Angel-Ho is ready to take the stage
￼￼￼￼Angel-Ho smells like Chanel No. 5.
“I’ve only gotten into it for the last year – I’d always been an Esteé Lauder bitch,” the young DJ and producer tells me over Skype in her rich, opulent purr. “It makes me feel like I’m smoking a cigarette in a ballroom. Like I’m wearing a glitter gown – with Chanel gloves – and I’m just puffing away on a nice cigarette, and I’m just watching the ball go on. I’m enjoying the classical music.”
She pauses for a breath before continuing: “And I’m a bit drunk.”
For now, though, she’s calling me from her home in Cape Town just days after she announced that her debut album Death Becomes Her is coming via London’s Hyperdub. Angel’s been busy since she shook up the tenets of club-ready bangers with her 2015 EP Ascension, which was released on Halycon Veil and mastered by Arca. The EP was frenetic, industrial and dramatic. Dripping with tension and anxiety.
The same year saw her team up with Chino Amobi and Nkisi to found the underground electronic music collective NON Worldwide. With joint headquarters across the UK, USA and South Africa, the three artists met online and created a space for their dystopian dance music that was as sonically left-field as it was ready to disrupt the systems of gender, race and politics that divide us.
“SoundCloud changed my life completely,” she recalls as she lists Queezy, K Rizz, Baby Caramel and the guests she’s brought on board for her album. “That was the only way for us to connect. The internet was a tool that I used to allow myself and my music to be heard.”
With the release of Death Becomes Her floating on the horizon, Angel-Ho is ready to take the stage. The album’s grounded in swift, abrasive production from the likes of Gaika and Nguzunguzu’s Asmara alongside Angel’s own beats. It’s also a celebration of Angel finding her voice. She’s spent the last two years refining her songwriting, and the album puts her singing and rapping at the forefront. A veteran ballroom performer and DJ (she name checks this year’s Sissy Ball in Sydney as one of the first places she debuted rough cuts of her album), Angel’s vying for a spot at the top of pop.
“I envision stadiums. I envision a full-on jam-packed show with different sets, a great, big audience, a roaring crowd,” she continues. But the album of course has its place in the club – “full of people jumping up and down; being sweaty; being misfits; being rude and rowdy and enjoying my music.”
“The woman is a map – there’s always something to be discovered with being a woman”
There’s a softer side to Angel-Ho, too. Throughout our conversation, she makes it clear that there’s a line in the sand between Angel the performer and Angel, the young woman on the other end of our call. It’s an exploration of the self that’s unfolded alongside her exploration of her own gender and transition. “It’s made me not think of a woman as an ideal beauty, but as a figure of exploration and a figure of self-discovery. I really feel like the woman is a map – there’s always something to be discovered with being a woman, and a woman is not a location or a destination for me.”
But for now Angel’s keeping herself busy with more immediate matters. “Going out these days, everybody in Cape Town always recognises me!” she laughs. “How the hell am I gonna disguise myself?”
Sounds Like: Tense, hip-shaking electronic music
Soundtrack For: Getting sweaty with the lights down low
File Next To: LOTIC, Arca
Our Favourite Tune: Drama
Where to Find Her: soundcloud.com/angel-h0
Death Becomes Her is set for release 1 March via Hyperdub