Your name sounds like you were born into a Japanese family settled in Central Africa three generations ago…[Laughing] I wish! My parents met while studying in Russia. I was born there, then raised partly in Ghana and S.A. Kojo is actually my middle name, it means “born on Monday”.
Have you always been musically inclined?
I’ve always loved noise, as a kid I was always making beats on pots and pans. In ’98 I started collecting casettes tapes; Vinny, Kanunu, Fresh, Glenn Lewis. I was also into the stuff Jazzanova and The Rurals were making
How and when did you get involved in music production?
I’ve always been artistic; drawing, painting. In 2003, I was doing first year I.T. and a friend figured this would translate into music making. He showed me this DAW software he wasn’t able to figure out. I played with it for about two weeks and it all just came together. I started with eJay and FL Studio, initially making hip-hop beats ‘cos that came easiest, but it was inevitable that I started producing House.
And the move to Pretoria, what prompted that?
Music was a big part of the decision. I’d kind of gotten fed up with feeling stifled in Limpopo. People had been encouraging me to make the move and start something; I guess if you never get fed up, you never get anywhere. Plus my fellow Beat Rebelz members (Smiles & Bullfit 1) had moved on to other things in ’08/’09. I never thought that I’d get rich from making music, it’s just one of those things that I happen to be good at.
How did you get involved with Peng Africa?
Darque introduced my music to Andy Compton (Label Head-Peng Africa), and I guess he liked what he heard [laughing]. Andy’s a very smart guy; he’s got such a great vision for his music.
There’s a distinct sound that carries through your productions; if you could describe it in a sentence…
Hmm. I’d call it “aggressive bass lines overlaid with ambient strings, hats and soft chords”. I noticed certain phrases that kept cropping up in my remixes, and that has formed the basis for my style as a producer. I try not to limit myself to a European/South African or whatever House. I’m trying to make music that’s international because I’ve been influenced by music from all over the world.
Do you approach remix duties differently to your own productions?
The process is the same; the end result is the same. The only real difference comes with time pressure; some tracks go from scratch to finished product in a matter of hours, others as much as a month.
Your remix of Miza ft Noluthando’s Feeling is getting a lot of love; did you have any inkling when you finished with it that it would as big a track as it has become?
I wasn’t expecting anything hey, especially considering how long it took to complete the project. For the longest time, my sound was a little alien too for local ears. As Beat Rebelz, we were consciously trying to go against the grain, and I guess Feeling just happened to come out at a time when the average cat on the street was ready to embrace the fruits of that philosophy.
Da Capo, Soulcool, Lele X and Funk DeepStar, Soul-Fortune and yourself among many others, can Pretoria still be considered the S.A capital of House music?[Laughing] Not yet. There’s definitely a lot of talent in Limpopo, but people still need to come out to PTA to make it, you still need to come out here and prove yourself.
Why do you think the Deep culture is so strong in that part of the country?
The stuff coming out of Limpopo is so different to what’s happening elsewhere, and I think a lot of that is because how isolated we were initially, we weren’t as hip to trend shifts as the rest of the country, that gave us the opportunity to make something that was completely our own, whether it’s tribal/ancestral or deep, it’s ours.
S.A house music needs…
Any plans to release an album in the near future?
Not immediately. The Hey E.P will be out in a week or two, so keep a look out for that one.
Kojo Akusa Details