You might say Black Coffee is a bridge over troubled waters or maybe a patron saint of house music sent to convert the ignorant masses who worship false idols. Whatever you want to call him one thing is for certain, he is helping to save house music as we know it.
With so many bastardized genres of house surfacing every couple months it's a miracle that proper house music hasn't been stamped out altogether. The genre of deep house is so far from its original origin that most fans today don't even know what true deep house is anymore.
Black Coffee is true school and along with artists like The Martinez Brothers, Disclosure, and all the originators he is slowly but surely helping reignite the music that helped start this revolution that we all love so much.
Many fans have this strange notion Black Coffee was an overnight success, but that's not entirely correct despite his meteoric rise to superstar status. Born in South Africa as Nkosinathi Maphumulo in 1976 he seemed to follow some divine path that would lead him to this moment of global success with no horizon line in site.
He studied music at university with a focus on jazz; he was a singer in an Afro-pop trio that went under the name SHANA (Simply Hot and Naturally African) and in 2003 was admitted to the Red Bull Music Academy which kick-started a career that is now actually quite hot and very African. There is probably a lot about Mr. Maphumulo that you do not know but one thing we all know, he's helping to save the core values of house music one gig at a time.
His sound has an African essence which is somewhat effortless and blends flawlessly with his traditional house vibes. His music is African without being cliche; it respects the past but pushes forward, and that influence, however, subtle set's his work apart from most of his contemporaries.
With five studio albums under his belt, most recently the award-winning Pieces Of Me on Ultra, countless singles, a global touring schedule and his label Soulistic Music it's a wonder that the guy finds time to sleep.
So for his contributions to the genre and his incredible work as both a DJ and a producer, we are proud to present our Artist of the Year for 2016.
Yes, we are drinking a lot of Coffee, and you can bet your ass it's Black!
Exclusive DJ Mix
The Black Coffee Interview
We got the chance to catch up with Black Coffee for a quick interview, so dive in and turn up his exclusive DJ mix for Magnetic. Big thanks to Ultra, Listen Up PR, Mixcloud and the team at Soulistic Records for helping make this all happen. Enjoy!
MM: You got your first big break back in 2003 at the Red Bull Music Academy. Can you explain how that small conference had such a profound impact on your career?
BC: That Red Bull hosted RBMA Cape Town as long as 13 years ago. The world has only woken up to house music talent in this country recently, so it’s quite special that they were so far ahead of the pack. That coupled with the honor of being chosen as a participant. And then the experience of the academy itself. Being surrounded by so many other equally musically passionate people and immersed in the culture of the industry was an intense experience that re affirmed my desire and decision to make music my career.
In a singles driven music industry, you still continue to make albums. Why is the album important to you?
In South Africa, this has always been different. As consumers of music, we are still very much into artists releasing full albums and even the sale of physical CDs is still strong and very much viable market. It's important for me to keep that part of me solid and to be mindful of what resonates with my core fanbase.
Your sound has always managed to walk the line between classic house and African music, a perfect blend of influences. Do you ever see yourself making a more traditional African album?
I consider the music that I make as African already. People should take the time to learn and expose themselves to what Africa is today. As Africans, we have become increasingly exposed to so many different influences that each of us brings and reveals a different side of Africa in what we do and create.
As the “EDM” era ushers in new fans, there has been a lot of confusion on the genre of Deep House, with the term getting used incorrectly and almost taking on a new meaning to the modern dance music fan. As a true Deep House artist does this bother you or not at all?
No, the confusion or misconception around a particular kind of sound doesn’t bother me. To me, good music remains good music no matter what the genre or label attached to it by the media or people. Staying true to myself and producing quality music that feeds my soul and moves my fans is what matters the most to me.
As we enter into 2017, a year that looks to be incredibly turbulent and disruptive how do you feel about it?
I'm excited and very optimistic about 2017, we have some cool projects planned.
If you had to describe your sound to a deaf person, how would you describe it?
Soulful percussive driven deep house laced with stirring melodies and vocals.
Who are some of your big inspirations in house music? When you were first starting out who were the guys, you looked up to?
Louie Vega and South African legends Oskido, DJ Christos, Vinny Da Vinci and DJ Fresh.
You have a formal education in music, specifically jazz. How has that influenced your approach to production and DJing?
I’m definitely a jazzman at heart. I love soul and jazz influences in music, and I love incorporating those elements in the music that I produce. I think it’s what sustains music and makes it last forever.
What is your philosophy on DJing? Do you believe in prepared sets or do you like to start with a blank canvas? etc.
Having that exposure has contributed so much to how I approach electronic music whether in the studio or the booth. I always start with a blank canvas, but I think the experience I’ve picked up playing across the globe while still staying grounded and relevant with my roots has honed my instincts to be able to read any kind of crowd or situation and adapt to it.
What are some of your favorite places to play in the USA? Any standout moments that you will never forget?
WMC every year I’ve been there, Coachella, Sound in LA and Time Warp US in NYC. Actually, every time that I’ve played a gig in New York has been a truly memorable experience.
What are your weapons of choice in the DJ booth? Traktor, CDJs, Serato?
3 x Pioneer CDJ 2000s and a Pioneer DJM 600 mixer.
Who are some of the artists that are impressing you right now? Are you mentoring anyone at the moment?
Soulistic Music artist, Da Capo is an amazing talent. One of the most musically gifted youngsters I’ve ever come across. He is destined for big things and one to keep a close eye on.
If you could have lunch with Larry Levan, Frankie Knuckles or David Mancuso who would it be and why?
It would be to have lunch with all three and getting the insight from each of them of their time and contribution to the dance world.
You get three records for the rest of your life, your desert island discs so to speak. What would you pick?
Larry Heard - "Flight of the Comet"
Llorca - "Lights Behind Windows"
Black Coffee feat. Bucie - "Superman"
What can we expect to see from Black Coffee in 2017?
A multi-city, multi-continent 2017 world tour kicking off soon, another crazy season in Ibiza, the release of my 6th full-length album as well as a number of thrilling surprises that are still under wraps.