Das Kapital: Diversity And Community In EDM

Photography courtesy of Jono Ferreira and Jono Jebus.

Das Kapital has been a staple of the South African electronic music scene for several years and just released Overtime via his label Do Work Records. The album itself is a compilation album featuring all the talent that Das Kapital has signed to Do Work Records. In light of this release, we caught up with Das Kapital to discuss the compilation album, his vision for his label, the nature of EDM music in South Africa and his massive opportunity to open for Knife Party at Rocking The Daisies.

So let’s talk about Overtime first. Dance compilations are a dime a dozen these days and are hardly rare releases. What makes Overtime different, and gives it an edge over the compilations backed by huge EDM labels?

The Do Work team is really hands on with the music we receive. It’s never really as simple as just “oh fix that kick and it’s done” when we’re working on new releases. That’s a big part of the Overtime album.

Sometimes, it takes a few hours to get a track we’re sent to the point that we’re happy with it, and sometimes it’s taken years. We understand that raw talent is nothing without direction, and want to see South African artists (for now) making their mark on the global scene.

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”

I understand that the album was something that had been in the works (mind the pun) for a while now. What led you to finally decide to release this album as opposed to waiting a few more years?

It’s simple – both the music and the audience were ready now.

The tracks we’d held on to and the newer ones both blended together seamlessly. There was never really a fear of the release sounding dated, because of how exciting and unique the productions were. This is a blend of tracks we’ve been keeping secret and brand new records, and I highly doubt anyone would be able to tell me which tracks are which.

Most importantly, the audience in SA is more ready for unafraid, to-the-point club music than they were when we began compiling the album. NOW just felt right.

You mention that Overtime essentially marks a relaunching of the Do Work Records brand. What can we expect from Do Work Records 2.0? Are we going to see an increased involvement within the local dance scene?

Increased involvement – 100%.

Do Work itself is going to be pushing more content out than we have since its inception in 2013, with a bigger focus on making objectively great records that people can hear just easily on a radio and in a nightclub. Our artists are already producing for major labels and big ad campaigns, but it’s time to make more of a visible mark on the industry. We’re looking at music videos, cross-genre collaborations & big singles as the definition of DW2.0.

On that note, what is your vision for Do Work Records, and by extension the South African EDM scene as a whole?

Basically, I want to use my position in the music industry to push and promote South African dance music to the rest of the world, and vice versa. I’m using the Do Work network to allow the world to see South Africa as the musical powerhouse it is, rather than the distant place international DJs or artists might tour once in a while.

The press release for Overtime talks about a sub-label being launched soon. Is there any chance you could give us more details regarding this sub-label and when it might launch?

We’re launching a new sub-label, SEBENZA, to find and promote young South African producers who might not otherwise get the opportunity to be seen. It’s a label that will be focussing more on club releases, drawing on and unifying the network of artists I’ve come into contact with over the past few years. Expect local and international artists, with releases by bigger names and up-and-comers alike. It’s a really exciting project, and I’m really looking forward to seeing that progress over the next few months. I’m finalising a lot of the infrastructure now, but the first releases are already getting signed.

What I really like about this album is that the sounds on the album are incredibly diverse, and not limited to a single genre. Do you think this diversity is something that the local EDM scene needs to start pushing towards? Do you think events need to start featuring much more diverse ranges of EDM as opposed to whatever is popular at the time?

I always tell people that I think diversity is important. Doing the same thing forever is boring, and unfulfilling, so it’s no real surprise that an album from us would be so varied. I would like to see South African artists taking more risks with their music because creative expression doesn’t need to be limited to what you’ve already done a million times before.

As for events, I always think that the most important thing is pushing stuff that makes sense to your audience. IF you’re pushing entirely experimental music, the audience won’t ever really be that big. HOWEVER, if you can find a way to introduce people to new things, whilst still pushing what’s current and exciting, you’re creating a culture with longevity and a wider scope than if you’re just chasing trends.

