WORDS & PHOTOGRAPHS: CHELSEA HAITH
Living up to his German roots with a bleached blonde mop, short undercut and pale skin offset by an all black attire and a cigarette, Das Kapital looks like he’s just stepped off the plane from Berlin instead of Cape Town. However, this SA export says he doesn’t plan on leaving Sunny SA any time soon, despite the fact that his latest release City Back / Callin’ Dub EP was produced and released by Manchester, UK based label Night Shift Sound just last week and he’s currently producing for a super-secret Dutch label.
Kyle Brinkmann, which is what his mum calls him when he’s in trouble, drinks Black Label, smokes Marlboros and would rather be at home playing the new PS4 he bought himself last week. But work is work and DJing is the big money maker right now, which makes the creative stuff, like actually writing and arranging music, possible.
While on the road Das Kapital made time to have a beer and a smoke with Archetype to talk about communism, his label Do Work Records and the hottest club music in South Africa today.
Archetype: Why did you choose what is arguably the most important Marxist text as your DJ pseudonum? Are you a communist?
Das Kapital: Thank you for being the first interviewer to ask that question without first asking what my name means. I chose it when I was eighteen when I was starting out DJing. I couldn’t read fiction books anymore just because they seemed really contrived. From that point on I was only reading philosophical texts, political texts, economic texts. I’d done a lot of bridging courses for philosophy during highschool and that ruined attempting to do philosophy 101 in university.
So yeah, I’m half German, and I thought, let’s go with Karl Marx, it’s a good one. And I suppose there’s a stupid joke in there about it being ‘music for the people’ the irony also being that it’s my job and I live in a capitalist system so I’m making money off of being a guy named after the quintessential book on Communism. But no, I’m not a communist, funnily enough. I believe in the free market economic system, it looks good on paper, but then everything looks good on paper. Even communism.”
A: How did your label Do Work Records come about?
DK: The original concept originated in 2012 between my manager Tim Medcraft and myself. The Free Trades and the All Trades EPs were the projects that came out of that, that’s what BrainBang came off and those are the EPs that got me playlisted, and got people hyped for me.
Those are the EPs that got me to the UK to pay there. South Africans just need to wake up sometimes to see what’s going on right under their noses. SO it started from those two projects and then it lay dormany for a while, but through being engaged and picking up new artists I kept pushing them on to Tim. He’s older than I am so he knows a lot more than me, being a publisher. Some of them we co-manage now.
I’m there on the ground, helping with music, arrangements, keeping things relevant to what’s going on now without stifling creativity. The label is like a family, like a network almost, of artists that we’ve signed. It’s about creating a community, steering young DJs in the right direction, so it’s about creating a family more than about making shit hot records.
A: Who are you most excited about now?
DK: At this moment in time there is a young guy in Durban called Hendrik Joerges. He’s fresh out of high school and I stumbled on him through SoundCloud, there’s this little network of Durban producers and they’re all exceptional in their abilities but they need guidance. It’s a common problem with young producers, you can make it sound amazing but you can’t structure a song. He was 17 when I played one of his test tracks, and I took him with me to the Durban Electronic Music Festival (DEMF) and that was the first time he’d been in a nightclub. It doesn’t have to be super formulaic, but there needs to be a degree of structure in order for it to work on the dance floor. If you don’t follow that rough outline, people are going to feel really off put by that and people aren’t going to be ready for things when they do happen.
His talent is maturing. His sound is maturing. He was writing progressive house and electro when we found him and he’s still doing that now but he’s drawing a lot more from what’s going on in the world, so he’s got a UK edge to it without sounding like Deep House. It doesn’t sound like everything you’ve heard on the radio. It’s edgy, it’s hard, at times. It’s very well produced, very clean. He’s arguably the most promising electro house producer in the country and that’s why we signed him.
A: How do you feel about the interconnections in the South African music industry?
DK: I could just as easily have a conversation with Matthew Mole as I could with Niskerone, there’s a great sense of camaraderie, which is why we’re all working together. I’m doing something with PHFAT now, I was remixing unofficial tracks of theirs years ago so it’s nice how that’s come full circle.
A: How do you feel about the club and DJ scene in South Africa?
DK: It’s become so easy to become a DJ, it’s just downloading some software and buying a piece of hardware, if that, or you load some music onto USBs because now all clubs have the stuff that we used to have to fight the big clubs to buy. And now everyone has that stuff which breeds an unnecessary horrible arrogance among a lot of the young kids. I was opinionated when I started out, I was the new kid on the block when there were no new kids on the block and I was fucking taken down for it by a lot of people, and a lot of people said shit about me. You either hated me or you loved me, you backed me or you didn’t. And now, everyone feels like they’re owed something, so whereas I learnt to calm down and give respect where it was due kids come out and think they can pull a big crowd because they have inbuilt crowds of their mates which they think means they can charge more than someone like Grimehouse who has been influential to the scene. People are slandering guys left right and centre when they haven’t really cut their teeth, so that’s a problem.
A: What can people expect from the EP that’s just come out?
DK: If people don’t know what to expect that’s probably the way you’d describe my DJ sets. I’m definitely not psy-trance, that’s the one thing you can tag, put NOT PSY-TRANCE above my head but yeah, it’s kind of everything. I believe in the broader scope of music, I draw on a shit load of influences and this release is for a UK label, I’ve remixed for them in the past. They’re a new label and I wrote them the most UK EP I could think of at the time. It’s House, the A-side is very jacking house, it’s like people throwing shapes on the dance floor kind of tune, stereotypes of that kind of house, but done my way. The B-side is a lot more tasteful, introspective, a slow burning tune instead of whhooop, pshhhh, psshpp. It’s flowy. The title track City Back features Robert Neal Jnr and he is an American funk vocalist and a spoken word poet that I’m a huge fan of. The feedback from DJs has been unbelievable, getting played by people that I never would have imagined and great guys.
That does not mean that this is what I’m going to be releasing foreseeably because the track that I’m finishing up now is for a Dutch label, it’s more of a VIP (a Variation In Production) so while it might sound similar to the original and the structure might sound similar, it’s its own track. But it’s very hard, bouncy, interesting and very aggressive.
A: What’s next?
DK: After that I’m doing high-energy 140bp African music with a guy from America and you know, it’s about constantly reinventing myself. But I’m focussing myself in as vague a way as I can, you know, it’s club music, even if I do a chilled mix, it’ll be a chilled club mix. People can expect me to sound better than I’ve ever sounded before.