The word “experience,” in this frame and context, is used in an aesthetic sense, and for that it means, by definition, feeling the music and the energy that comes with it. This energy is not only individuated but also shared—communal. It is important that those who are experiencing the sound feel this thing, whether it is the same or not. What matters is that it exists. It can be said that what is felt is the min thing.
It is what brings differences together so that there is the congregation of feel(ing) and there is that one thing that keeps those who are in the groove together. This is that heavy thing, and everything is worked out in the space of the workshop of the soul so that this energy can be released, received, and recycled.
With the sound of deep house, things are going through a different route, and Kat La Kat (Kgakgamatso Tlholoe) is one of those who are at the forefront of this journey to a destination different. All there is to this is having to share his experience. In so doing, he tasks himself with the duty of making a difference. This difference is what defines this experience. For there to be an understanding of the mechanics of the soul, the thing that must be probed is how this music feels, and what it does to be felt the way it is felt. This can be narrated not only through the experience of the one who plays this music, but also those who listen to it. This is where the feeling is at when the experience is shared.
What is delivered by Kat La Kat comes as a result of ferociously consuming, exploring, studying, experimenting, and deeply listening to many genres that are beyond house music. It is doing what is different. The intensity of everything there is to music shows the spirit of seriousness because Kat La Kat is nothing but a music and sound enthusiast—a junkie as he often says. It all started at home with his parents, Sam and Lydia Tlholoe who, for their love of jazz and soul, made music to be a filial thing. Music collection is a bloodline thing, and the Walkman was a device that made Kat La Kat dwell in the world of hunting mixed tapes. He then went on to make his mixtapes in a form of a collage of genres, and the reason for this lies in his not being aware of the difference between genres. It was his uncle, Jones Tlholoe, who brought genre consciousness to him, and in high school, the taping of house music began. What is of interest is the rebirth that took place in the form of redubbing the mixtapes he had with house music. The hit of house music became a form and a firm dimension of things fundamentally deep.
1998 inaugurated the era of house compilations with DJ Fresh House Flavour Volume1 and the renaissance shepherded what will cement the authority of house music. House music was everywhere on radio waves, houses, taxis, cars, house parties, clubs, and yes, street bashes. During his early years in high school, house music inspired Kat La Kat to become a DJ. Additionally, he was more interested in hearing the full versions of the tracks he heard on compilations. This propelled his love for vinyl which he collected religiously even before he laid his hands on the decks. The mastery of mixing became a mystery for him, and it was during Valentine’s ball that he saw DJs, who were his senior schoolmates on the ones and twos. The DJs were Tino, Trio Nova, and Rib Q and they made an indexable mark on him which directed him to frequent record shops like Multiracial Record and For Real Records, both of which were in Hatfield. For two years, Kat La Kat bought vinyl and made these stores his second home after school. His grandmother, Kedibone Tlholoe, would add to his collection by giving him extra money.
From the age of sixteen, the Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria-born DJ started doing his trade from school. He would grow up to live for the passion and the love of being a DJ. This was the best choice, and it is what he would live by. There is no compromise with Kat La Kat's art, and he will live to advocate for deep underground house. Kat La Kat can be understood in terms of intensity. He gives it his all.
The different groove experience involves not only playing the music that will set the dance floor dancing but also letting the mind experience the sound of techno house. Kat La Kat's aesthetics can be mapped through this genre. He has always been deep and played deep house since the early 2000s.
In elevating the technique of mixing or dealing with the technicality of sound through mixing thus going beyond beat matching, sampling, and synchronizing, there is that beautiful sound that comes into being which makes deep house a force to be reckoned with. There is no doubt that Kat La Kat’s mixing is defined for its refinement. The reason for this is that he prepared for so long before he got his hands on the decks. A DJ's equipment was only available to Kat La Kat in 2005. As a result of this journey, he built a network of DJs and honed his craft even more until he occupied the DJ booth of clubs like Amaro every Friday. This club was owned by the father of his friend, and a fellow techno connoisseur Julian Gomez. Another spot that Kat La Kat played was Viper Lounger and that is where he met a lot of DJs from Mabopane.
It is worth emphasizing the obvious that Kat La Kat takes what he does very seriously and that also means that things are done at a high level of intensification. As a DJ who has been in the field, doing things deeply, going deep, he draws from numerous musical resources. All there is to music is what he squeezes out and that comes to clarify why he is even more audacious to do what is out of the script of the popular and the mainstream. The fact remains that Kat La Kat is an intense cat. In the sphere of sound, he inhales and exhales everything. In short, he comes for everything. If there is something that is not or less intense, this is not what Kat La Kat is. Everything is intense and that makes the experience unusual. It is what refuses to be graspable to what is the mainstream palate. Things that are outside the mainstream are different.
Of course, this will not appeal to a huge following, but there is that building of the underground movement which comes together in the name of the experience of techno house. It is from the difference that Kat La Kat is and that is the cosmos where things are happening.
His music is the anarchic inscription of playing what radically insists on freedom. Playing what comes from the soul, giving it to the world, and working through the mechanics of the sonic to register the meaning of what deep techno house is in South Africa, is the pedagogic task that Kat La Kat undertakes. There is nothing more meaningful than playing what the DJ only wants but deeply feels—that is to say, playing love, from the heat. It is having to share the experience of the music that lies at the core (the heart of the DJ).
The lucidity of deep techno lies in having to understand sound as the mechanics of explosion which means getting inside the sound and rupturing it from within. Things are different and they must be the way they are. It is in this difference that the aesthetics of authenticity is what happens in the study of the sound that Kat La Kat delivers. This is much more like him not compromising his art to play tracks that are circulating in popular circles. It is his music that he delivers, and he shares what he usually says in emphasizing experience. It is all about this experience and nothing else. It is not a matter of liking what he plays or not. It is him doing what he must do, sharing the experience of having to sound authentic. The thing about this is having to ensure that this sound deserves to be out there, and it must be in the way that people feel about the reality they are experiencing.
That thing that is in the sound of deep techno, and what is done with it, makes such music to be the best thing that has ever happened, and it will forever be. The rare grooves that inform the grooves that Kat La Kat carefully selects, and curates make a difference. It is having to encounter what is unfamiliar and bringing it through sounds and mixes which come as if they are automatic while that is not the case. There is the work that unfolds when those smooth mixes are magisterially executed to make the intensive track after the next sound as if there is nothing different between them while they are rolling—on and on—grooving until the body drops.
By sharing the experience with those who love techno house, Kat La Kat is going all intense to hit those who love this music with a bang. He wants them to feel what he feels when he is spinning those ones and twos. It will not be amiss to see his animated dance whether he is on the decks or the dance floor. It is known that Kat La Kat is a great dancer, no chances! His body moves just like he is moving the music on the decks.
This is his first love, and it is something that he never turned his back on. Wanting to make the dance scene different and opening the expansive archive of deep house, and the contemporary inventions that are produced and released, Kat La Kat has been wanting to give more through deep techno. Thus, going deep, he is audacious to share the experience of this music. Of course, this might seem like an unfamiliar sound. But it is known that South Africa, as a territory, has been the hub of different genres and sub-genres of house music. It is Kat La Kat’s staunch devotion to deep techno that has made him be cast in indifferent mode and dismissed by doubters and critics on how his different sound will alienate those who follow his music. He knew that there was something in him that drove him to embrace this different experience and that being something urgent and the thing that is forever urgent to be shared. There was no turning back for him, he did what he had to do—leaping. If there is anywhere that Kit La Kat is going, it is forward, far even. It could not be expected that those who criticized him for being intense to understand what he was on about because he is deep. Also, to this effect, if they liked him before and never like him now, of course for the sound he plays, it would be accepted his efforts to win them back will be in vain.
Going out of his way to do his best and, more importantly, what he loves most, this could be nothing but the drive whose intensity means not compromising anything to be “liked.” Kat La Kat is that DJ who takes the booth with ferocity and passion. It is the energy he oozes from the booth that will span the entire dance floor. The powerful sound system, which is the medium of his message, and techno house being the content of his message, stand to signify how intensity is the larger part of the experience.
Ultimately, those who are on the dance floor must be in one spirit with the DJ. They must engage in the experience of being lost and found in the sound of techno house whose depth and latitude take things elsewhere. Even if this sub-genre is known in terms of how it sounds, the most important thing is what the DJ does with it. There lies something important, and this is what Kat La Kat does in not only playing differently; but making a difference. The very commitment to changing from 2009 and right to the contemporary moment, does not mean that the question is sounding relevant or not but searching and sharing that experience which is something that has meaning. Put simply, it must be meaningful to those who feel this music. The deep way Kat La Kat goes with his sets, and starting with a bang and without building up, clearly means that he wants things to be intense right from the In 2007 Kat La Kat focused on producing music. This is where the larger part of his transformation happened, and he focused on Afro-house. This was his thing but when he gets booked to DJ he will play deep techno. He made a breakthrough and also faced impediments.beginning right to the end.
