Black Coffee at Echostage - 11.2.19

By Evan in DJ's, Echostage
Thursday, June 27, 2019, 1:00pm. (Updated: 11/04/19 at 12:28pm) Add comments
#AFTERglow Presents:

Black Coffee


THEMBA, Ameer Brooks

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

 2135 Queens Chapel Road NE • Washington, DC

Doors: 9 PM | No dress code | Ages 18+
Bottle Service: | 202.503.2331


Considering his meteoric rise to fame, it would be easy to stereotype Black Coffee as just another black diamond, a BEE beat magnet out to mine the insatiable upwardly mobile urban house party market. But as he proved on his South African Music Award-winning album Home Brewed, this DJ and producer defies convention. Sidestepping Afro-house cliches and stage-managed highs in favor of restrained sophistication, Black Coffee’s penchant is for true Afropolitan house: home-brewed but fresh and future-focused. Expect almost sculptural balance and beauty.

If one heard a clamor and ululating emanating from the eastern provinces of South Africa, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape, announcing the recognition of a cultural phenomenon and their role in the development of this cultural phenomenon, one could not argue were that the clamor and ululating be in respect of the soul, spirit, talent and vision that is Nkosinathi Innocent Maphumulo, better known as Black Coffee. Black Coffee was born in Durban in KwaZulu Natal and grew up in the Eastern Cape in Mthatha, before moving back to Durban to study music at Natal Tech where he majored in Jazz. His reason for studying music was because he felt that as a producer, he had to deepen his overall musical knowledge, develop his listening skills and advance his knowledge of music theory. Leaving tech prior to completion of his studies, Black Coffee with two friends Thandukwazi Demor Sikhosana and Mnqobi Shota Mdabe worked as backup vocalists for the renowned Madala Kunene. Deciding then to form an urban soul trio “Shana” the three moved to Johannesburg to make their way.

Keeping “Simply Hot And Naturally African” (the meaning of Shana) together as an ongoing project, the three also pursued their individual visions, collaborating on the way. Black Coffee was chosen as one of two South African participants in the Red Bull Music Academy in 2003 jump-starting him into the South African DJ scene – a decision he says he has never looked back on. His first big break was when his song “Happiness” was featured on the DJs At Work album.

2005, the same year as the release of Black Coffee’s powerful debut album Black Coffee saw the birth and formation of Soulistic Music, Black Coffee’s wholly owned 360° corporate structure, his team’s home base and the jump-off point for himself, and as time has evidenced for many others too. Black Coffee revealed that his first album was created using very basic music-making software. “I don’t know how to explain the production stages of my album because all I did was put down the basic ideas that I had, I didn’t use any MIDI controllers everything was played with a computer mouse.” He added that the use of live instruments in a song is also very important, giving a track that final magic touch and bringing it to life. A view through the Black Coffee ‘lens’, at the end of 2011, confirms a delightful, fresh and truly heart warming vista of dynamic and exciting creative production, glimpses of a genius unfolding and degree’s of difficulty, challenge and hardship. To many Black Coffee has led the ‘house music’ way.. establishing a global pre-eminence in vocal house music and a business approach structured to unlock the plethora of opportunities offered by a converged digital realm driven by the songs and their performance.

Reserved, studiously academic, inventive, imaginative, quiet, enigmatic, shy and bold are but few of the ways in which many across the world perceive Black Coffee. No matter how he is seen he remains one of few DJs who genuinely understands the precise function of a music disc jockey: he does not simply mix songs, he re-interprets their previously un-imagined musical possibilities, adapting and arranging as each work advises and so quietly creating new works that give life. When he debuted his interpretation of Hugh Masekela’s rambunctious jazz hit Stimela, Black Coffee simply demonstrated how it was possible to rework the South African canon music vault into club music, creating works that were acceptable to both the young and the old, a feat not easily achievable. It has required a decidedly original-inclined, singular mind in order to pursue this kind of music trajectory and the gold and platinum awards since are testimony to his resolve.

