Interview: Culoe de Song
The young, gifted, world traveling twenty something from South Africa Culoe de Song is something of a wonder in the world of electronic music.
Originally brought on via Black Coffee‘s Soulistic Music imprint, Culoe de Song has since developed an enviable back catalogue of studio work, as well as having graced the stage of some of the world’s finest club, festivals, and events. His Afro-tinged take on electronic music has been heard on labels like Innervisions, Kompakt, Mule Musiq, as well as on Soulistic and his own De Song Music.
On 10 November London’s The Steelyard will see &ME and Adam Port, two of the core members of Berlin’s Keinemusik imprint, joined by Culoe De Song. Here, we anticipate this rare London club appearance from Culoe by catching up on the current state of South Africa’s scene, his impressions on the Keinemusik family, London, and more.
“We are Universally designed to progress through helping each other”
On 10 November you will be joining the Keinemusik duo of &Me and Adam Port at London’s The Steelyard. This will be something of a select date for you in London. Up to now, what have your experiences like playing in London?
London has a classic house scene and an intense crowd. I love the raw class of that situation, always a pleasure playing in London, arguably one of the bigger music scenes in the world.
Aside from nightlife activities, what are some London activities/places that you like to go when there? Any favorite restaurants, for example?
I love the idea of walking around Selfridges to see how I can waste some hard earned money :-) … I like the idea of circulating money through precious arts in and around fashion and music. So some Piccadilly walks will probably happen.
Talk a bit about the atmosphere with Keinemusik. How do you find this relatively tight knit group of artists to complement your own creative approach?
I love their work. I played with them in Berlin and it was special. I love that raw spirit of a passionate genius they possess. Liberals doing what they love and have a great impact on people. Beautiful.
Speak a bit on the current South Africa scene. I have read that per population, it ingests House Music more than any other nation on Earth. Do you think this is a true statistic?
Yes. South Africa has drawn a lot of inspiration from dance and disco records of the old era. Mixed with local flavor, you get genres like kwaito. It’s like house or down tempo with vernacular slang lyrics. So you find that whether it’s local hip hop, kwaito or new wave, it has a big house ancestry to it.
What were your first introductions to House Music while growing up? What was your first turntable setup?
I was introduced to house through house compilations released by local big DJs. My turntable setup was an old radio hifi system I found in the dump. I dubbed whatever that was playing on the radio that I loved. Most of it was late night house mixes. Got exposed to a lot of international records through this, Dj Gregory, Masters At Work, Ame, Osunlade … the list goes on.
What does South Africa still need in order to truly make it a center for Dance Music at an International level?
South African scene is very diverse. Different genres in one Festival is a norm. But in respect to the electronic or house scene, I’d say South Africa needs like it’s own international inferno like a BPM festival of some sort, where masses of enthusiasts from around the world can come through and enjoy sounds on our horizon. Specifically for the culture.
What are some South African artists that people around the world need to know about? Anyone that you think is on the verge of a breakout year? Why?
There’s a Producer by the name of Mr Joe. His music is a product of Zulu Aliens that migrated to the cosmos or vice versa. Some psychedelic shit that takes you on a trip from Zululand to mars in a beat per steak well done. Lol. His music is killing the dance floors everywhere I play. The world is calling for more of his music!
Are you involved with any charitable or philanthropic organizations specifically based around creative work? Do you feel that being involved in such activities is something most artists and creative should be so? What are some issues and causes that are important to you?
I love the idea of giving in general!!! That’s what makes the world beautiful! We are Universally designed to progress through helping each other just like how body cells work together to keep the body at a operational level. I want to start my own organization soon. When I turned 25, I decided to buy 25 meals and went on road trip around Joburg city to give homeless people some food and it was the best feeling ever and it made me realize that our purpose is beyond ourselves. Now I don’t wait for my birthday to do this, random acts of kindness have become a part of my second nature. I wanna take this same spirit and apply it through the art world as I grow in life and in my international career. At the moment I just help where I can be most effective. Giving does something to your creative spirit too and it’s always positive. I highly encourage this to all my fellow artists around the world.
With summer and ADE behind us, and with a new year ahead, how can you gauge your 2017 in the scope of your career?
2017 was full of growth! I toured unlike ever before and I’ve developed and matured the travel life throughout the years. I’m learning everyday and I’m aware that I’m not a robot. Lol. I’m looking forward to an even bigger year next year with some new music and a great summer season!
Speaking of the year, had you developed any new tricks to maintain your (mental) health and mindfulness whilst touring heavily? Is there any process you have to “wind down” after a particularly long, hectic touring schedule?
I consume a lot of water and I’ve realized that nothing beats actual rest. Setting up some time to switch off from the world and take care of Self. I pray a lot more and exercise more gratefulness. Meditation has kept me grounded and I’m still a student. I’ve learnt to navigate through pressure. You have to be calm like seating in a Boeing while it’s moving through turbulence at great speeds. It’s something you constantly have to work on.
10 November | Labyrinth presents Keinemusik: &ME, Adam Port, Culoe de Song | Tickets | The Steelyard