K-Dollahz is an internet sensation hailing from Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs. Having developed a keen appreciation for music when he was nothing but a little mischief maker, he was moved to teach himself to play various musical instruments, expanding on his understanding of the form. This selecta has a deep love for timeless classics and is naturally drawn to the rhythms emerging from RnB, Funk, Disco, and Soul’s golden age.
K-$ (Kalo to friends and family) has come up on his own terms. Freed from all pretence and false modesty his Kanye-esque level of self belief, backed by unquestionable talent, has been the fuel that has rocketed him to newfound heights. A fan and now festival favourite, K-$ is not a name you’ll soon forget.
The recent success showered on him could not have happened to a more deserving artist. The journey has been one of hard work and perseverance, and although difficult, it has been well accompanied by close friends and collaborators like On the Radar’s own Imraan Christian and Luke Doman. K-$ is just now hitting his stride and having the time of his life.
Words: Tshiamo Seape
Who are you and what are you doing right now? What’s life like for the International Playboy?
My name is K-Dollahz: I am the International Playboy, I am the Daddy, The Yaadt Lord. What I do is I’m a DJ and an activist, and an Internet sensation. And, your mum’s favourite DJ.
I know that you’re working for Black Major [Artist management/Music Agency] right now. What has being so close to talents like DJ Lag and Felix Laband taught you? Although you have a different sound has proximity to them had any influence on your music or artistry?
Definitely. I think being on the management side has taught me a lot about how to conduct myself as an artist and what I need to bring to the table to be considered a professional. Also, just watching them do what they do kind of inspires me to take my shit to the next level. Like you said, we don’t play the same music but being around those artists really influences me and makes me think about my craft differently to how I did a year ago.
On the Radar is about influential people, what effect would you like your influence to have on your immediate community?
Firstly, thank you for including me on the list – It’s a huge honour.
I would like to create a safe space and make people enjoy themselves and forget about stress. Secondly, something I will always try and push since people have been paying attention is authenticity and being as true to yourself as you possibly can. I think that when I started being real with myself and being unapologetically me, and not having to wait for anyone to do anything about my career, or having to wait for people to accept who I am, things are finally happening for me. You have to make things happen for yourself and I really want people to get that message.
It’s all about self-love, and everyone should feel that way about themselves. If you’re not your biggest fan then what are you doing?
I guess that kind of feeds into my next question. Your online persona is quite braggadocious and you’re very self-confident and unashamedly so. Normally, when people in the public eye take this approach it’s greeted with a lot of negativity. With you, your fans are incredibly warm and receptive to what you do. Why do you think the response has been so different?
To be fair a lot of people have spoken to me about it. In the beginning, when I didn’t have gang followers and people were just stumbling across my stuff they were like, “who does this person think they are”? Even now, a couple of people I’ve met over the past year that I’ve made friends with because of the internet were like, “I don’t understand this; why is this person being so extra”? It’s arrogant until they actually get to know me and then they realise it was initially just a form of self-expression. It was for me to transform myself into this confident person that I needed to be. Eventually, people started to understand that.
You had a really busy 2017: You’ve played CTEMF, Boiler Room (with another one coming up), and Rocking The Daisies. What do you think has been the difference between K-Dollahz a year and a half ago and this year?
I think the difference is the amount of work I put in. It’s really about a year and a half ago when I was working extremely hard. I was playing about 5-6 gigs a week and I wasn’t really where I wanted to be technically. I was just working to exhaustion a lot of the time and putting in the work and putting in the effort. I was taking pointers from the OG’s, taking cues from any sort of resource I could find to help me learn and do better. Like I said, being exposed to proper methods of artist management really helped.
Who are your OG’s?
I think there’s a lot of OG’s in Cape Town. If you look at people like the guys who started Uppercut. When you look at people like JacobSnake and White Nite. These are the people I’ve looked up to for years. Just taking cues from them and knowing that Cape Town is quite a purist DJ culture when it comes to technical skill, your selection, and your ability to move a crowd. I really had to learn quite fast. I also have a thirst for knowledge and a thirst to teach myself and improve. I think that helped me catapult myself to where I am today. Working hard and enjoying it puts you in good standing.
Can you take us on a short journey of your upbringing before you were K-Dollahz? What sticks out in your mind as something that was instrumental in transforming you from who you were to the entertainer you are today?
I always tell people I come from a very musical family. I’ve been exposed to different kinds of genres and styles and instruments. From the beginning, I taught myself to play instruments and in high school, I played guitar and drums. I taught myself to DJ as well – that was kind of the process. Being able to teach myself comes from the love of reading because once you can read anything you can understand anything. Again, the thirst for knowledge combined with the love of reading and the love of music and the love of learning put together was kind of the way things progressed for me. Also, working with people that inspire me. My best friend Luke Doman, Anees Petersen, a lot of the homies on the list: Imraan, Tusa – these are my friends. I’ve surrounded myself with these people from before I was K-Dollahz. This was when I was just working at Smith and Abrams or when I was working at Corner Store, or while I was at University.
It’s nice that you have such talented network.
Yah, and like I said It’s the homies. It’s all natural and organic relationships.We love and support each other – there’s no salt.
With all the success you’ve had recently, it means doing a lot more gigs and a lot more variation in the types of gigs you play. How do you manage to deal with playing to different crowds?
I’m actually playing a lot fewer gigs now; I can be more selective. Before, I was playing five times a week at random places on Long Street and I was dead tired and trying to balance work and studying, but now I really get my pick of the good ones.
