South Africa is a House nation. For as long as House music has been around, the southern African nation, has adopted the genre in its own unique sonic aesthetic and contributed its fair share to the further development of House music through artists like Black Coffee and Culoe de Song.
Nicodimas Sekheta Mogashoa (aka Da Capo) is the next in a long line of DJs and producers to take the sounds of House and present them in a very unique afro-centric dialect, incorporating elements from regional musical flavours like Kwaito in their sounds.
Originally from Polokwane, a city a stone’s throw away from the epicentre of House music, Johannesburg, Da Capo’s career starts in the bedroom as a self-taught producer. While Hip Hop lured a young Mogashoa over to computer music, it would through House music that he would make his mark in music. He had found an early affinity for the genre, and combining it with the rhythms of regional sounds with a deep soulful vision.
Under the sage guidance of Black Coffee and Canadian House veteran and DNH Records proprietor Nick Holder, Da Capo developed his own sonic signature in the genre. Holder provided the platform for his first record, Deeper Side, on the back of which he and long-time collaborator Punk Mbedzi launched two very successful careers and the label, Surreal Sounds.
From those first bass-heavy dub House tracks like Deep Side to the more organic sounds of his Ki Lo Fe, Da Capo’s sound is diverse and he is able to adapt to a wide range of styles. An adept remixer his remixes like Freshly Ground’s Nomthandazo, had won him many plaudits early on his career, and he caught the ear of established House artists like Louie Vega, who became early fans of his prodigious music talent.
In 2014 he released his debut LP, collaborating yet again with Punk for a compilation of tracks featuring the two label partners and mixed by Dj Swizz. Shortly after Da Capo signed to Black Coffee’s label, Soulistic music, following in the shadow of his idol to carve out his own unique imprint on the parchment of South African House music history.
We caught up with Mogashoa before his visit at Jæger as part of the Oslo World music festival.
Hello Da Capo and thanks for taking the time to talk to us. I’m curious about where your interest in House music started. Can you tell us a bit about earliest House memories and what got you started on the path of a career as a House music DJ and producer?
It all started on a high school trip where one of my friends was requested to play a mix on the bus and I heard this song Franky Boisy & Kwame – Everybody wants to rule the world. It blew my mind away that’s where I started collecting mp3s and house compilations, I was more of a hip hop producer fan and producer, but then since… well I didn’t see my vision as a rapper or producer, I fell in love with house then I started producing it. It literally stole my heart.
I know that Khasi Mp3 and the taxis were influential in bringing House music to the mainstream in South Africa, but where were you getting your music from and where did you go to listen and eventually play House music?
I grew up in that society where taxis played a huge role but I wasn’t inspired by that, my inspiration comes from a couple of friends I used to study with at high school who would talk about exclusive deep house music everyday on free periods and we would share music on Bluetooth. I wasn’t really much of a party goer because I was young at the time, I only enjoyed my space by making music alone in my room until there came a point where I had to deejay which came after years later.
You grew up in Polokwane which is quite a small town in SA standards. How do you think that affected your music as opposed to the people coming through in a bigger city like Johannesburg?
I lived in an era where the internet was very useful, so for music to reach the masses it wasn’t much of a struggle, I had fans and played in Polokwane already before I played in Johannesburg but the market is more bigger in Johannesburg because it’s the centre of all cities, for every artist to sustain their career it is the city to be.
Do you still live in Polokwane and what’s the music like coming out of that region at the moment?
I actually moved to Johannesburg haha. I think a lot of us moved there because that’s where the demand and opportunity is. And the music is quite different in Polokwane because there are new artists that have emerged and which have a different sound to what we have been making years back.
From what I’ve read about you, Black Coffee had an instrumental role in your musical education. How did you meet him and how did he help and influence you in the beginning?
Black Coffee played a huge role in a lot of upcoming musicians including me, his music had a whole dynamic shift in the Afro scene. I was inspired by the sounds to polish my production. We officially met at a gig years earlier before I joined his stable Soulistic music and from there we started sharing ideas in terms of production and deejaying as well.
I know Nick Holder has also played a fundamental part in your career. What were the origins of that relationship and how did he help motivate your career further?
Nick Holder is the first ever artist to recognize Da Capo, we met on social media at that time he requested we send him my music. He only heard my music the day we sent it to him then 3 days later he released my EP under his label dnh music, he pushed my music to the international market and the local market too, that’s were people recognized my artistry.
Your music has this obvious connection to South Africa, and I specifically pick up rhythms from Kwaito in a track like Kelaya. But there’s also this European and US influences ebbing through it. How much did music from outside of SA influence you?
House music that dominated in the times when I feel in love with it was international house music. It was on every compilation and to this day I recommend some of the selections as classic music, it totally played a huge role in my music career.
I grew up in South Africa and I often go back, and I’m always surprised how little people value music from the country. The DJs I know there can’t really play stuff from home. What’s your experience with playing homegrown music there?
In my experience I think they do value music from here, it’s just that there’s a variety of markets, different sub genre and people tend to like different type of music and each of them have different followers and they all appreciated it.
I was watching your Ibiza HQ mix and there you’re able to play that kind of thing. I find European audiences are more open to that sound. Do you adapt your set playing in Europe as opposed to South Africa?
To be honest it’s very hard to adapt. Europe, it’s a very open market and SA is not so open, but you have to have followers and places that admire your craft, that’s when you can jam to whatever you like.
What are some of your favourite places to play back home?
Kitcheners bar (Braamfontein), Republic of 94 (Braamfontein), 033 lifestyle (Pietermaritzburg), Black coffee Block Party ( Newtown), Spring fiesta (Boksburg).
You‘re also part of the label, Surreal Sounds with Katlego Swizz. Can you tell us a bit more about the origins of the label and some of the ideas behind it?
Surreal sounds was a label formally formed by myself and Punk Mbedzi then we included acts such as Katlego Swizz to run management and at a later stage we decided to do a joint venture with Soul Candi records, until there came a point we parted ways and we all ventured in new careers and visions.
Is there anything on the Da Capo music front that you’re eager to share with us?
I’m currently working on the Indigo Child part 2 and unleashing a beast within Da Capo which is Aqautone dropping an EP early 2019.