Funk Deepstar has been DJ’ing long enough to have started out spinning on turntables not because of some purist ideal, but because there was nothing else going. Having worked for years to build a solid fan-base, he has managed to translate his strong underground following into the Gauteng area, with the help of his monthly podcast, and guest appearances on internationally acclaimed radio show Deeper Shades of House. More recently, he has secured a partnership with Soul Candi records to release Deep House Chronicles 7: Let’s Play House. Nathan got a chance to quiz him on the digital revolution, the importance of building a brand as a DJ and the release of his new album.
First of all, congratulations on the album release. One of the finest Deep House Chronicles to come out to date. How did the project come together?
The project came together through my podcast Let’s Play House. The first edition of Deep Groove Sessions – Lets Play House was aired on 15 July 2008, more than forty shows have been aired every month in the last three years. The show is a very successful podcast (approximately 60 000 downloads monthly).
Deep House in all its different shades is the main genre focus on Deep Groove Sessions, compiled from brand new music and songs the listeners might not have heard in a while.
I have been receiving requests for doing a compilation by my followers on the show and from my fans. The show has been very succesful, it has been ranked number one in the House music category world wide in November 2011.
I approached Soul Candi and made an appointment with Allan (Kid Fonque). We discussed a few things and after a couple of weeks, he dropped me an email, stating that Soul Candi would like me to do their next DHC!
You’ve been on the scene long enough to have played with the late great DJ Monde; what’s been the key to staying relevant yet so deep? What I mean is, there are so many Deep House DJs who were around when you were starting out who have just disappeared, especially from Pretoria.
I remember playing alongside the late Monde, it was at TNG now TUT at Shoshanguve in 2006. I was the youngest DJ playing that night. When you’re a true pioneer and you really who you are, you can stand the test of time. I can name a few DJ’s from Pretoria that have three or four albums that are still here. That’s not easy to come by. That comes with hard work, great music, determination, dedication and a love for what you’re doing.
You do guest mixes on the DSOH (Deeper Shades Of House) how did that come about?
Yes, so far I have two guest mixes on DSOH. I have been listening to the shows for a couple of years to keep myself informed with the latest Deep House music.
I recorded a mix and followed the protocol on submitting a mix for the show. Lars liked my mixing and track selection, a couple of weeks later my mix was published. I have also been requested by Lars Behnroth as one of a few SA DJs to do guest mixes for the show every three months.
My first mix on the show hit 13283 downloads & the second one hit 14614. Lars always says “Funk DeepStar plays a little different from everybody else, definitely digging for tunes much along the vain of DSOH”. I am now appointed a resident guest DJ for DSOH.
What I have learned and what has worked for me was not putting money first, in life one has to start somewhere and the rest shall follow, building a brand and a profile is vital.
I looked around for venues that suit my style of music and asked venue owners to play opening sets for the nights for free. I launched my own website where I would post mixes and pictures of myself playing at different venues. A lot of people downloaded the mixes, and from my site I was able to be booked across the country without being affiliated with any big record labels.
What do you have in mind when building your set list?
Different people will have different opinions on this I’m sure, but I always try to build up the night. I like to ease people in with some deep vocal but easy going tunes. If I am warming up then I’ll start with some deeper house tunes. I then drop big tunes once the time is right and try and get the floor rocking. I do also drop in a classic tune to get the crowd on my side but I don’t go overboard . I like to play a lot of never heard before tunes and remixes of big ones . I don’t play big tune after big tune as most commercial DJs do; people get tired of them. I always think of what I would like to hear in a club when I am out partying and my favourite DJ is playing.
I don’t usually plan my set ahead, I make sure that I get to the venue atleast forty-five minutes prior to my set to get a feeling of the place and learn the crowd.
If you could resurrect any club/night; where and when and why?
Club 115 down Anderson St JHB, 115 is my personal favourite if I really want to dance and get down, when I was doing sound engineering in Johannesburg this was a chill out place for me. The people down there were friendly and the DJs also had lots of rhythmic music. The phenomenal thing is the crowd would party up until ten am the next morning!
Everyone knows the Deep in Pretoria is unparalleled, what keeps the culture so healthy?
Pretoria is the capital of Deep House, our kind of music is unmatched in any of the cities in the country. That’s why a lot of DJs over here take their trade much more seriously and dig deeper for that exclusive tune. There is a great Deep House community here, every DJ knows everyone and a lot of us are all friends.
INTERVIEW: Nathan Kabingesi