By Chelsea Haith
With his bleached blonde hair, heavy undercut and pale skin, Kyle Brinkmann looks as progressive and subversively German as his stage name, Das Kapital. Dressed all in black, only the tip of his cigarette and his pale skin are dimly visible in the dark of the street beset by load-shedding. We stood shivering in the cold while he smoked and spoke, pausing only to offer his lighter to a nearby car guard. Assertions fall out of the DJ like water gushing from a broken pipe: he’s got an opinion on everything and he’s ready to share it.
Das Kapital took his name from the text by Karl Marx that changed the course of the 20th century. Brinkmann chose the name after he became disillusioned with fiction books in his late teens and began reading philosophy. “So yeah, I’m half German, and I thought, ‘Let’s go with Karl Marx, it’s a good one’. And I suppose there’s a stupid joke in there about it being ‘music for the people’ the irony also being that it’s my job and I live in a capitalist system so I’m making money off of being a guy named after the quintessential book on Communism,” he said, smiling wryly.
City Back/ Callin’ Dub EP, Das Kapital’s latest release, came out last week on the Manchester, UK label Night Shift Sound. “The feedback from DJs has been unbelievable, it’s getting played by people that I never would have imagined and great guys,” Brinkmann said.
At only 24 years old Brinkmann has co-founded Do Work Records, written music for advertisements and films like 21 Jump Street and played major international festivals like The Secret Garden Party in the UK in 2013. He’s currently working on a mix for a Dutch label and after that will be doing work experimenting with African beats collaborating with an American producer. He’s keeping the details of these projects under wraps for now. “People can expect me to sound better than I’ve ever sounded before,” Brinkmann said, feeding his reputation as an arrogant young buck. But there’s more to the man than the big words. Das Kapital is a brand, Kyle Brinkmann is a person and there’s a clever humour that comes with his self-assurance.
“I’m smart enough that it can put people off sometimes,” Brinkmann said laughing about the description GQ gave of him in 2012. He’s gone from being the just another ‘tattooed and pierced Cape Town creative’ to a major international DJ that South Africa is only catching up with now, thanks to his international profile. “People go, ‘Oh you’ve gone on an international tour’ when all it really took was for South Africans to wake up to what’s going on right under their noses,” Brinkmann said.
A self-proclaimed feminist, Brinkmann went head to head with Tiger Tiger over their annual Boob Job Giveaway in 2014 and challenged the sexist implication that women should feel insecure about their bodies. He entered the competition multiple times to win breast reconstruction surgery which he intended to donate to a transgender women or breast cancer survivor who needed it. “I thought it was bullshit that women, young women, should be looking at themselves thinking, ‘I wonder if I need a boob job’. You should never think that. Never. It implies that some people have something wrong with them and should want to fix that. That is just sexist and arrogant.” The charity he started The Kyle Brinkmann South African National Cleavage Day Breast Cancer Survivors Project is still running and has raised over R30 000 for the cause.
Brinkmann believes in the necessity of music to educate through a diversity of styles as well as to be enjoyed in the club setting, which is ultimately a meeting ground for people and genres. “You’re there to meet someone, to go home with someone, to hook up with someone, to have a drink with friends, to wind down at the end of the day and to lose your shit on the dancefloor. The beauty of a dancefloor is that I remember it being simultaneously an education and exultation.”
After the interview, we stepped back into the cold and wandered down to Champs Action Bar for a beer. Perhaps a little overworked and tired from travelling, Brinkmann was still good for a chat and some lively debate about #RhodesMustFall in a small bar in the Eastern Cape. Sitting at the bar we overheard a woman telling a friend nearby that her boyfriend was home playing Xbox. He turned to me and said, “That’s what I’d like to be doing. I just bought myself a PS4, and I haven’t had a chance to play it yet. But work is work.”
Read more of the interview here.
Watch Das Kapital talk about his work here: