Deep, soulful house music.
Audiences know Lerato Khathi as Lakuti, a staple at hallowed institutions like Panorama Bar and Freerotation festival, often spotted behind the decks with Tama Sumo. Behind the scenes, though, her work encompasses a few different roles, each of which found her more than the other way around. Having moved to London from South Africa in the '90s, she started a series of parties called Süd Electronic together with her lifelong friend Alan Abrahams, AKA Portable. Abrahams had some music he wanted to put out but wasn't sure where to do it. Khati solved the problem by launching Süd Electronic, securing funding from The Prince's Trust to do so. Years later, having observed the craft with which she plied her trade, a friend asked her to be their booking agent. She had no experience, but gave it a go. One thing led to another and she started an agency, Uzuri, which by now has spent a decade bookings artists like Levon Vincent, Joey Anderson and Fred P at clubs and festivals around the world.
As a DJ, booking agent and curator of Uzuri Recordings, Khati pushes a sound as open-ended as it is distinct: deep and richly organic, touched by a rawness that echoes her first love, Chicago house. This scuffed and sultry style has soundtracked her winding journey through dance music's underground, and is perfectly encapsulated in RA.603.
What have you been up to recently?
Aside from moaning about the weather and the darkness and grey .-), it's been a busy year with running Uzuri Artist Bookings & Management. Traveling and playing records and discovering new places and meeting new people has been rather enjoyable as well.
Tama Sumo and I have had fun playing together loads as well as programming a few nights at Panorama Bar as well as in London under the Your Love banner. Working on Uzuri Recordings has been fulfilling as well, though sadly due to all the manufacturing issues we could not release everything we wanted to this year. Rediscovering my passion for reading of late, in particular political journals. I feel like it is crucial to really get a deep understanding of the political system we currently occupy in order to empower oneself to be able to deal with all the turmoil surrounding us.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded at home on a couple of Technics SL 1210 MK2 as well as a couple of Pioneer CDJ-2000-NXS and an E&S DJR400 mixer.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I wanted to highlight some of the records that I personally connected with of late as well as airing one or two oldies. I wanted to make the mix accessible in terms of highlighting records that are readily available at a decent price. I mean, the most expensive record on the mix is around €50 on Discogs but the rest are at regular prices. I also wanted to add some digital-only releases. In particular for house, I am finding the stuff that I am into more and more coming out only digitally. You have to go through a lot until you hit the nuggets but that is just part of the job anyway. Music is for everyone and everyone should have access to quality music, so I guess that was the big idea behind the mix, that and putting together different moods and still retaining some kind of flow. Well, I hope I did .-)
What's it like having so many different roles in music? What kind of perspective do you get from it that you wouldn't as just a DJ?
I love keeping busy. I get very edgy if I have nothing to do. Even when I am ill I will still have my laptop in bed with me to do a bit of work. I believe all the different hats I wear are interlinked. The funny thing is that the agency and the DJing kind of happened by chance really. I never actively pursued being a booker nor a DJ career. The agency came because I met a North American artist once whom I really rated musically. At the time I was putting on the Süd Electronic parties and I booked him. He was desperate for an agent and he thought I would make a good one. I was sceptical but decided to help him out and the agency grew from strength to strength. We will be ten years old in 2018.
With the DJing, I played some records at my own events but I never actively pursued a DJ career. I got into electronic music around 28 years ago in terms of house. Being a DJ was not really a career option. I went to law school and that was a career path that your parents were happy with. Things are different now. Starting a label as well came because of my friendship with Alan Abrahams, AKA Portable/Bodycode, a friend for the last 26 years. He was making music and had been since we were still in South Africa. When we moved to London, he needed an outlet for his music and we decided to do Süd. We applied for funding as we were poor and got money from The Prince's Trust. Thanks Charles :-) So the intense passion I felt for music and the need to help when my help was needed got me to this point. Studying and understanding every aspect of how the whole business works can only be an asset really.
Looking back on 2017, what have been some of the best gigs for you and your artists? Anything we might not know about?
I try and pick gigs that have a connection to what I am about so I have been very lucky to have gigs that were enjoyable in 2017. Been really happy and extremely proud of the artists I work with who share the same passion about the music and seeing them grow year after year and them travelling to new territories in 2017 has been a highlight.
What are you up to next?
The are things in the pipeline which I will only be able to talk about when everything is in place, so on to 2018 :-)