2007 brought another powerful Black Coffee release Have Another One which featured amongs others a host of great female vocalists including the likes of Bucie, Siphokhazi and Busi Mhlongo at the helm of an array of original works. With world demand and interest in a Black Coffee performance starting to stand up and shout, he began a new phase of growth in 2008 with a string of new Soulistic Music signed releases from Culoe de Song, Tumelo and the great Zakes Bantwini which all achieving gold and platinum sales. In 2009 Black Coffee dropped his third offering, titled Home Brewed, featuring Ringo Madlingozi, Zonke, Hugh Masekela, Zakes Bantwini and others, and at the South African Music Awards in 2010 he scooped two awards in the categories Best Urban Dance Album and Best Male Artist.

Highlights during 2011 included a nomination for the 2011 MTV Europe Awards in the Africa, India and Middle East category for Best Worldwide Act, the launch of Africa Rising and its first presentation (which included a 24-piece orchestra along with a band and featured artists performing Black Coffee’s works) at Moses Mabhida Stadium, four releases on the Soulistic label including Culoe de Song’s Elevation, Sai & Ribatone’s Here and Now, Boddhi Satva’s Invocation, the label’s Soulistic Cuts and a Channel O Award for Most Talented Male Artist. In 2012, Black Coffee’s Africa Rising DVD and CD (triple CD) featuring artists such as Bucie and the soulful Toshi Tikolo on international house hit Buya, garnered double platinum sales status in the space of a single month and went on to win Best Dance Album at the 2013 South African Music Awards. All of this transpiring shortly after Soulistic Music announced signing Thembisa born rising DJ star Shimza to the imprint.

Over the past 10 years, Soulistic Music under Black Coffee’s leadership has built a worldwide network of exclusive track licenses, tours and agents giving Black Coffee and other Soulistic Music artists their break into the international touring market where they have become regular features in cities from Sydney to New York, London to Luanda and Los Angeles to Athens. Black Coffee continued to grow his profile internationally during 2013, gracing the decks at Cape Town Electronic Music Festival, Southport Weekender, ADE and for Berlin’s Panorama Bar, Circoloco in Ibiza and Boiler Room. He also forged a strong relationship with Bridges For Music by taking up the role of official spokesperson and ambassador for the music charity initiative.

Fast forward to present day and it’s starkly evident that the past 24 months have been no less than a roller coaster of career milestones, accolades and achievements for the Durban born musical savant. Attention grabbing performances for the likes of Ultra South Africa, FabricLive, BPM Festival, Ballantines Boiler Room Stay True, Sonar Barcelona, Mixmag Live, SW4 held court alongside an 8-date North American tour, RMBA debut tour of Japan, two consecutive seasons as a one of Circoloco’s most talked about residents and a 2015 World Tour this past summer spanning 4 continents and 17 countries in 5 months has elevated Black Coffee into the realm of global superstar in waiting.

In addition to that, he also launched the Black Coffee Foundation Scholarship with SAE and Bridges For Music, scooped Breakthrough DJ and Dance Nation Of The Year for South Africa at the 2015 DJ Awards and unveiled his 5th artist album titled Pieces of Me to an African audience in September 2015. Both Pieces of Me and the debut album single We Dance Again featuring vocalist Nakhane Touré triumphantly laid claim to the #1 spot on iTunes and the album went on to reach double platinum status within 3 months of release.

In July 2015, Black Coffee headlined Mixmag Live in London to impressive acclaim and graced the cover of the August edition of the magazine. Mixmag described him as, “Not only is he one of the few African artists making a global impression on house music, right now Black Coffee is possibly the single most exciting DJ on the planet.” And as 2015 drew to a close, accolades continued to roll in unabated. Black Coffee became the first African DJ to be selected by BBC Radio 1 to deliver his 2-hour musical journey for the prestigious Essential Mix.

In a hugely significant moment for South African music, Red Bull revealed an official limited edition Black Coffee hero can, dedicated legacy website and accompanying campaign centered around celebrating the first decade of immense success achieved by SA’s house music luminary. Black Coffee is the second only musical artist and first person of color to be singled out and depicted on a Red Bull commemorative can. Apple Music released their annual Best Of list and Black Coffee featured front-center as the music giant named him Best Artist and awarded Best Song to hit track, We Dance Again. Acclaimed online electronic music magazine Resident Advisor released its 2015 Top 100 DJ poll ranking Black Coffee 53rd alongside revered peers such as Dixon, Maceo Plex, Jamie Jones and Seth Troxler. And Mixmag staff and contributors voted Black Coffee into the #3 spot of their Top 10 DJs of 2015.

