Born in the northern parts of South Africa’s east coast, Culolethu Zulu, also known as Culoe De Song, has enjoyed an ever-growing reputation as a party-starting DJ and producer, infusing the world of house with his own rhythms and style. We caught up with him recently to chat about mixing the latest Watergate compilation, where he drew inspiration from for the mix, how the scene in South Africa is perceived around the globe and a whole load more.
It felt great! It's an honor! It's another platform for me to spread my home brewed sound even further...How did you feel when you were asked to record the next in the series of the legendary Watergate mix series?
It felt great! It's an honor! It's another platform for me to spread my home brewed sound even further. The greats like Kerri Chandler have done it too, so it's amazing to join the legacy tree. I'm humbled!
What's the vibe you've gone for on this mix? What can listeners expect?
It's a trip! From the night time fruits right into the frosty morning blues! It's a well-balanced experience of frequencies. Like a well-made hamburger. You get to feel what it's like in my perception of clubberland and ride in my daytime dreams!
Where did you draw your creative inspiration from when crafting this mix? What did you use to inspire you?
There's nothing bizarre when it comes to the inspiration behind this mix. This mix is simply tuned in to a frequency I'm vibrating in at the moment. As a global artist, I've picked up different vibes and formed a certain texture. The tracks that I picked, mostly South African, had the same texture! It's crazy, because some of the artists that I've chosen have never operated outside the country, but they can connect with the rest of the world through sound. Truly universal!
You've included a number of unheard tracks of your own for this; can you tell us a bit more about those please?
I've been playing these tracks as my own secret weapons in the clubs and festivals! I felt it was time to let go and share them with the world! I create some music solely for this purpose; to take people on a journey second to none.
I create some music solely for this purpose; to take people on a journey second to none...How did you go about deciding what other tunes would feature in the mix?
Texture! Most of the tracks I've been playing in various parts of the world and they've received a crazy response. These are not popular tracks, but I've been amazed by what they do on the dance floor at large. For that reason, I picked them to form a special product that will introduce people to this Afro-driven sonic motor!
What sort of different approach do you have to take when putting a mix like this together in comparison to getting ready for a set at a club?
Not so much different; it's all about energy! When you're DJ, you're like a magician! You manipulate reality through the art of perception. You take the energy of the environment up and down, left and right! Depending on which direction you wanna steer the energy, you pick the music accordingly. Mix, compilation or club, it's all about where you wanna go and how you gonna take people with you.
Connect people with your soul! That's what matters. Whether what you're feeling at the moment is club or lounge...How difficult is it for you to translate the vibe you create when playing in a club to a mix that people will mainly listen to in isolation, in an environment far removed from that of a club setting?
It's not difficult. Connect people with your soul! That's what matters. Whether what you're feeling at the moment is club or lounge, you will play and connect the puzzle accordingly. People will have their own individual comprehension of the music anyway. It's like, there's no law that horror movies are best enjoyed at night; even during the sunny day you can tune into the frequency of a dark movie!
Does the mix give listeners a flavour of what's happening on South Africa's east coast right now?
Yes! South Africa as a whole!
What's the scene like down there? How would you characterise its style for the uninitiated?
The scene is very slick with rhythm. Deeply rooted dance moves that will charm an alien, with undertones of a very warm vice! It's beautiful to experience. The sound has modernized history; local hip-hop and house. If you're in for a good time, come to South Africa!
The scene is very slick with rhythm. Deeply rooted dance moves that will charm an alien...You're a man who travels the globe to play his music; how do you feel the scene in South Africa is perceived around the rest of the world? And how does it compare to the places you visit?
The global perception of South Africa is based on history! The views are from the past! The SA I know is vibrant, modern and forward thinking. Hence the sound that will get a guy dancing in a black suit all the way in Hong Kong, so I believe that people need to visit South Africa to get what it's about; we have our own unique flavor that you can only experience here. From the outside, you can easily mistake it for the west, but it's richer than what it seems on the surface. It doesn't compare to any place in my opinion.
Wow! It was incredible. I've played at Watergate several times & I've never seen the place that packed! So much vibe!You recently had the launch party for the mix at Watergate, with Ame playing live, and Matthias Meyer, La Fleur and more taking to the decks alongside your good self; how was that?
Wow! It was incredible. I've played at Watergate several times and I've never seen the place that packed! So much vibe! I arrived at about 03:30 and there was a long line outside. The vibe was pure greatness!
What do you think of Watergate as a club? How does it compare to some of the other places you go and play?
Watergate has a passionate and liberated crowd. It's an amazing experience! The people simply GET IT! In other places you have to work on expressing what you're about like a teacher explaining physics! At Watergate you don't explain... They GET IT!
What's next up for you then? Any plans for 2017 you can let us in on?
I'm working on a remix for Maya Jane Cole! It's an exciting project and has made my studio days amazing!