Having listened to and felt his sets, these must not only be the begging of more but ensuring that this music is understood as a generous gift bestowed to those who are willing to open their hearts to it. The realm of the sensorium is what deep techno speaks to and that is intense communication, thus the urgency of the DJ who works this music out means that the ways of understanding must be changed. Things must be different and that is because the music is going in another direction. Upon putting his ear on the ground listening to DJ 2lani The Warrior (Thulani Ntuli), he heard this constant deep techno. Having to continue on Afro-house, led to Kat La Kat turning his back on it and taking a break. And, upon coming back, it was deep techno through and through. Even if he was known for Afro-house, he stuck to what his heart loved and went to deep sounds. He never compromised and from 2010 to 2011 gigs dried up—no bookings, nothing. Playing in Johannesburg in 2012 made a difference as there was deep house scene was not saturated. After playing at Oppie Koppie and playing at numerous festivals, Kat La Kat went, even more, deeper in deep techno. Having to play at AND Club and hosting scenes there, he played deep house at a higher tempo.
Taking those who love house music elsewhere is what Kat La Kat does. This is the music that has boundless worlds, and he is the one who defamiliarizes what is in the mainstream palate to the domain of its “otherness.” By gesturing to this domain, and thus breaking the paths and making sure that the barriers that stand before him do not matter, the persistence of getting down to work on this sound, has yielded fruit. It cannot be disputed that Kat La Kat is the legend of his craft and he is revered by his peers and followers, the latter of different hues. With the authoritative discography and the successful production under his name; having been associated with reputable house music gigantic stables like House Afrika, Cabana Recordings, Nulu Records, Next Dimension Music, New Generations and others, he continues to make his mark.
Kat La Kat’s discography includes Burns All Day (2022), Flow State (2020), The Sun EP (2019), the latter with BillowJazz (Rea Mojapela). It is from these sonic narratives that the experience is shared with intense rhythmic mixes. With these albums, here is the offering. The same offering is even delivered when he is doing it live on the DJ set to deliver the experience on the dance floor.
If the fire burns, it also has many essential functions like releasing heat and projecting light, and it does, among many other things, destroy. Is that the only thing? It is said and believed that the Deep Vibes series were on fire. Now there is a different conception of fire, and it is not only figurative or literal, but it is what it is in-itself. But for there to be fire, and that being associated with what Kat La Kat does, there is always ignition, combustion, and oxygen. This is what happens when the fire razes, and it can only get intense if there is no extinguishing. The fire burns what is flammable. It will consume and turn what is burnt to ashes or shell-like form, deformed things even—or, for that matter, eliminating what was there.
Fire is one element of the universe. What the fire has consumed becomes deformed and ashy. It will never be the same again. The fire burns, it also glows. Its intensity is what forms the experience that becomes different. Setting the soul of fire is what Kat La Kat does when he marshals his sound.
His being an experienced organizer, makes his gigs stand out. The start of all this should be marked with his 21st birthday party in 2001 which he says was hectic. It is from this event that he called DJs from different hoods in Pretoria. As it is known, the ritual of these parties is littered with speeches from family and friends. Well, in Kat La Kat’s one there was no such a thing. It was, to be exact, 6 to 6. It was music only. Yes, deep house throughout, nonstop. The feeling was that this party should continue. Stating that the party was big and on fire, the 21st birthday party was to continue serially the Kat La Kat Annual Party and it is known that African Beer Emporium has been a seminal host.
Many other events are in Kat La Kat’s name and one thing that stands out is how his line-ups are curated. Female DJs are what he prioritizes, and they are not in graveyard but prime sets. As a regular host of events, he makes his line-ups to be intense and noticeable.
At this contemporary moment, the offering can be felt at Kat La Kat Fuego Fridays. Before this, there has been KLK Fridays, and they have been running on high steam. Now with Kat La Kat Fuego Fridays, things are hot. Fuego is the Spanish word which means fire. It is at Kitcheners, Braamfontein where Fuego Fridays take place. Kat La Kat used to play a lot there before he hosted his gigs there. He says he brings the heat to the kitchen. This came as a result of revellers complaining that there was a lot of heat at Kitcheners because it is small and intimate. His friend Tsholofelo Moremi, coined the word “fuego” in line with him bringing heat to the kitchen—yes, The Kitcheners. Even here, female DJs are given a platform to bring the heat to the crowd. This is the event that he hosts at this spot where those who love all things intense in so far as house is concerned are going. In his album, which is on fire, Burns All Day, there is a track titled “Fuego.” Kat La Kat takes fire seriously, and it means that things must burn.
Tight DJ line-ups are there to deliver nothing but the best of whatever comes with the name deep there is. This is the aesthetic of deep whose fire comes through the sound of deep techno, and he always features solo or back-to-back in this fire he is burning from the DJ booth.
Things are going not only far but deep. Kat La Kat is the channel of techno house with many other luminary DJs to make sure that the dance floor experiences a different sound experience. Since house music is a big house of the multitude, it has to have different sub-genres. For sure, all should be heard, there are different tastes. This is what experience is. Kat La Kat is all for that experience, a different one. Yes, experience qua experiment.