As 2016 kicked off, Black Coffee was honored with an Ubuntu Arts and Cultural Diplomacy Award alongside legendary musician Hugh Masekela. The award recognizes excellence, innovation, creativity, social responsibility and patriotism exhibited by individuals who have distinguished themselves as true ambassadors of South Africa. Black Coffee wrapped WMC in Miami earlier this year where he played for Mixmag, Ultra Music Festival and at Diddy’s exclusive UMF Afterparty before embarking on an extensive 5-month international tour that will include performances for Coachella, Snowbombing, Elrow, Melt! Festival, South West Four, Sea Dance Festival, Full Moon Festival, Solomun + 1 and his continued residency at Circoloco at DC10.

Black Coffee continued his path of global domination at the 22nd annual SAMAs this past June by scooping Album of the Year, Best Dance Album and Best Engineered Album for Pieces of Me. And was also honored with a prestigious International Achievement Award. Later that same month, to the immense pride and pleasure of an entire nation, Black Coffee made history by becoming the first South African to win a BET Award. He was recognized in the Best International Act: Africa category whilst attending the 3-day awards festivities in Los Angeles. Notwithstanding an already unfathomably stellar year, Black Coffee surprised fans across the globe with a re-work of the Alicia Keys track In Common. Black Coffee’s retake released on July 1 as part of a 5-track remix package, drew unprecedented praise and resulted in over 8 million accumulative YouTube plays to date. In late 2016, “Pieces of Me’ was released worldwide through US record label Ultra Music followed shortly thereafter by a new 5-track EP titled “The Journey Continues” on Soulistic Music.

In 2017 Black Coffee and Drake dropped “Get It Together” with vocals from Jorja Smith on Drake’s album, More Life – the track was originally produced back in 2007, with vocals by South African superstar songstress Bucie and was released as “Superman”. Over the last 18 months, Black Coffee’s signature sound has landed him in the studio alongside some of the world’s greatest including Diddy, Usher, Akon, Pharell Williams and most recently the legendary David Guetta for the just released single “Drive” featuring vocalist Delilah Montagu. In just a matter of years, Black Coffee has become one of the top touring performers in the world. During 2017, Black Coffee held an 18-week residency at Hi Ibiza (previously Space), which is the island’s new hots-pot run by The Ushuaia Group, with a capacity of approximately 7,000. His residency invited some of the world’s most famous DJs to play with him under one roof and resumed for a 2nd 20- show run in May 2018. With just one month to go until the Ibiza 2018 season draws to a close, Black Coffee Saturdays at Hi Ibiza has surpassed all expectations, growing exponentially to current status as the biggest night on the island. Black Coffee’s full tour schedule of more than 250 shows a year continued unabated during 2017 and 2018 and most notably included his return to Coachella, Tomorrowland, a residency at Wynn in Las Vegas and festivals, venues and events across 4 continents as well as hosting his Black Coffee Block Party to 30 000 people on the streets of Jo’burg and Durban in SA. From family, to community, to clan, to culture, to country, to the world; all are blessed with the prodigious talent and productivity of such a great creative genius, as is Black Coffee.


Walking the walk into the next phase…

In the latter part of 2018, BLOND:ISH moved into a new phase in their history, with Vivie-ann Bakos taking sole charge of the DJ double-act she originally shared with Anstascia D’Elene Corniere. This pivotal change demanded an all-embracing refresh of the BLOND:ISH biography. A modernization of the BLOND:ISH life story so far. And that’s what you’re reading now. If you’re reading this at all, that is. “Because sometimes I wonder if people even read DJ bios anymore,” Vivie-ann laughs when we ask her what she hopes to convey here. “Ultimately I just want people to be inspired,” she continues. “But I also want people to read it to the end!”

