Lerato Khati, aka Lakuti, is becoming an increasingly important figure in international dance music circles. Born in South Africa, she moved to London in 1997 and soon started the Süd Electronic parties alongside fellow countryman Alan Abrahams, aka Portable. These events ran for eleven years and showcased some of the most forward-thinking spinners on the planet.
In 2007, she established Uzuri Recordings and later the Uzuri Artist Booking & Management Agency. As a DJ, she’s played Fabric, Panorama Bar, Plastic People, Boiler Room and many more. She’s also contributed vocals to tracks for Abraham’s alter-ego Bodycode and Matias Aguayo, and she’s remixed The Knife.
She handled this Q&A whilst on a tour of the US with her wife, famed Panorama Bar resident Tama Sumo, with whom she currently resides in Berlin.
What are you up to at the moment?
Myself and Tama Sumo are currently on a DJ tour of the USA, taking in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and finishing off in San Francisco. In between all of that I am still having to keep up with running Uzuri Recordings artist bookings and management, so having to keep up with two different time zones.
You’re a DJ, label head, promoter, booking agent, all-around music biz bod – which role gives you the most satisfaction?
I am a bit of a workaholic. I concentrate my energies on the agency and then the label, and the deejaying comes after that. I also used to also promote events in London under the Süd Electronic tag. Nowadays I have slowed down on that and occasionally programme some events alongside Tama Sumo at Berghain / Panorama Bar. I’ve also had the opportunity to put a programme together at Lux in Lisbon, and Oval Space in London in 2016.
All of these roles bring satisfaction to me and a chance to further explore and dissect the recording industry from top to bottom as it is necessary if we are going to forge ahead with the changes that do need to happen – if we are going to keep the whole thing as revolutionary as it needs to be.
We would have partied together at 4th World – what are your most abiding memories from the early Jo’burg rave scene?
How amazing! 4th World is to me what the Paradise Garage was to New Yorkers and the Music Box and The Warehouse were to Chicagoans. It changed everything and my life path. I do not think many South Africans realise just quite the cultural impact it had on many of us and just how great the early ‘90’s Johannesburg electronic music party scene was.
What is happening on your label Uzuri?
We have a release by a young artist from North Italy called Reekee which features a Glenn Underground remix out on 12 December, and plenty more releases coming from acts like The Neighbourhood Character – a young Berlin-based female producer originally from Oakland, California – Ksoul and Muteoscillator will return for a full EP; another Giorgio Luceri EP and an EP by Autre. Plus plenty of surprises along the way. I would be so happy to work with South Africans though.
Do you keep up with the music happening in South Africa and who do you rate?
I try my best to be up-to-date and have my finger on the pulse. It’s not so easy, I must admit, when you are that far away. I am currently all about Nosizwe, a South African who was born in Norway and relocated to South Africa post-94 before going back to Norway. Her debut album just out titled ‘In Fragments’ on So Real International is lovely.
Another South African abroad who is pushing the boundaries is Portable. I like what Sai and Ribatone are doing. Faka are stamping the queer into the music and bringing the avant garde into the proceedings.
One thing that needs to happen though in SA is that the young and the old need to start working together as South Africa has some of the best musicians in the world, with experience, having toured the world or worked in the jazz scene whilst in exile. A lot of these musicians have come home and find themselves on the edge of society with their services no longer required. Where is the intersectionality? What missed opportunities.
Do you ever have thoughts about coming back to SA (even if just to skip the horrible European winters)?
I return home once a year for a visit so I am connected with the county still. Fascism is a growing concern in Europe so who knows what the future holds.
You’re a very freewheeling DJ – what are some of your current secret weapons (which won’t be secret after this is posted)?
Ron Trent with a dose of Kaidi Tatham; Donnie Tempo to gospel to Mark
Grusane; Rich Medina to Autre; plenty of unreleased material on Uzuri and so forth.
You’re back for the Coquette Sessions with Tama next year – what can people expect?
This will be our first time playing Coquette. We are very much looking forward to the the event; a little workshop / empowerment session before playing our favourite music is what is on offer.
Interview by Greg Bowes