But, playing a different crowd like We Love Summer, for example, must be different from the kind of event most of your fans associate you with. Do you change your selection process at all? Is there a different approach to playing We Love Summer as opposed to Boiler Room?
I was doing so many gigs just trying to raise my skill level and gaining as many hours of experience as possible because I believe in the 10,000 hours theory. So, I spent a lot of time playing and obviously I ended up playing a lot of different kinds of parties. I always tell people I’m trying to emulate a house party so I do adapt to different events and try to make it the most fun experience possible and my ability to read the crowd is something that I value a lot. It’s also about context. I interpret what they are doing with each event. Some people think you play a set and get out of there but actually, it’s about creating an experience for someone. Whether you’re playing opening sets and trying to create a space for conversation for the guy to go talk to the girl that he’s been trying to talk to for ages. Or, if you’re a headliner and you drop the stuff that people want to hear, or whether you’re playing closing and you can be a bit more experimental. It really depends on what I get booked for. I try to adapt as best as possible and that’s something I value about myself.
As my identity has evolved so has my style. It’s part of your expression
For people who don’t know what the Lit collective is can you please tell us a little bit more about that?
So Lit started as a crew about two years ago. It was founded by Dark Swano, DPlanet, and Sumo Jac. These were all like-minded individuals who weren’t necessarily getting the recognition they thought they deserved so they started throwing parties and as time went on the squad grew. At first, I was just supporting my friends and going to the shows; it was usually in a shitty bar on Long Street. No one was there except the homies and when I started taking it seriously [DJing] I reached out to Quinton [Dark Swano] because I had known Quinton and all of the guys for a good few years and I was listening to the support they gave and I thought, “let me join the squad and see how we go”. He was like “dude, you’ve always been a part of the squad know let’s just make it official”. I was literally playing to no one but that’s how I learnt and I eventually grew and started three basement parties which were fully attended. Now we’re going on to things like playing at Synergy and CTEMF. The squad is doing amazing things – Such a versatile group. There’s 11 of us just like the soccer team. Some of the homies have played Boiler Room like Floyu, some have been overseas like Boolz…
…Alex [Windows94] has his own party.
Yeah, exactly – I’m playing PRIME on Saturday. It’s family more than anything else. If I check my phone right now there are seven messages in the group since I last checked. Another one just came through.
I found out that you, along with Luke Doman, Queezy, and others created a workshop for kids called Summer Camp. How did the idea come about and what was the experience like for you?
That was all Luke, Luke put that idea together we just fleshed it out in terms of what we can bring to the table. Those kids have grown so much in the past year. We definitely plan on doing that again – it’s a beautiful program. It’s nice that a place like the Store, which is a hub for the youth and the culture, is such a rich environment for growth to take place. It’s happening there every single day and it’s beautiful that the kids can come to a place that they are familiar with. We want to do it again. The Summer Camp kids are actually the next generation and you can already see it in the work that they do.
Let’s talk about style for a minute because that is obviously a big part of your identity. Where does it come from, have you always dressed this way?
I think it comes from being coloured. In our culture and in my family style is very important. My grandmother loves style, my dad loves quality garments and with that, you learn from a young age which materials are dope and what’s popping in terms of trends. I remember high school and what you had to have on civvies day: Chuck Taylor or Jack Purcell. Certain kinds of cotton and certain kinds denim, certain kinds of colours. Those things have always been at the top of my mind. When it comes to getting dressed obviously as a young person you go through your phases until you find your own style. When I left high school I started to experiment more with my style. Also, as my identity has evolved so has my style. It’s part of your expression – it’s the first thing that people see when they look at you before they get to know you. It’s also a self-confidence thing. If you look good you feel good. If you don’t look good on the inside look good on the outside and I promise you will feel good all over. Working at the Store and being friends with designers and having a common interest meant I was always looking into style and fashion and always looking at fashion online. It’s an important point of how I presented myself. When I go to a gig I’ve got to look fly, I have to be that International Playboy.
What are some of the favourite pieces in your wardrobe
It always changes. It will probably change tomorrow because I’m kind of a hoarder. I always believe that things are going to come back in style. I have close to 100 pairs of sneakers and still have Young and Lazy pieces from the first collections. I would say at the moment my favourite pair of sneakers is a pair of Jordan 9’s in olive. I wear them once a year and I’ve already worn them this year so they went straight back in the box. My favourite pair of pants are ones I just got. They’re a pair of Lee jeans and I’ve been wearing them quite a bit. The Corner Store tees that just came out – those are fire for me. Jacket: The new Sol Sol hickory jacket. Hat: when I was in Austria playing for Dope Saint Jude I managed to get my hands on a Karl Kani hat – It’s like a heritage brand in America that was popping for people of colour in the 80’s and 90’s. That’s my favourite piece right now.
I didn’t know you were in Austria with Dope Saint Jude, tell us about that.
That was really fun because it was my first overseas tour, which was such a great achievement for me and probably one of the highlights of my life, nevermind my year. We played at the Steirischer Herbst in Graz, which is just outside Vienna. It was a really great experience and I can’t wait to go on my own tour – hopefully sometime next year.
So what’s next for K-Dollahz?
Definitely bigger gigs, more life, more success. I still have Synergy before the end of the year and then another *big gig with an international that’s hopefully going to be announced soon.
*While I can’t divulge the details of the headliner, I can assure you fans will not be disappointed.