Vivie-ann explains that engaging you, the reader of this bio, all the way to the end is our job. The only other instruction we’re given is not to mention the word ‘spirituality’ too much. Because even though Vivie-ann is electronic music’s most celebrated mystic thinker and ecological revolutionary, she doesn’t want to sound cheesy or, worse still, like she’s preaching. Which is fair enough. After all, there’s no need to force a change that is already upon us. Because although there was a time when spirituality was considered a delirium of the fringe, counter-cultural themes like yoga, tantra, cosmic astrology, mindfulness and eco-awareness are fast becoming part and parcel of our everyday existence, not to mention our daily vocabulary, promoting a new wave of positivity and self responsibility that continues to change our lives for the better. People everywhere are starting to get it. And it would appear that BLOND:ISH is tasked with smoothing our transition into this new way of thinking.

One of the core components of this expanding global culture is the so-called nomadic dance scene, which was forged at Burning Man in the searing heat of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Psychedelic house, trippy techno – whatever you want to call this burgeoning dance-floor sound defined by ineffable moods and real instrumentation – when it comes to driving the scene forward, both musically and conceptually, BLOND:ISH leads the way. “The music I play is uplifting and positive,” Vivie-ann explains. “There’s no darkness, no minimal. My download in terms of musical vibe is to present positive, happy and inspirational house and techno music to excite your seven senses. Sometimes it’s music that sounds fun, sometimes it’s music that sounds nostalgic and sometimes it’s music that makes you think. I usually save the deeper, more contemplative sounds to intro my sets or when I need to add a little extra intensity to my music in those key moments when I can see the crowd are locked into the vibe and I know I can really take them on a journey!”

Vivie-ann isn’t crazy about using labels to define her sound and that’s about as close as she’s prepared to get when it comes to the gentrification of her music. “Words are limiting,” she explains. “Without getting too philosophical, the music I play is just part of the overall party experience.” If you’ve been lucky enough to catch BLOND:ISH performing in Ibiza, you’ll know exactly what Vivie-ann is talking about. Whether she’s fronting for international dance brand Circoloco, artisan headliners such as Black Coffee or the more esoterically aligned WooMooN, there’s no debating the fact that a BLOND:ISH DJ set can open up sacred portals to differing realities, affording access to those largely unexplored realms of awareness existent beyond the audible perception of the human ear.

When it comes to invigorating the conscious awareness of her fans, Vivie-ann’s own ABRA party – an offshoot of her ABRACADABRA record label – goes even further. There you’ll discover cinnamon dust hanging like aphrodisiac on the ether, while layered bin-aural frequencies broadcast over the loudspeaker system, intensifying the hypnotic vibe on the dance floor. It’s the synthesis of these many sensory nuances woven into the fabric of Vivie-ann’s DJ performances that makes a BLOND:ISH show truly unique. Vivie-ann isn’t only dropping beautiful records, she’s also sharing her ethos on how the world might look and sound when we decide to inject a little more love, thought and passion into everything we do. You’ll find the same theme underpinning ‘Welcome To The Present’, the contemplative long player released on Kompact back in 2015. Marked by poignant moods, angelic susurrations and most importantly an axiomatic self-awareness of its own eternal existence in the now, ‘Welcome To The Present’ exemplifies the BLOND:ISH doctrine better than any combination of words ever could.

In addition to making a positive difference to the world via the medium of music, Vivie-ann also believes that today’s top-tier DJs can tap into their celebrity with a view to using their voice to promote positive change within the industry. “DJs have such a close connection to their community,” she says, “and our fans really listen to us. I want to take the influence of music to the next level. And I’m hoping we can all evolve together.”

BLOND:ISH recently launched a campaign called Bye Bye Plastic aimed at persuading dance music venues across the world to quit using single-use plastics. “In our first campaign all the DJs involved are going to change their riders,” Vivie-ann explains. “It will be a coordinated effort across the scene with somewhere between 50 and 100 DJs involved. We have plans to connect with more artists after that.”

And team BLOND:ISH aren’t going to stop there. As soon as the use of plastic cups, straws and water bottles has been reduced, “the next bit of homework that we need to focus on as an industry is making sure we’re not ruining the paradisaical ecosystems we’re visiting. I’m so connected to the trees, to the jungle and to nature.” Vivie-ann continues. “I love outdoors venues period; DJing with my shoes off with the crowd not too far away. As DJs, promoters and ravers we’re constantly searching for these new paradise locations. But the most important thing as consumers is that when we do visit these new places we’re not creating lots of waste. I’ve spent so much time in Playa del Carmen these last few years and I’ve seen how it’s changed. We’re all going there with good intentions, but because we don’t have the right tools we’re in danger of ruining it. As a scene we need to figure out how we can party without harming those sensitive ecosystems.”