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You’ve been releasing music professionally for a while now, and your career has survived every trend in the local industry, while other artists have either disappeared or had to completely alter their sound and style to match these trends. How did you stay so steadfast in your sound, and was there ever a time where you considered hopping onto the various trends in EDM?

I think the defining feature of my sound is complexity and change. The reason I’ve never really been seen to follow trends is because I’ve always been inspired by so much music, and create my own unique product out of those inspirations. I don’t want to release songs that sound derivative, or “samey”, but that’s not to say I won’t release something that sounds a little bit “on trend” or “current”.

To be fair, I always wonder if I should just cheese out, and write generic music, because life would be a lot easier that way, but at the end of the day, I’d rather release the records that mean something to me and my fans than make some easily replicated throwaway garbage.

You recently were given your own show on 5FM. What has that whole experience been like and have you learnt anything from it?

Getting the job at 5FM had been many years in the making, so when I got the call, I was really just thankful. It felt like all the work my team and I had put in over the years was validated, in a sense. The biggest things I’ve learnt from the show over the past 4-ish months is that there is a huge need for community within the SA dance scene, and that the world is VERY interested in hearing more from South African musicians – Both of which I am actively pushing for harder than ever, as you can tell.

You’re known for being open and honest, which is pretty rare in our industry, as people tend to get shot down if they express any kind of honest opinion. So let’s be brutally honest – What are your thoughts on the current South African EDM scene and what do you think the scene needs to improve on to better itself?

I think there are some incredibly huge egos rearing their ugly heads right now, especially in the more “mainstream” (hate that term) side of things. A lot of artists are suddenly hot shit and think that gives them the opportunity to act like dickheads. The same could be said for a lot of management and agencies as well.

I think it’s important to note that success is something that has to be maintained, and if the proper measures aren’t taken when you’re in demand, you can easily lose it all when the audience moves on. At the same time, there are a lot more people that are honestly just hard-working, well-meaning creators of cool things, that keep their head down and get the job done.

The easiest advice I can offer to the industry as a whole is this: “Be thankful for those that work with you. Disregard those working against you. Stay humble. Be present in your decision-making. Be aware of the impact and influence you have on those looking up to you, at all times.”

There are conversations going around about how the South African clubbing scene has become complacent and is suffering as a result of that. What are your thoughts on this?

I think things have become ‘easy’ for a lot of artists, but there is also a massive challenge for others. I can certainly see how some producers and DJs feel safe right now, but we all know nothing lasts forever. I trust that the top-tier promoters and artists killing it right now have the foresight to be prepared for whatever comes next. That adaptability is what gives a career longevity.

So this is more of a personal question, but recently a new set of events called Emo Night have cropped up that propose a totally alternative style of DJing to the traditional EDM format. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think SA can stand to benefit from events that tackle DJing in a different way and with a totally different style of music?

At its core, DJing is supposed to be about making people dance. Whether you’re doing that as a club DJ, with intentional blends to create a seamless mix, or as a “selector”, who really throws the mixing party aside to rather just play cool tunes – I’m cool with both.

As long as people are having fun, I see no problems. I only hope people can tell the difference between someone who’s a career DJ and someone just slamming records together for fun, is all.

Finally, you’re opening for Knife Party at Rocking The Daisies this year (so stoked for that). What can we expect from your set and are you looking forward to it?

I’m happy the lineup times are out because I’ve been sitting on that info for a while!

I always try bringing something special to the table when I play Daisies, and this year is probably going to be my biggest set at the festival to date. I’m putting together a custom audio-visual show, with new loads of new music to debut. It’s a crazy slot, between OPIUO and Knife Party, so I’m going to have to really step up and push myself harder than ever to deliver something phenomenal. I want to make sure people leave the Electro Dome at 4AM on Saturday morning, and remember every detail of my set for weeks. That’s the plan.

 

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  1. Pingback: 15 Acts You Do Not Want To Miss At Superbalist Is Rocking The Daisies - SA Music Scene

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