P Kuttah Interview
Having honed his DJ skills in ’98 at the legendary Le Club Hip Hop Sessions alongside DJ’s Blaze & Bionic, P-Kuttah (Also known as Pay_Per-Kut) relocated to Durban where he professionally started his DJ career in 2004 becoming one of Durban’s biggest club DJ’s. In 2009 joined Hip Hop crossover band Tree Houses On The Sea AKA T.H.O.T.S. who went on to win the “Durex Battle Of The Bands” competition in 2010. He has been a tour DJ for Jozi, Da L.E.S, L-Tido & currently Toya Delazy & is the african tour DJ for California/L.A. based Hip Hop outfit Pac Div. He was voted “Best Hip Hop DJ 2009” by sahottestdjs.com & has opened for Hip Hop international acts like Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell, Pharoahe Monch, Chris Brown, Grand Master Flash & DJ Jazzy Jeff. He is also a member of SA recording stable Raw-X Studios alongside P.H, Yanga, A-Reece & Lunatik & one 3rd of the concept band “Sampling Through The Ages” #STTA consisting of DJ Raiko & drummer extraordinaire J-Star.
You’re no stranger to the South African hip hop landscape. For those not familiar with P Kuttah give us an overview of your introduction into DJ’ing?
Well I started DJ’ing in 98 I use to go to the matinee at LE Club every Saturday in my early teens it was the one place where we could go have a good time & hear dope Hip Hop music. I use to write rhymes back then & was always trying to jump on the open mic. You see back then there were more MC’s then DJ’s so getting on the mic started becoming a bit of a hassle like Pras from the Fugees said “To many mc’s not enough mics” & at that time I was co-hosting a show with DJ Bionik & Hip Hop Scholar on V.O.S (Voice Of Soweto) every Saturday morning myself & my homie Cecil use to do the music news & gossip on the show. Scholar eventually left the show & it was just Bionik, Cecil & myself then one day Bionik couldn’t make it to the show so me & Cecil had to do the show on our own which meant playing all the music. That day we got a really good response from the people that tuned in saying they really liked the music we were playing so I thought why not? Blaze & Bionik were the only Hip Hop DJ’s at the time in LE Club so I started going to Blaze place as he stayed right up the road from me in Yeoville & began learning from him & Bionik & that’s how I got introduced to DJ’ing.
How has the DJ scene specifically within the hip hop genre progressed or digressed in Johannesburg?
I think in terms of progression it has opened more opportunities for DJ’s in the corporate world as well as in the business of music especially as a artist but the club scene has kinda killed the real identity of a Hip Hop DJ with most Hip Hop DJ’s now being standard mix DJ’s mostly playing commercial music that features on radio & TV. DJ’s have kinda lost touch with what makes & seperates a Hip Hop DJ from any other genre & that the skill & creativity.
Johannesburg hip hop DJs been in the forefront of releasing mainstream singles for the past 6-7 years. What’s been the positives and negatives in your opinion.
Well DJ’s have now become artist in thier own right & are becoming bigger brands the only negative thing I can say about it is that most DJ’s don’t produce their own music & just get a few artists, a producer & put their name on the song but didn’t contribute anything towards the it & leave their own impront on it. Some co-produce but I still feel as a DJ you should be able to make your own music. I mean we make a living playing it so why cant you make it yourself?
You’ve been a DJ for two prominent South African artists, Toya Delazy and L-Tido. How did this come about and what have learnt out of those experiences?
Ive DJ’ed for a few acts throughout my career from Jozi, Raheem Kemet, Reason, Ginger Trill & Youngsta but yes L-Tido & Toya are the acts Ive DJ’ed for the longest. The Tido gig came about when Jozi disbanded as a group. I played for Da L.E.S. for a bit then Tido reached out just after he dropped his debut album “All Or Nothing” & wanted a DJ that did more then just press play so I played for Tido as well as musically directed his live show for about 3 years. Toya is a old friend of mine from my days when I was in Durban. She worked a lot with my band at that time Tree Houses On The Sea (T.H.O.T.S.) & was a music student at Howard College (UKZN) so we would always hang out. After she blew up her management wanted to change her live show & add a different elements to it so she suggested I become her new DJ as she wanted a scratch DJ so I met with her & her team & we clicked & as they say the rest is history.
Tell us more about Koolout and your association with the brand?
