter felt compelled to offer Margaret the chance of being taken under his wing and teaching her to DJ. Catching the train from town to Obs everyday after school, Margaret learned her craft on the original tools of the trade – vinyl turntables. With her passion for music growing after each lesson, Margaret started collecting vinyls soon thereafter and the rest, as they say, is history.
After finishing up at school, Margaret was adamant that she wanted to pursue a career in the industry she had come to love. After meeting Raymond Bloom (current manager of Goldfish) at a spot on Bree called Beat Boutique, he offered her a position in his thriving events company – famed for it’s hugely successful Bliss parties – and that’s where things really began to happen for Margaret. Thrown right in to the deep (house) end, it was either sink or swim. And man, did Margaret swim…
With a flair for putting together events, and an ever expanding music collection, it was time for Margaret to make the step up to the DJ booth. With a residency at cocktail bar La Coza, Margaret began to hone her craft – thriving in the relaxed lounge setting. Although she loved the gig and appreciated the opportunity, the desire to play in front of a heaving dance-floor started to drive her to push herself even further in her musical journey. It was about that time that the club Sutra started to take off, and fate played it’s hand.
Margaret landed a job working the Sutra office during the day, where her skills gleaned from several years in the event industry paid dividends. Sutra became more and more popular, while Margaret’s hunger to swap the back office for the main stage grew right alongside it until, eventually, her moment came. With her debut club set at Sutra fast approaching, Margaret’s nerves were shot! In between hiccuping and shouting at her boyfriend of the time, Margaret meticulously planned her set like the perfectionist she is. With a connection to music that was very personal to her, Margaret was nervous of the reception that awaited. She needn’t have been. Her debut set, playing music that she enjoyed listening to, resonated powerfully with the crowd and Margaret, the dance floor filling DJ, was born!
Letting her music speak for itself, news soon spread around the small city of Cape Town that there was a new player on the scene. Residency at La Coza was followed by yet more at Fuse and Black Sheep. Margaret grew in confidence after each set and developed a style that was uniquely hers. It was around this time that a DJ collective/label called Platform Music started to pay attention to the diminutive blonde with big talent, and approached her about joining it’s ranks. Comprising of names like Ryan Dent, Shane Manne and Sean Bauer, Margaret found herself in esteemed company indeed. She began to work for Platform Music in building the brand and, alongside her label mates, was responsible for it’s increasing dominance. Regular sets at Cape Town super club Opium exposed her to the masses, and the masses were loving her right back.
The increased exposure and negatives of club life began to take their toll on Margaret, and the naturally shy woman sought refuge from the glare of the club lasers. Taking a two year playing sabbatical to recharge her batteries, Margaret spent time with another of her loves – horses. The break allowed her to refocus and and take stock of her life, so switching the decks for the stables was ultimately one of the most important decisions of her young life.
Freshly reinvigorated and hungry to carry on her musical journey, Margaret returned to the scene in 2009. The transition from vinyl turntables to CDJ’s followed, and Margaret set about re-establishing herself in the scene from which she voluntarily withdrew for two years. Butterfly Bar were quick to resume their relationship with her, and the DJ cobwebs were brushed off quicker than a smelly cat off a lap. Lady M was back! The next two years were dedicated to raising her profile, so Margaret played everywhere from intimate house parties, to laid back lounges, to the big clubs. All the while staying true to her philosophy of expressing herself through her sets and steering clear of club politics.
2010 was a pivotal year for Margaret for a number of reasons. Firstly it marked the year in which she made the switch to revolutionary technology Serato, which to her represented the perfect merger of the digital movement with the authenticity of vinyl ["If you're DJing, you should be mixing. I don't believe in the sync button"] and, secondly, it was the year in which she met Vanessa Holiday and formed the country’s first electronic female duo, Digital Divas. Whilst Digital Divas enjoyed national success, Margaret was unhappy about the direction that her career was taking. The decision to disband was made, and Margaret continued along her own path – a path she was always happiest on.
With the desire to take even more creative control over her sets, Margaret made the decision to study music production and enrolled at the Soul Candi Institute of Music in their Advanced Music Production course. With her credo of “if you’re going to do something, do it properly”, Margaret sought to get to the source of music and understand it’s composition on a level that she previously did not. Under the tutelage of the Soul Candi lecturers, Margaret began to master Cubase and was excited by the doors that it unlocked. With international influences like Fever Ray, Nina Kraviz and Mya Jane Cole, Margaret began following in the footsteps of her local inspirations Floyd Lavine and Felix Laband to create something that was entirely her own.
So what next for Lady M? After spending some time in the Red Bull Studios, Margaret decided that she needed to attend Electronic Dance Music University (or ‘Europe’ to you and I) and is busy packing her bags for what will undoubtedly be an experience of a life time. With plans to take in as many of her idols as possible, Margaret is about to embark on a musical education of note. In a whirlwind tour that will see her taking in Amsterdam, Cologne, Berlin and Munich (amongst others), Margaret plans to soak up as much deep house and techno culture as she can in order to return better and more knowledgeable than ever before.
With several gigs already confirmed in some of Europe’s top EDM cities, we’re sure that Lady M has nothing but big things on the horizon. Her passion, drive and technicality mean that she’s able to go head to head with the best and not just be considered a ‘female DJ’ but a ‘Deep House DJ’. Focusing on good music and good selection, it’s only a matter of time before Lady M fulfils her ambitions of playing her own music at SA’s biggest festivals, and Brandalism wish her nothing but the best in that endeavour.
Confirmed European Gigs:
Fri 13 July @ Conservatorium Hotel (Amsterdam)
Sat 14 July @ Kokokarama 2 (Berlin)
Sat 28 July @ Supperclub (Amsterdam)
We can’t wait to hear tales of her European adventure. And get a shit load of music from her.