After I interview him for BBC Radio 1xtra in March which you can check out HERE Culoe de Song has more words and a special mix for the good people of Pulse Radio
Being signed to Soulistic, the Eshowe born, Afro-house DJ and producer Culolethu Zulu – famously known as Culoe De Song – is part of a label that’s busy putting South Africa on the map in a big way. With fellow Soulistic artist Black Coffee having just debuted at Circoloco at DC-10 in Ibiza, and Culoe playing his captivating afro-house sets around the world, these guys are making waves and turning heads and ears towards the tip of Africa we call home.
Culoe tends to shy away from the lime-light. That’s not to say that he’s not in it, but his humble demeanor keeps Culoe a little under the radar at times. With his new album ‘Exodus’ on the horizon, and with him being quite particular with how he wants it to be received, Pulse took the opportunity to catch up with Culoe to fire him a few questions. He’s also put together an exclusive podcast for us too.
Pulse: You keep a low profile in terms of media appearances and your overall presence in the lime light unlike other artists. Is this a true reflection of yourself? It begs the question, who is Culoe – is he the quiet shy guy we all presume him to be? Culoe De Song: Culoe is God’s crazy idea of a shy guy! I find myself appearing where I’m supposed to appear and talk where I’m supposed to talk! I’m basically where my energy is in a moment! So I’m not sure of my shy degree.
We know you are of Zulu Heritage, please tell us about how your heritage influenced your music, as well as the significance to your name? I grew up in the homelands of Eshowe, a town centered in Zululand. So traditional and urban music is something I’d hear everyday growing up; from taxis, wedding ceremonies, shops and radio-carrying locals passing by. So all the above is part of my heritage. Rhythmic music and social desires in Zululand influenced me big time! My name Culoelethu actually means “Our Song”.
Here at Pulse Radio, we have great love and respect for Soulistic Music, with artists like yourself, Black Coffee, Kabila, Sai & Rabitone, Soulstar, and now the young talent of DJ Shimza. Can you tell us about the working environment at the label? It’s crazy! It’s young! Big dreams are an everyday thing and we inspire each other in a number of ways.
Tell us about working with Black Coffee. Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by his sheer aura and what’s your relationship like with him? There’s no one like Black Coffee, from his character and presence. A true definition of a good man and as a result, we have a good brotherly relationship because of his forever “Good” influence.
2009 saw your release on Innervisions, one of the great pioneering labels in Germany. How did that come about? Innervisions received a number of emails about my music after my first visit to Europe in ’08. So from there it’s been a fulfilled blessing.
Around the same time you started performing internationally in the USA, Europe and even Asia. You have performed at Sonar in Barcelona, Djoon in Paris, WMC in Miami and you just recently got back from a quick Euro tour of Paris, Munich and Geneva. Can you tell us about your experiences and highlights performing in these regions? Which event or festival are you still dying to play at? That festival is yet to be born! In Africa! Otherwise, I’d love to play a big festival like Tomorrowland or Coachella. I love the arts and I feel these festivals give artists that space to fully express themselves. DJing is an art, and my attitude in a big stage is to tell a story. All my tours have been inspiring, meeting different cultural escapes, that big idea that a boy from a smalltown in Zululand can DJ in Bern or Sao Paulo etc. The fact that this has come true is really big for me!
Having performed internationally and locally where would you place the bar on the South African industry when compared to other countries. Are we really where everyone thinks we are? I think Africa in general is receiving some unique love these days. The world scene is really looking forward to some African elements, so I do believe that we are somewhere up there.
At Pulse Radio, we are trying to spread the word of the growing scenes in the rest of Africa, not just South Africa. You have played quite a bit around the rest of the continent, can you tell us about your reception and observation? Is Africa really rising? Africa is rising for sure. You know, when you’re a young African boy picturing the idea of the term “international” it’s really exciting! I’ve played in neighbouring countries and the response always excites me. It becomes “world-like” for me, even in a neighbouring country. I think it’s because I’ve always dreamt of being a Gypsy of some sort, a nomad, so regardless of where I go, my movement is world-like.
News on the grapevine is that you, kind sir, are working on a new album called ‘Exodus’. Without revealing too much can you tell us a little about the album; the meaning of the name, whom you’ve featured with and what is different from this album compared to the last one. Also, when is it due for release? Exodus is a big album for me. It’s been a serious journey thus far and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. So I’m meeting my artistic desires and most importantly the people in this album. I’ve worked with the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai, Thandi Draai, Sunnyboy (guitarist), Soulstar, Shota to name a few and live collaborations. I’vr got some international remixes that I’ll be including in the album. It’s best of both worlds, as my fans would say, “You got two sides bro”…so maybe this is true! I’m crossing back and forth the ocean that isolates my artistic influences.
I find it superlative how your organic African sound has become successful not only here but in Europe. It removes the stigma that you have to sound European to sell to Europeans. What would you attribute to your success? When I listen to songs like ‘Webaba’ and ‘The Bright Forest’ I envision that element of excitement I used to get when I think of the term “international”. As a South African playing in Germany or wherever, I’m an international in that particular country and so the energy I bring from my home ground vs the energy of my foreign musical followers is what has made me successful in my international career. I think it’s that energy called Truth; it is something I never planned but has happened.
How did you go about compiling this podcast? Is there anything different that you did here compared to your DJ sets and what is your favourite track in this podcast? This mix tells you exactly where I’m at right now. I got some of my most favorite tracks in this mix. They keep me going wherever I play. I’m loving my new single with Soulstar, ‘My Sunshine’ in this mix. This song has got me excited about my upcoming album.
Lastly, where do you see yourself taking the music five or ten years from now? In the same breath, what are you looking to achieve through your music? I’m looking to achieve the bigger picture, which is to build a Culoe De Song brand and spread the music as broadly as I can. I just want to inspire others because I’m a product of inspiration myself.
1. Agoria feat Carl Craig – Speechless
2. Jullian Gomes feat Bobby – Love Song 28 (Stuff’s essential mix)
3. Garth & Grel – Inhliziyo Yam (Darque’s Define Dub)
4. Elise – Poseidon (At One Remix)
5. Sai & Ribatone – Sunday Showers (Dj Angelo Edit)
6. Culoe De Song feat Soulstar – My Sunshine
7. DJ MX – Children Singing
8. Culoe De Song – Story Untitled
9. Culoe De Song feat Shota – Ma Afrika
10. Culoe De Song – The Bright Forest (Black Motion Remake)
11. Daft Punk – Get Luck over Osunlade’s Instrumental
Interview by Lazarusman for Pulse Radio
Check out more interviews and podcasts from Pulse Radio HERE