Wear it like a Medalby Mahala High Five Brigade / 13.06.2013
At only 22, Das Kapital (Kyle Brinkmann to his mates) has been taking hold of the Cape Town music scene, simply by following his instincts. When Mahala tried to get hold of him his agent told us ‘he has been quite nocturnal recently, so I’m not sure if he is awake or asleep right now’. But young Kyle finally woke up and answered some questions about how his mom’s singing influenced his music, his upcoming tour to the UK and how emotional cues ‘sound wanky’ but are worth paying attention to.
MAHALA: Who is Das Kapital? Tell us something we can’t read on your facebook?
DAS KAPITAL: Das Kapital is the alter ego of an extremely sarcastic 22 year old, living out his long extinguished dreams of being a rapper vicariously through writing electronic music; often for club-goers.
Do you prefer playing at festivals or in clubs? Huge crowd or intimate space?
Both are really different, so to pick one would be tough.
Playing to a festival crowd puts you up on a pedestal (literally, more often than not), where you are a lone speck, in control of the physical and emotional experience of a throbbing mass of people – as of yet, I have only experienced that sense of unity at festivals; you can really take an entire to the same places with the music, metaphorically.
Clubs are personal – you can see exactly who’s there, who’s loving it and who’s hating it. It’s easier to gauge what people want, and more demanding in that sense, but nonetheless that personality is great.
How did you get into music?
My parents always played me a lot of music growing up. My dad was a radio DJ on Good Hope FM until just after I was born in 1991, and has a ridiculous ability to retain musical knowledge. My mom always sang (and continues to) around me, so I was exposed to pitch and harmony.
I don’t understand how, but I somehow took those two aspects of my parents and learnt them, so to speak, without any real formal training (beyond a few months of piano when I was 10).
I’ve never really been able to explain it, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want music to be a key part of my life.
Earliest musical memory?
My dad playing Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, driving through suburban Pinelands.
When was your first big gig? When did you look up from the decks and think ‘yup, I am rocking this right now’?
My first real show was during the FIFA World Cup 2010 at Fiction, Cape Town.
My first real “big” show was playing before Niskerone, also at Fiction (pre-renovation). It took me 10 minutes to squeeze out the dancefloor because I’d sufficiently entertained the crowd, and Niskerone’s just that good as well.
That was also the day I met Niskerone and Sibot properly, if memory serves.
Do you notice a difference between the Joburg crowd and the Cape Town crowd?
They’re definitely different, but I believe that’s down to their expectations of a night out.
With Joburg, the fact that I’m playing is a novelty, not a norm, so I can be a lot more surprising or experimental (or completely wrong and have to rethink my music choices hah) – that makes it a lot more off the cuff and spontaneous.
However, Cape Town will always be where I feel most comfortable and at home.
Which is your favourite tattoo?
In all honesty, they all are very significant to me.
If I could only keep one, it’d be the chest piece. It’s weird (most people wouldn’t find velociraptors and a Mexican sugar skull to be the most related objects), and I went through a metric fuckton of pain to get it to this point, but it has a lot of symbolism worked into the detail, so I wear it like a medal.
Do you feel powerful when you are playing?
When the connection between me and the crowd is there, yes. Without that sense of knowing what they want, or with the feeling that nothing you can give them is actually what they want, it can be really disheartening and scary.
The aim is to be powerful, I guess – to make people want more of what you have to give them, even if neither you nor the crowd is sure what that is just yet.
How do you wind down after a set?
I cool off. Have a cigarette. Check my messages and emails. Then I find my friends, grab a Jägermeister or a drink and take the night from there.
What time do you wake up in the morning?
This depends on what I’m working on, or how much I’m working on.
When I’m in a good, functional cycle, up at 8:30AM, working by 9.
When I’m “dysfunctional”, I sleep when I can and wake up whenever I have to.
Have your parents ever come to a gig you’ve played at?
My mom has not, because she maintains she needs to get her “party-going” body back first.
My dad has seen me play three times, I think. He still listens to dance music so it’s a lot easier than it could be.
How do you find new music? Do you spend a lot of time looking through music on the Internet?
When I hunt hard for new music, it’s mostly local, or extremely odd.
I’m lucky to be on a lot of great promo lists because of my radio show on Assembly Radio and the connections I’ve made with producers through my music – this takes a load off, because I know I’m getting music from artists I like, which is augmented by the fact I’m getting most of them weeks or months before they hit Beatport or iTunes.
Otherwise, I do my best to find new music every few days because I hate playing monotonous shows or primarily one genre.
Do you think being so young makes you more in touch with what a club crowd wants?
Logically, it should, but I expect more than just “dancefloor sensibility” from the music I make and play.
If I were to create and curate what most people my age want, I’d be playing uplifting prog house sets with “wooah-ooh-oh” vocals, or generic American Dubstep, maybe.
Being 22 means I have time to fine tune the ability to make my peers want club music they haven’t heard yet.
How long do you play with a remix before you are happy with how it sounds? What’s the process?
In an ideal situation, a few days. My fastest turnaround was a day, entirely finished. I do like the ability to go back after a day or so to finally retweak flaws I was ignoring the first time round.
If it’s a vocal remix, I tend to start there, writing new harmonies and melodies that often flip the mood of the song (so, if the original was major, I’ll play the minor and vice versa).
I remove the stems I don’t need, often basses or weird instrumentation, and timestretch them to a BPM that suits the style of remix I’m going for. I put hours of work into my drums because groove and percussion are a big part of my music, and I begin laying out a rough structure.
The rest of the process is very much down to emotional and sonic cues (wanky, yet true) – I try and create soundscapes that change between dense and full, and sparse and subtle, which ultimately evokes responses from the listener. I kinda just wing it, colouring in a blank canvas until it feels complete.
Then it’s off to the A&R, artist manager or the artist themself for the nod, and off to mastering.
Then I wait.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Rick Rubin. Faithless (pre-Weapons of Mass Destruction). Everything I heard before I turned nine.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Right now it would be MNEK, UZ, Emperor, and in a pop sense, any top 40 charting US Hip Hop act (because I spent my teens aspiring to be The Neptunes or Timbaland).
What next for you?
I’m helping put together a full length album of South African dance music for my record label, Do Work Records.
We’re also finalising a country-wide tour for August and September, and I’m aiding in the final steps of a few EPs from veritable Wunderkinde due out this year too.
I’ve just wrapped a remix for William Orbit, am starting on a remix of New Young Pony Club’s new single, and am attempting to get some new original stuff done for some international labels and my own.
It’s a lot to juggle, but the feeling of creating something you can give to people outweighs any frustration or stress.
You’re going over to the UK to play at The Secret Garden Party and NASS – how do you feel about that? Is it your first international tour?
I am stupidly nervous to be on stage with some of the artists I’ve been listening to from before I had even considered DJing, but I’m excited to take new music over, made by me, the talent on my label, and in the South African dance scene in general.
It should make for an interesting, if not horizon-expanding first tour.
What can the crowd at the Puma Social Club expect from you this Friday?
This is the place where the artist would normally say something either overly enthusiastic, or unbearably dry, right?
Truly? The crowd can expect some fun music. Old, new, whatever. Where I start is not where I’m ending, and I look forward to exploring some cool tracks, with their help.