2021-04-20 11:45 AM PDT
Born in Benoni east of Johannesburg in South Africa, Pops Mohamed is said by many to be South Africa’s ‘unofficial minister of music’. In the 90s he began recording the music of the San from the Kalahari in Namibia and integrating it into various projects ranging from jazz and funk to drum ‘n’ bass and trance.
Before turning to traditional sounds, he played the keyboards and guitar with eminent jazz musicians live and in the studio. The end of apartheid was for many of his colleagues a personal relief and a professional setback, since the public then rushed to hear pop-stars streaming in from abroad instead of their own musicians. Pops Mohamed countered by launching himself on an international career which has since led to many tours. At the same time he took more interest in traditional music from all over the world. Fearing that it would vanish in the wake of techno, he wished to have it not only recorded but also suffused with modern sounds and rhythms to appeal to a wider audience. As he put it: ‘If people don't understand where they come from, there is a hole in their soul.’
His nickname Pops dates back to his childhood enthusiasm for the comic seaman Popeye.