Lakuti: On her moving to Europe, her achievements, Uzuri Recordings & more
Forward-thinking, creative, fearless and innovative are some of the words you can use to describe South African born DJ and entrepreneur, Lerato Khathi – more popularly known as Lakuti. Having been based in Europe for over twenty years, fulfilling different roles in the music industry, she has built up a strong name for herself in the international dance music scene.
After spending so much time building and improving the independent dance music scene in the UK, she has rubbed shoulders and collaborated with some of the world’s most respected and celebrated dance music pioneers such as Larry Heard, Boo Williams and Juan Atkins, booking them for events and giving them a platform to share their artistry. As a DJ, she has showcased the strength of her ear by appearing on platforms such as Boiler Room, Worldwide FM, Plastic People, Fabric and Panorama/Berghain Bar.
Her work as an artist manager, booking agent and event curator is rooted in her passion for introducing new talent, sounds and ideas to the masses. Inclusivity forms a big part in her work as a creative entrepreneur. Now based in Berlin, Lakuti continues to disrupt the international dance music scene with her groundbreaking ideas with her partner, Berlin-based DJ – Tama Sumo.
We had a short Q&A with her ahead of her performance at Kitcheners on the 11th of January. Check it out.
You moved to Europe in the late 90s and have built up a solid name for yourself in the international DJ space. It is without doubt that you have a storied career. What do you feel has been your greatest achievement?
I moved to the UK in March 1997. For the first four months, I was based in Newcastle before moving to London where I was based for 15 years right up to the end of 2011. I went to the UK with 400 pounds in my pocket which vanished in no time. My greatest achievement was to forge an independent path for myself, being able to start a label and establish the Süd Electronic parties and bring artists such as the godfather of techno, Detroit’s Juan Atkins, Lil Louis, Boo Williams amongst many other celebrated international artists and often bringing artists that had never played in the UK before, was something I was very proud of. To be able to also organize these parties for 11 years and provide something that was truly alternative and inclusive is something I am very proud of.
You seem to have a very multifaceted approach to creativity and the business of it. How do you balance being a business person and a creative? Or do you view everything as one?
I have a holistic approach to work and day time working as an agent representing other artists. I work in a creative field therefore even in the office we are always striving to bring a fresh and creative energy to what we do. Embracing the new and change all the time without losing our roots and focus.
Many South Africans that are aware of what you do are very clued on your work as one the main people behind Uzuri Recordings. Please tell us about some of your other projects or roles in the global music industry.
Apart from establishing and running Uzuri Recordings solo, I work as an agent. I founded Uzuri Artist Bookings & Management which turned 10 years old in 2018 and I am very proud of our roster. Very happy and humbled to have been given the opportunity to programme Panorama/Berghain Bar, one of the internationally celebrated clubs since 2015 alongside my partner Tama Sumo. I’m also happy to have launched a new music and culture (particularly focused on live music as well as culturally relevant discussions) platform, ‘Bring Down The Walls ‘ alongside Tama Sumo, which we launched back in September with a live performance by the Legendary Larry Heard who featured Mr White. Tama Sumo and I also run a series of events very sporadically in London under the banner ‘Your Love‘. We are actually bringing Your Love to Cape town on the 19th of January to Wonderland club. I have been truly humbled to be able to travel the world as a DJ as well. 2018 was good to me, I got to do more than 90 gigs which saw me play festivals and gigs throughout Europe as well as touring the USA.
You are set to perform at Kitcheners alongside Maria McCloy, SNO and Tama Sumo. How important do you feel that such events are for the South African scene?
I love the approach that is being pushed at Kitcheners which is striving for visibility for everyone not just men, so that is important. It enriches our music community. I love the fact that this is such a diverse line up musically as well. There is so much good music out there that needs to be celebrated and it is a shame to me to not absorb it all as a music lover. The tendency to just focus on genres instead of absorbing the rich music tapestry in it’s full glory is a great modern tragedy.
When playing gigs at home, what do you aim to give or express through your sets to the people in attendance?
When playing at home I hope to break music that people may not be too familiar and to bring a different approach that may not be hugely popular here with hopes of bringing something new to the table.
Catch Lakuti performing alongside SNO, Maria McCloy and Tama Sumo at the coolest bar on the khona.