For an artist who calls the world his stage, Cape Town holds a special place in the heart of Africa’s proudest electronic music export. The Mother City is, after all, where it started for Black Coffee, all those years ago.
The 41-year-old DJ and producer is now a business mogul and world famous brand, but more than 14 years ago, at the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy, Black Coffee seized his chance at greatness.
Speaking during his second residency at Cape Town’s famous Shimmy Beach Club, Black Coffee has fond memories of the Mother City, and loves visiting.
“Cape Town is a very special place. It has a certain energy for me. I was here recently for a week with my kids, and I was telling them about the power of the mountain. This is where we all come to draw strength – at the bottom of the continent. There’s always a beginning for me. I’ve started big things from here,” he says.
In 2003, Black Coffee was chosen as one of two South Africans to join the Red Bull Music Academy, kick starting a career that would touch every continent on the globe and endear him to millions of dance music fans. Along the way, his work and collaborations have garnered numerous awards.
“My first residency in this country was here in Cape Town (at Shimmy Beach Club), among the most beautiful people. They’re here for the music, from different parts of the world. You can only find that in Cape Town. In 2016, I played in Cape Town for the switching on of the city’s Christmas lights. That was the biggest crowd I’ve ever played for. It’s a very special place.”
The Mother City is also the party capital of the continent according to Black Coffee. It’s up there with the best in the world, he says.
“Cape Town is inspired by the world. The standards are of the same, and the crowd that comes in understands how this works. It is that future that Nelson Mandela wanted. If you look at the crowd, the diversity is very rare. I play everywhere but when I come to Cape Town you find all kinds of people in one place. It’s the most beautiful thing.”
Black Coffee looked back on a spectacular year of personal and professional growth, even by his 2016 standards – a year which saw him perform at Coachella music festival, scoop two major South African Music Awards, a BET Award and claim the coveted Best Deep House DJ at the prestigious DJ Awards.
In 2017, he defended his Best Deep House DJ title and established the Black Coffee brand as one of the biggest drawcards in Ibiza.
“The Hi residency was a huge challenge. A lot could have gone wrong. It’s a big club, in the heart of Ibiza. Five thousand people are there every night. My style of music was an unknown brand in Europe, and it was a big task and it worked out. I think it’s the highest achievement for me in the past year.”
Not one to shy away from a challenge, he stayed true to himself, trusted his instinct, honed over years of studying music and working with greats in the industry. And the results were ground-breaking. “What I wanted to do was bring the music element on the island. That’s where clubbing comes from. Back then songs that were released, were just songs, vocals, melodies and messages. Over the years R&B became very techno and instrumental, and dub. I felt there was a gap that was missing. People still wanted to hear the vocals and experience the colour and beauty. I went straight for that. People connected with it, and it worked out.”
Black Coffee’s plans for 2018 have already taken off in fine style. This week he revealed a world-class residency in the United States, following a stellar European residency at Hi Ibiza. He will play Wynn Las Vegas, one of the most sought-after venues in the City of Lights.
The rest of his plans for 2018, while knocking out the lights in Vegas, include returning to Ibiza and working on a new album, the single for which is likely to hit our airwaves around April or May. “We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing, man. When we’re in Ibiza we’ll continue with the tour. It’s back to work.”