We embarked on a marathon interview with DJ Aero Manyelo of Herbal 3 Record

Eric Manyelo AKA DJ Aero Manyelo is quickly establishing himself as a strong brand in the music industry. He is a DJ, Producer, Composer and Record label boss. He was born in Zebediela in Limpopo Province and moved to Tembisa, East of Johannesburg when he was five. His music career started when he was just seven years old. After completing grade 12 and struggling to finance his further studies, he decided to get a job in order to earn the funds to enroll in his dream course. While at work in a retail shop one day, he received a call that changed his life − Soul Candi Institute of Music were offering him a bursary to study for a diploma in Advanced Sound Engineering. “Regardless of the financial constraints one of the things that I want people to take into consideration is that they must have positive self-esteem. I know that my journey to the top will only come from hardworking and dedication to my studies, work and being pro-active”, says Manyelo.

He has worked with Mash.O, Oluhle, Ntira, Oskido, Mono T, Sugar House (Greece), Leva Meksraityte (UK), Wunmi (USA) and Teki Letex (France) just to name few. “I love and live for music as it allows me to be myself and stretch my mind.” He credits his two-year bursary at Soul Candi for sharpening his production skills and introducing him to established talents, like Oskido − “He calls me and he wanted to feature one of my track called Mexican girl on his album.”

In addition to Oskido, Aero gained inspiration from Booka Shades and Ryan Murgatryd in terms of business and music. “I didn’t give up my dream because of financial woes, but obstacles made me more determined to succeed. I know that success is not going to be handed to me on a silver platter, but I have to work hard and hard work really pays off.” His ravenous zeal for music is slowly paying off and his lack of money never represses this talented musician. Today DJ Aero is the proudly owner of Herbal 3 Records which released a smash album by Mash.O, Drum Herbalist.

In August 2012, he was touring France, England, Germany and Switzerland with the ‘Kasi Vibes’ tour. Kasi Vibes is also the name of the album Herbal 3 Records released together with the German label OUTHERE RECORDS in April 2013. “Aero Manyelo – Kasi Vibes” is available on iTunes.

“The best part of the tour was me playing at the same Festival with the likes of Ame, Phonique and other top European music composers. I grew up listening to their music [and] being at the same festival with them is something else. The Fusion Festival is attended by more than 60,000 people every year [and] playing for that crowd was also amazing,” says Manyelo.

“I’ve learned that most of my songs that I released in 2009 are still playing that side. Some of the songs made this tour possible. I had a lot of people asking me about ‘Mexican Girl’, for example, which was released in 2008 on Oskido’s 7th Commandment album. It is really amazing how music takes time to reach other continents – thanks to the Herbal 3 Records team for their hard work,” added Aero.

“I also need to put more effort in my sound quality, in terms of mastering and mixing. Europeans take sound quality very serious – your song can be nice but if the sound quality is weak, then it is a problem. They might end up not playing your song in clubs or radio or any other place. Sound quality is very important. First of all, be humble at the border – they might reject your entry if you are big-headed. When it comes to performing, be yourself – you are there because they love your work, so do it like you do it here at home. No need to change. The more natural you are, the better performance you will give. And be prepared for people asking you about Nelson Mandela.

I would really like to thank Spoek Mathambo, Crazy White Boy, Ryan Murgatroyd, DJ Mujava etc. who paved a way for guys like us to be recognized in the European market. The Kasi Vibes tour was a success and after the tour my Europe agent was getting a lot of booking requests so I did another tour in October 2013 to late November 2013. Between those dates I also played in France (at a digital arts and modern music centre they call LaGaîté Lyrique) for a concert sponsored by the South African National Art Council, called ‘SHARP SHARP JOHANNESBURG’,” says Aero.

“My future plan is to grow Herbal 3 Records and open doors to upcoming DJs, producers, vocalists and composers. I’ve learned the music business, like how to protect my music, market it and how to make money.” Between building and marketing Herbal 3 Records and signing fresh new Djs and producers, he does not miss out on recording. He released an album for Soul Candi Institute of music (SCIM) and his mixes are currently playing on international Internet radio.

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