Kool Out is a events company that consists of myself, Akio (DJ ID), Reason & Banesa Creative. The company started in Cape Town around 2008 & in 2011 moved down to Joburg. At the time DJ Raiko was apart of the crew but left in 2014 that’s when Banesa joined us. We are currently the longest running Hip Hop events company in South Africa & have helped bring down acts like Mobb Deep, BadBadNotGood, Pharoahe Monch, Rass Kass, Gaslamp Killer, DJ Babu, Blu & Exile are some to mention. My role in Kool Out is as a Event Coordinator, media director & artist.
KoolinInTheCity hosted by KOL has become a calendar event in the Johannesburg entertainment scene? What was the motivation behind it and future intent for event?
When we began doing events in Jozi it was at Kitcheners in Braamfontein & started the trend for Hip Hop gigs there but once the scene started becoming too crowded with many other promoters doing Hip Hop events in Braam we looked at what we thought was missing in the Joburg events scene & one thing we realized was that there just wasn’t enough rooftop parties that provided a scene that focused on live music & a place where people can enjoy good & different styles of music in a chilled atmosphere where is opposed to the club scene that soley focuses on commercial music & is more about the turn up. So we started doing #KoolinInTheCity in Maboneneg before we found our home & HQ at Corner House Building 77 Commissioners street its where we run Kool Out from & home to our recording studio The Promised Land. As for the future we plan to take the #KoolinInTheCity brand across the country even through Africa so watch out SA we’ll soon be Koolin in your city.
Let’s talk about your newest project S.T.T.A. – and winning battle of bands at Africa’s biggest hip hop festival, Back to the City?
S.T.T.A. stands for Sampling Through The Ages. The band consists of Pasta Abdxll (pronounced Pastor Abdul) aka J-Star on drums & MPC, DJ Raiko on turntables, J-Nasty on a Maschine sampler & vocals & myself on turntables & a Maschine sampler. We’re a concept band our aim is the live remix & minipulation of musci right in front of you. So we do our own covers of famous music from Hip Hop to R&B, Rock, Kwaito even Gospel but we mess with it & give it a twist of our own.
Winning battle of the bands really helped put our name out there & things have been moving pretty quick since then. We actually never thought we would win the battle? Don’t get me wrong we knew we were dope & we’re doing something different but we felt they were looking more for a typical band with a front man then opposed to a band that’s focus is mainly beats but we were the only band that got an encore that night & when they announced us as winners we werent even there lol J-Star went past the stage to see what was happining & they were like “Hey where were you guys? You won the battle” I was back at the main stage so when J-Star came through with the big white cheque that said “Battle Of The Band Winners“ I screamed like a litle girl hahaha but it was a humbling experience & showed that we are on the right track & have something good going.
Are there any EP, album releases for S.T.T.A in the pipeline?
Our drummer Pasta has just released his debute single titled “Birthday Cake” & features Ginger Trill, Priddy Ugly, Youngsta & S.T.T.A. We’re about to start recording our EP & will be going on tour early next year so watch out for that.
How would you define your DJ style?
Creative, party & entertaining
What’s your DJ setup and your approach to putting together radio sets and mixtapes?
My ideal set up is 2 turntables & perfromance mixer but I have learnt to use CDJ’s & pretty fimiliar with most mixers out there. I use Serato DJ & Scratch Live which gives me the freedom to explore all the music I have on my laptop & allows me to take my audience on a musical journey through the different sounds I play from Hip Hop, R&B, Kwaito, Dancehall, Mid-Tempo, Trap & House.
My approach to a set is allows dependent on the type of party I get booked for. If its club then its all the way rachet but I try bring my own flavour to it & include tracks that I feel are club bangers but not popular. Festivals & concerts are more entertainment based so its a mix of popular new & old school tunes with scratching, live mash ups & live beat minipulation with the Maschine sampler. My sets at Kool Out events are my favourite though it’s the one place where I use all these styles in one set & you really get to hear me just spazz out.
What’s next’s for P-Kuttah?
Right now S.T.T.A. is my main musical focus & to take the band to the next level of live perfromances as well as to keep building the Kool Out brand & continue to bring quality events but maybe next year if your lucky you might just hear a P-Kuttah single or project you never know?… But you can catch me on the road with Sprite from August till October around the country. Make sure you keep up via my social media platforms. Twitter: @P_Kuttah / Facebook: Verdine P-Kuttah Petersen / Instagram: @p_kuttah & you’ll be able to see exactly where we will be in your city?
Famous last words…
Believe is one of the strongest tools we have to achieving our goals as individuals. The believe in yourself, the believe in your abilty & talent, the believe in your those you surround yourself with everyday & mostly the believe in GOD. If you keep the the faith in in all these things you will always strive & accomplish the goals you set out to achieve.