BYP Interviews DJ Kopeman
The Sun is shining, and outside is reminding us we have a lot to live for. The pandemic has seen a lot of us cooped up inside, our creative ambitions momentarily retired, and an unknown space cast on the things we would usually do with this season.
From Café’s to pubs, workspaces to gyms, galleries and museums to theatres, everything was put on pause. We could no longer commune, and a lot of jobs and fields were at risk of a long haul to getting back to their desired reality. One such profession was DJing and the club scene, an ever-present marker of Black community where we celebrate our music and the beauty of our cultures.
Now we are somewhat back to normal business, we had an opportunity to speak to DJ Kopeman of the So Contagious collective, a famed and veteran DJ with over a decade of experience behind the decks. We asked him about DJing, how he sees the evolving DJ & club scene, as well as his perspective on the importance of the culture.
When did you first start to DJ and what captivated you about music?
I started DJing in 2009. Growing up, I had been around music so much. Listening to my Dad playing his records and cassettes. I was so fascinated by his collection of music. He had a lot of vinyl and used to go through them once in a while and talk about the first time he heard the songs: where he bought them from, the time the artists came to Ghana.
Everything was just interesting. I believe this is how I started my own collection of CDs. At one point I was downloading and burning CDs every day and playing them in my room. Just growing my collection. During university, I was partying a lot and heard DJs play. I was impressed by how they mixed, their selections, and the excitement they brought to the partygoers. Encouraged by friends, I began to put my music collection to use and learned how to DJ knowing I had a deep catalogue of music.
I loved old school R&B so much and going to parties I heard a lot of the DJs playing the same songs on rotation. I made it my aim to play songs in the clubs that would surprise the ravers and make them reminisce by hearing songs they hadn’t heard for a while.
What inspired the beginnings of So Contagious as a collective?
The collective is really a group of friends who have come together to make this work and spread our love for R&B to a wider audience. Me and friends from secondary school D.Man and Shades, alongside a friend I met at Uni, Eddman and Diego Danso. They encouraged me to take up DJing as they always heard me playing music and saw my collection was huge. We began to work together and made the team So Contagious ENT and the brand Contagious Classics.
How has the evolving DJ & Club scene changed throughout your time as a DJ?
When I started, there were so many clubs and bars that promoters could hire out for events. Bit by bit the venues become unavailable to us. It is always a struggle to find venues to host our events. Club nights used to go on until 4 in the morning but now close at 3am or earlier. Growing older with our fanbase, the popular event is now the day party which will finish at 12am latest.
The struggle for venues did make a lot of promoters give up on the events and the growing use of social media also played a part. Partying from 2009, you would come out of a club and there would be a line of 10+ promoters handing you flyers to their events and DJs handing you mixtapes. This has been one of the major changes in the scene. Nowadays you won’t have any promoters outside the venues at all as everything is done online.
As DJs we have to keep up with what the audience wants and needs, and the latest trends but there will always be a core fanbase who want to hear a certain type of music and there are specialist genre events for those. One example is the Amapiano genre which has birthed a wave of events in London only for that genre.
How important are events and spaces celebrating our Black community and culture?
We need places in which we can gather, enjoy and be free from the mainstream stereotypes and marginalization that permeate every other societal space we occupy. It’s a beautiful thing and a different feeling we get from being in our spaces where we can support and embrace who we are. We must celebrate our cultures and make future generations proud to be who they are. Growing up it was hard to see enough representation of the black community in the UK and we were always looking to the USA for role models. As I grew older, we started seeing more representation of black role models in the UK, and today we can see it more than ever.
Our Future Creative Summit is an opportunity to celebrate Creatives like DJ Kopeman. It is also a space to address and provide solutions for Black creatives and professionals who historically experience a lack of recognition for their work. We encourage you to join in on the conversation by becoming a member of our community as we shift the paradigm to reflect a workplace and society that is inclusive and truly honours the Black community.
You can find DJ Kopeman on Twitter https://twitter.com/DJKopemanUK - and So Contagious Ent on Mixcloud https://www.mixcloud.com/socontagiousent/ as well as their day party event Groove Theory https://twitter.com/GrooveTheoryDP