Das Kapital on not needing a schtick, funny dances and his upcoming set at SxRTD2016
Kyle Brinkmann is the DJ, radio DJ, producer and label owner better known as Das Kapital. A Rave Cave old boy and electronic music fan favourite. If you like to chase lazers while you stomp (or perhaps you do a different dance, like one of the moves Das has listed below) then you’ll already know that this young man is the hardest working DJ in the business. Listen to the exclusive mixtape he gifted The Way of Us with and read what’s in store for this year’s Superbalist is Rocking the Daisies after the jump.
Today you’ve made us a mix, but usually, you’re showcasing other DJs mixes on your Sunday night show In Das We Trust on 5FM.
The show has been in the making for many years if I’m honest, so my arrival on 5FM felt like the next logical step on my journey through the radio space. The part about showcasing other artists in the mix is partially true - I feature one guest artist a week, who is usually a producer that inspires me or has some killer releases out at the time. I’ll get them to deliver an exclusive mix for me, to showcase their sound to a South African audience. In five short months, we’ve hosted the likes of NOISIA, Krafty Kuts, Kyle Watson, Dimension, Headroom, Joe Ford and too many to list. It’s kind of special that we’ve been able to pull that off, but at the same time, their belief in the show makes sense to me. Otherwise, all the music on the three-hour show is selected and mixed by me. I want to bring new and unreleased music from around the world to our own radio waves, as well as promote new and exciting South African artists and labels, that would otherwise fly a little under the radar. The platform has really allowed me to take my years of dance radio experience and expand upon them to create a slick, very worldly show, bringing South Africans new music, first. In that sense, it’s akin to a global show on BBC Radio 1 or 1 Xtra, but from a local perspective.
Your single with Kahn from The Parlotones is getting some pretty decent rotation. What’s your take on artist collaborations and who would you like to work with next?
I love working with other artists, but I find I know my creative process working better when I start the project alone. Working with Kahn was an eye-opener for me because I didn’t really know what to expect from someone who had never worked with a dance artist before. In future, I’m going to be making more vocal tracks, but I’m making sure the end product is more collaborative than just phoning in a vocal. I’m creating music with a big focus on story and emotion, rather than throwaway catchy radio fodder.
Then there're the rerubs that you do.
When I was starting out, and finding my feet so to speak, I made “rerubs” to keep myself busy, and to convey how I was feeling at the time. They’re all unofficial bootlegs, that really were about taking songs, and reimagining them as something different – often darker, more introspective. If I had time, I might make some again, but right now there’s too much goodness in the work around me for me to sit back and try to reboot the “rerub”.
Tell us about Do Work Records.
My job in the Do Work structure is a lot of A&R, quality control, and additional studio engineering. We run Do Work as a platform to develop and grow artists, as well as a record label, so part of what I do falls under a sort of “artist manager” badge as well. I make sure the records we sign are up to the international quality we release, by guiding the creative process where needed, and engineering things like vocals and occasionally mixdowns. Being a co-owner of an independent record label means that the job description can be a lot more fluid and complex on any given day, but the ability to be in control of our output is something I wouldn’t want to give up. There are so many incredible artists we’re working with that have me excited. Hendrik Joerges is set to have an incredible 2017 when we finish his new EP. D_Know is killing it on international Techno labels right now. Garcon is getting a lot of love in The Netherlands. I could write 1000 words on the artists we’re working with and what’s next, but the best idea would just be to keep an eye out and trust in the process.
Tell us about your sub-label Sebenza.
SEBENZA is a sub-label born of necessity. I’ve built a huge contacts list of incredible talent over the past few years, and I wanted an avenue to start building and promoting that talent both locally and abroad. International music is sounding increasingly South African at the moment, but we aren’t seeing many South Africans benefitting from that process. SEBENZA is going to take new and established acts from SA and overseas, and pair them up on releases that will be put straight into the hands of DJs everywhere. I want to drive our community to work together, to make independent dance music sustainable and beneficial to everyone involved here. If we can bridge the gap between our music and the rest of the world, then we’ve done our job right.
How daunting is it knowing that other people’s livelihoods rely on your success?
I employ three people full-time but have them work with me rather than for me. Do Work is a family, and a team, before it's a business, so responsibilities and successes are shared. It’s crazy to know there are people that need me to do well in order for them to survive as well, but it’s a motivating factor more than a concern. At 25, I’ve already lasted these years as a professional in the music industry, and by now, my team and I know how to handle any hiccups along the way.
