Industry stalwart, DJ/Producer Mbuso Tulwana really has done more than most in this country when it comes to [House and Techno] music. Collaborative projects, releases on world-renowned labels, establishing two record labels in this country and a list of quality tracks to his name…Mbee, as he’s affectionately known by some, certainly has quite the CV.
For The Record SA caught up with him…
Hi Mbuso, another busy weekend in Johannesburg or are you saving yourself for some Monday night fun in Alexandra Township again?
Hi bruv you know how it is! This weekend I’m playing at The View in Soweto, it’s my friend’s birthday, then later I hit my Spot at Blue Naartjie in Orange Grove for intense deepness till 5am, but you know Sundays is hurricane in the East Rand and Mondays its 15 in Alex Township
You’ve come a mighty long way from that first compilation “Urban House Mix” and even before that, hosting events with your brother in Soweto, to where you are now. What are some of the highlights and challenges you’ve faced along this journey?
Biggest highlight is that this was not planned. It all came through the grace of God, family, friends, lots of Hard WORK and most of all the People who support what I’m about. Good music and positive spirit. There have been some challenges especially with ones’ family, but that’s all in the past.
Rex Club in Paris was one of the biggest gigs I’ve done, man the vibe!! Kuala Lumpur is insane too, mad techno lovers out there.
Founder of Soul Candi Records [alongside Harael Salkow] in 2001 and now label boss of Phezulu Records 12years later. Has there been a change in focus with the new record label and how have you gone about adapting to this digital era of music?
It has been hard on that end as I’m still very old school about that, especially with all the piracy going around, but hey one has to adapt.
Your latest album is DJ Mbuso – House Player [from Soweto] and has collaborations with Harrison Crump, Abicah Soul and Drew Smith [among others]. It’s the kinda album you can play in your car, yet still groovy enough to listen to at a house party. Your mixes on the other hand are a lot ‘tougher’ and worthy of a peak-time slot. Is it important for the modern day DJ/Producer to be able to work both ends of the “house music” spectrum?
Yes, I mean I am of the view that albums are bought to listen to for years on end. You must find a new song every time you listen to it, whereas DJing (man) that’s a different story, I like to get “jiggy” like that, meaning I will take you on a journey. The longer the set, the greater the journey.
I liken you to be one of the pioneering figures for house/techno music in this country, you’ve done as much as any of the other big names in the industry, why is it you aren’t getting booked as often as you should? Is this a choice you’ve made or do you think you’ve you been forgotten?
I have done this for so long it took a toll on me and my family, to the point where I decided to step back and make family my priority, but watch next year my albums are gonna be jiggier! I’m back on it.
One thing I really appreciate about you, is that 1) you support your fellow DJs when they’re out playing and 2) you love the township gigs as much [or maybe even more] than the city/club gigs. Is it the sense of remembering your peers and also where it all started? As for you, it was back in Orlando West, Soweto where the relationship with house/kwaito music began.
Ghetto is where it all started for me and where I draw most of my inspiration as there is a lot of expression there, but maybe its ‘coz all the gigs I go to are free entry hahaha
My favourite Mbuso track is “Mbuso’s Revenge”…there’s also the track you put out on Innervisions in 2008 entitled “Ukukholwa Kuwe”, which is darn good too. Which of your productions are you most proud of?
My favourite album of all time is Electribe 101 – Electribal Memories from 1989. But from my own stuff I’d say Summer Breeze and Oh Yeah with Harrison Crump.
The Innervisions release was quite an achievement. Very early in their “Secret Weapons” series and alongside releases by Alix Alvarez, Francois K and Roberto Auser…how did this come about?
I was at Midem in Cannes, and gave it to some guy to play and Kristian [Beyer] from Innervisions caught it and the rest is history.
I listened to your “Journey Rediscovered” podcast and was reminded that most of these tracks are timeless/classics, still able to rock a dancefloor right now. I’m sure it’s a lot tougher nowadays to keep a track in your “box” as long as you did back then? Or do you still play quality tracks for as long a time as you did back when they were on vinyl?
It’s a lot harder, especially playing shorter sets, because I play so many different types of “HOUSE”. But I do my best to meet the challenge. As they say longer and harder is better?
Who are the DJ/Producers to look out for right now? Besides the Culoe de Songs’, Jullian Gomes’ and so forth…any other young talents doing the business that we may not be aware of?
ProblemChild, DJ Fale, Chymamusique, Geonix Deep, Dj Vula, Uhuru, Bob’Ezy, Mbu, and my man Rune who is on fire, but there are so many. These are the guys that shake my box locally
Finally, are there any new projects we can look forward to from your side this year still?
No just a few singles… will drop an album next year.
Thanks very much for chatting to us and hopefully we’ll see you in Cape Town pretty soon 😉
For sure, ons sal die Kaapse Dans doen.