BLACK COFFEE
A MAN WITH A DREAM

by Dan Prince May 2017 MUSIC Read in PDF format N13/2017
BLACK COFFEE “Ibiza is the most important place for any DJ to be playing, it is where we all want to be”

The morning of 11 February 1990 is a date that will forever be embedded in the mind of Nathi Maphumulo. Nelson Mandela was being released from jail and there were street celebrations in all the townships across South Africa. A car came out of nowhere at high speed and drove straight through the crowd in which Nathi was standing. Thirty-five people were injured and two people including the driver died after he was dragged from the car and set on fire by the crowd. The accident left Nathi with an injury affecting the nerves in his shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand; in a flash the teenager lost the use of his left arm forever. This summer he walks into the world’s newest superclub Hï Ibiza with his very own night and a proud 18-week residency. Some people don’t give up on their dreams. Here’s one of them…

As a child you woke at 5am every morning and walked alone in the dark to milk the family cows. What were your dreams back then, was it difficult to see life outside of your environment?

I’ve always had the most vivid imagination and far fetched fantasies. Even as a child there were big dreams of becoming a well-known artist traveling the world and creating beautiful music. I always had these goals and although I never knew if they would be possible, it was always part of my life plan. There is only one person who can limit yourself…and that’s you.

Do you think being so young when you had the accident helped you cope with your disability?

Oh without doubt. I was still so young, had so much drive inside of me and still had that innocent belief that anything was possible. I truly believe I wouldn’t be here today if the accident had happened later in my life.

Even with so much ambition you must have had concerns about how you’d physically be able to peform as a musician?

Of course I worried how I could spin vinyl and make music with one hand, but I just figured out how to DJ and produce and got on with it. It’s as simple as that.

Today, you’re South Africa’s biggest musical export. Are you finding people at home starting to treat you differently after all your global success?

People obviously know who I am these days, but I’m a very private person and when I do venture out it’s only for work. Social media is obviously having a big effect and I’m finding myself stopped more and more for selfies which is all new to me. But on the whole the respect levels have stayed the same.

It’s incredible to think that you started DJing with cassettes and you would go to shows with a pen to rewind and fast-forward the tapes. Now look at you! You told me last year that the next step for you as an artist was a residency in Ibiza. Why is it so important to you?

Ibiza is the most important place for any DJ to be playing, it is where we all want to be. There is a real DJ community on the island and everyone is striving to achieve and be the best at what they do. I love that.

How long have you been planning your new residency at Hï Ibiza and what can we expect musically?

I started speaking with Yann around 12 months ago about the idea and how it could work. I am so excited about the new night; I really believe we are going to do something very special here. Each Saturday is going to be different, we have booked some amazing artists including Damian Lazarus, Âme, Bedouin, Lee Burridge and DJ Harvey alongside some brilliant South African talents such as Black Motion and Culoe de Song who I know people are going to love.

There is so much competition on the island. How will you stand out from the competition?

People will come to us for the music, that is our number one priority. Our aim is to recreate the old days of clubbing where people love the songs and then down the line will hear a track and think ‘I first heard that track at Black Coffee’s party at Hï Ibiza’. That doesn’t happen much anymore, which is really sad.

You are appearing at the ÏU MAG Launch Experience Party on 1 July on the rooftop of Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza with Erick Morillo. Is this the first time you’ve played with the Subliminal boss?

Yes it is, I can’t wait. I met him in Miami recently and we hung out, chatted about music and swapped numbers. He’s cool and the party looks a lot of fun.

So much has happened to you these past couple of years; travel, wealth and achievement. Would you say you now lead the life of rockstar?

Haha. Well yes I do but it is a different style of rockstar life than the clichéd one. I don’t drink, never smoked a cigarette or touched drugs – so in that sense no. But in the sense of being famous then I suppose I do. It’s very hard for me to rock up anywhere without getting attention in my home country, that’s why I love going to Europe so much as I get a complete peace of mind and am left alone.

Has all this travelling affected your studio methods?

Of course, traversing the world has exposed me to so many new styles of music. I have learnt a lot and I now make music with a ‘less is more’ approach rather than spending too many hours locked away. With my lifestyle I know I have to have a lot of sleep, I need it to try and make some sense of this crazy world.

You recently received a credit on Drake’s More Life project for his ‘Get It Together’ track that used the beat of your song, ‘Superman’. Although not an actual collab, he was on your dream list of artists you want to make music with one day…

I don’t want to be known in years to come as ‘that artist from South Africa who makes music’. I want to work with everyone, have a big list of collaborators and yes, Drake is on that list. The whole More Life thing was a huge thing for me as a producer. I made ‘Superman’ in 2008 and for him to pick it up as a 2017 release meant so much. It takes away all the doubts I may have had that my kind of house music wasn’t global enough.

You are a huge car fanatic. But even when you see a car you like you still think to yourself how it could be changed to make it totally unique. How important is being unique in your music?

Unique is a very big word to me, you only have to look at my Hï Ibiza residency to see that – it is going to be a totally unique night, in terms of the music at least.

When some people see a flyer with Black Coffee from South Africa on it they conjure up visions of African masks and Congo drums featured at the party, instead what they get is ancestral house music with real soul. But your music does have an African vibe…

Yes it does but that is not a conscious effort, it is just who I am and how I hear and understand music.

You grew up in a very religious household where you would pray and sing for an hour every morning. Is religion still important to you?

Yes it is. I think as a person it is very guarding to fear someone or something and understand that the world does not revolve around you. You have to be aware of this. My role with my music is to show people the work of God – where I am from, where I am at and where I want to go. I want people to be united by my music.

You have been spending time in schools recently talking to the students, what message have you been giving?

I have been explaining to these youngsters how we have suffered so much in terms of knowing who we are as black people. Our government did a very big job in poisoning the minds of black people by making us think we are nothing. We have a big job to educate each other and to stress how vital it is to believe in ourselves, despite our past. Self love is so important.

You were robbed in a petrol station recently by a random guy yielding a 4lb hammer. For such a private person, how did this affect you?

Man that was crazy and it was actually the day before my wedding. I live in an amazing country but this incident just illustrated how we have to take care of people on the streets. It has made me more cautious but I have moved on and the terror has gone from my mind.

And finally, you have never been a producer with an extensive knowledge of a record label’s history or an artist’s back catalogue. Do your DJ mates take the piss out of you for this endearing trait?

Haha, no; well I hope they don’t! Listen, if I hear a song and I think it’s special I will go and look for it and devour it. If it isn’t so good I forget about it, that’s just the way it is. The fact that I get to play this wonderful music is the most important thing to me. When I listen to most of the DJs out there it all sounds like one song and can be so soul destroying. That’s why everyone’s in for a musical treat at Hï Ibiza every Saturday this summer. The party has just begun.

Black Coffee every Saturday at Hï Ibiza 3 June – 30 September

Tickets available at
www.hiibiza.com

 

Black Coffee joins Erick Morillo, Melon
Bomb, Salomé and Andy Eastough at
the ÏU MAG Launch Experience
at The Ninth, Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza on 1
July, 6pm-Midnight

 

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