Clearly there’s a lot of work to be done. And if the human race truly has reached a musical, cultural, social, political and ecological juncture in its history then perhaps we’re all going to have to make some changes if we want the party to romp along at the same wild pace.

Vivie-ann Bakos has a vision of what those changes might be. But she doesn’t profess to having all the answers. And the last thing she wants to do is sound like a preacher. Yet at the same time she’s not going to back down. Why? Because she’s on a mission. A cosmic, fun-filled musical journey that involves the best nightclubs in Ibiza, her beloved Tulum, Scorpios Mykonos, as well as scene defining festivals such as Burning Man and Coachella. It’s a mission that involves connecting with her fans. Sharing an inspirational vision of unadulterated positivity on the dance floor and in the studio. But ultimately BLOND:ISH promotes taking the right path. Doing the right thing. Discovering your own truth. Realizing that dance music truly can be a power for good. And not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.


South African native Themba burst onto the global dance scene in 2018 with a string of high profile gigs and music releases. This summer Themba is based in Ibiza as resident DJ at Black Coffee’s party at Hi, with shows at Ushuaia, Amnesia, Blue Marlin and Heart, while also touring in over 20 other countries. Themba’s sound is forged from his African roots, incorporating local singers, songwriters and percussionists to create his own unique take on electronic music. His ‘Paliva EP’ and ‘Haai EP’ were both released on Knee Deep In Sound in 2018 and ‘Vuma / Lost’ thereafter on Yoshitoshi Recordings. The highly acclaimed ‘Who Is Themba?’ on Themba’s own Herd imprint remained in the Beatport chart for going on almost a year after it’s release. Themba’s music has seen strong support from Black Coffee, Adam Beyer, Pete Tong, Hot Since 82, Damian Lazarus, Masters At Work and many more of the world’s most influential taste-makers.

Themba’s debut year in 2018 saw him play the Resistance, Elrow, supporting Faithless on tour and the Corona Sunset festival all in South Africa as well as supporting Black Coffee on a multi-date UK tour. Other highlights included his residency at Hi in Ibiza and a Mixmag Lab Live in NYC both with Black Coffee. Themba also made his debut at Ushuaia, Blue Marlin and Pacha in Ibiza. Themba was made an ambassador of the Bridges For Music charity in South Africa, something very close to his heart. Themba and Dubfire hosted a workshop for young students at their school in Langa, which aims to become a learning space and creative hub where young, talented individuals are able to pursue their dreams and develop music skills, both in production and the music business.

Early 2019 saw Themba play at the Brixton O2 Academy in London, warming up for Black Coffee, the Luciano & Friends party in Tulum Mexico and Paris Fashion week with Nic Fanciulli. At this year’s Miami Music Week, Themba played at the Black Coffee and All Gone Pete Tong shows, where his set was used as the BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix for Pete Tong’s show that week.

Capturing the industry’s attention, Themba has already featured in Mixmag, DJ Magazine Ibiza, DJ UK, Ushuaia Magazine, Faze, Deep House Amsterdam and has presented a short documentary for Beatport called ‘Monitor Johannesburg’. His DJ mixes feature regularly on radio including Pete Tong’s radio show, Apple Music’s Beats 1 and Ibiza Sonica. In 2018 Themba was nominated in the ‘Best Newcomer DJ’ category and again this year is in the running for ‘Best Breakthrough DJ’ at the 2019 Ibiza DJ Awards.

Themba’s latest singles ‘The Wolf’ and ‘iLEMBE’ on Herd have caused a stir at all of his recent shows. Themba’s productions continue to break the mold and he has numerous fresh releases lined up for 2019. He is also becoming increasingly sought after as a remixer, adding his magic to Paxx (Tulum)’s ‘Djoloren’ on Stealth Records and the Deepshakerz single ‘Tell Me’ forthcoming on Saved Records.

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