Tell us about your Daisies experience.
This is my fourth time playing Daisies in five years, so I’ve really come to love “The Rave Cave” for what it’s capable of. The structure itself has developed and changed a lot over the years (RIP “The Peanut”, you will be in our hearts forever), but the energy and presence of the stage have remained forward-thinking, diverse, and powerful. When I played in 2014, I had arguably the biggest set on the Friday night and I’m hoping to bring that back this year, with a bigger, more memorable audio-visual performance than I’ve ever done before.
What’s the biggest difference between your club sets and the festival set you’re planning for RTD?
Club sets are really intimate and personal for me, but I try to bring that same personality to my festival sets. I believe in versatility, and that’s the underlying factor in everything I both make and showcase. My set at RTD is going to be a journey through my new music, tracks by people I know and respect, and new music from South Africans, underpinned by a very heavy visual element that is linked to the tracks, to really drive home the moments that need to be driven home.
Visually what are you planning for RTD?
The visuals are going to be custom built around the content of the show, and I’m very involved in the creative direction of that process. There’s a lot of filmed and gathered content that I’m directly involved in because I want to the visuals and the sound to play off each other in a way that makes the intention clear. The show is dark, interspersed with moments of brightness and uplift – It’s a journey, as much as it is a synchronised performance by my VJ and I.
You make music for people to dance to, describe some of the different dances you see from the booth?
Oh jheez, this depends on the situation. There’s the “I’m Leaning My Whole Torso Over The Front Fence And Just Sort Of Rhythmically Pointing”. This one’s popular with the ladies, and the dudes trying to hit on the ladies despite the volume rivaling jet engines on takeoff. There’s the “I’m Wearing Sunglasses And My Dad’s Shirt At 01:00AM So I’m Probably An Art Student On MDMA”. They just sorta stare into the air a lot. Occasionally hold their drink up when you play something vaguely hip-hop inspired. Hand-rolled cigarettes are optional. There’s the “I’m Shirtless Even Though It’s Fu**ing 10 Degrees in the Wind, Mate”. This one’s made easier by shotgunning your whole six pack of low-carb beer at 9PM. There’s the “Hey I Love You, Pull Me On Stage So Me And My Friend Can Awkwardly Gyrate Until Security Tells Us To Piss Off”. Self-explanatory, really. Often these ones are best mates with the “Let’s Just Stay On Snapchat For The Whole Show Instead Of Dancing Because We Have to Show EVERYONE How Much Fun We’re Having Instead Of Actually Having Fun”. Jokes aside, I think people just need to dance and have fun. Doesn’t matter what they look like, as long as they’re feeling the experience.
You don’t really have a thing. Do you ever think of coming up with a mask or some sort of gimmick to add to your sets?
Nope. I’m here to write music, play music, share music, love music. I’m not a meme. I don’t want to be a meme. It might work well for other artists, but I find a lot of these gimmicky DJs are simply masking fundamentally average music with an overplayed schtick. I’m confident in what I create, and I know the people that like what I do appreciate me for it. At the end of the day, I’d fu**ing love people to STOP looking at the DJs altogether and just engage with each other. You’re there to dance and let go of the real world, not watch me deliver a TED talk on the health benefits of “Everybody Fucking Jump”. The reason my performances are powerful is the energy in the music; are the feelings that the music invokes; is the personally curated journey I’m taking the listener on from start to finish. Any and all showmanship I put on top of that is just the icing on the cake.
1. Roog & Dennis Quin - HBSAF (Original Mix) [Simma Black]
2. DJOKO & Thalo Santana - Step The Fuck Back (Original Mix) [Amplified Records]
3. Tchami - SIAW (Original Mix) [Confession]
4. D_Know - Spectrum (Original Mix) [GND Records]
5. Zander & Left/Right - Can't Stop (Eyes Everywhere Remix) [Punks Music]
6. Das Kapital - City Back ft. Robert Neal Jr. (Arcane Youth Remix) [Night Shift Sound]
7. Fearz - Skid Gang (Original Mix) [Booty Call Rec]
8. Clear Six - Sunshine ft. Curtis T Johns (Ryan Blyth) [Get Twisted]
9. Passion Froot - Room 4 One More (Das Kapital Remix) [Obviously Recording]