“There are moments in your life that throw up key meetings,” says DJ, broadcaster and record label founder Gilles Peterson. Moments where a human connection can change someone’s destiny.
That liminal instant, when a dream is about to become a reality, was the inspiration for Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet, the latest watch from the Swiss haute horlogerie manufacturer.
When Peterson met Skinny Pelembe, a rising young artist looking for his big break, he recognised that 11.59 moment. "I hadn't gone into that restaurant thinking to offer you a deal. I just thought 'Let's go and chat, and see what you're up to.' And that moment was… perfect," he says.
In his constant quest to find and create new musical experiences, Peterson looks to push boundaries while respecting the ways of the past – an approach to creativity that Audemars Piguet has long embraced as its own.
"I've never really fitted into a particular sound or box," says Peterson, who recognised another free spirit in Pelembe, describing his music as "genre fluid" – something the musician is quick to acknowledge. "Maybe it would be easier if it were this kind of act, or that kind of act, but why should it be easier?” says Pelembe. “It shouldn't be easier, it should be a labour of love."
Pelembe’s work draws in influences as diverse as psychedelic rock, soul and drum & bass. A multi-instrumentalist who plays around with production and MCing to create a lush, layered and unique sound, he proved hard to place, and he’d been struggling to be heard for several years before he came to the attention of Gilles Peterson.
Peterson’s drive to seek out unique artists and bring them to a discerning public can only succeed because of the deep respect he holds within the industry, something he has earned for his decades of work and research. These principles and vision are shared by the minds behind the Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection, who pursue and foster human talent to consistently push haute horlogerie to new heights, while maintaining a deep appreciation for tradition.
And with an uncompromising commitment to quality.
"It got very easy to go around the planet with a USB stick, but for me that was a little bit empty. And in the last few years a love for craft is why I think live music's become so much more popular, because it's something that you can't just get an app for. You have to spend the hours on it. It's an art form," says Peterson.
It's a drive for precision shared by Skinny Pelembe – "If you leave me on my own in my house, I'll be there for a week until I've got the right high hat sound. I don't know why you would compromise with any part of trying to put together music."
But it was when Pelembe took the stage at the 2018 Worldwide Festival in Sète that Peterson witnessed that moment when musical virtuosity collided with a certain star quality. “I'd seen you several times, and that was the first time I actually heard you and saw you confident with swagger. And not caring really what people thought about you.”
“And that one performance, for me, was like – right. He’s bona fide.”