PREMIERE: The Ghanaian DJ is known for blending techno and asafo music to create a style that is entirely his own.
No longer one of Ghana's best kept secrets, the world is about to learn of the singular musical stylings of DJ Katapila. The DJ and singer, born Ishmael Abbey, has developed a unique sound that got the attention of label Awesome Tapes from Africa manager Brian Shimkovitz and catapulted his career to international realms.
Now,with the help of DAT Films, he has a short documentary to tell the story of where he comes from and what kind of music he makes with the world. According to the filmmakers, "DJ Katapila's sound is an insane bass-heavy hybrid of traditional hiplife from Ghana's coast and Detroit techno. For the last 20 years, Katapila has been blasting his unique sounds all over Accra, from house parties to funerals, inspiring generations of Ghanaians to get up and dance like they were born to."
Named after the Caterpillar (or Cat) machines—the ubiquitous line of yellow construction vehicles at every building or demolition site—DJ Katapila is relentless in his work ethic and has various abilities to entertain. Coming from Jamestown, one of Accra's most notorious neighborhoods, DJ Katapila uses music to, in his words, educate people, and he does that through entertainment. Katapila blends a mix of techno beats with Ghana's coastal rhythms and melodies to create a sound that is lively, pulsing. He then chants, raps or sings in Twi, English and Ga to relay lessons he's learned on the streets and in his life. He's hoping that these messages, delivered in this fashion, can inspire change and action in a country that is developing quickly.
Watch our premiere of the film below to get a sense of Accra's techno scene, the intensity of DJ Katapila's music and to see the celebration unfold at a funeral in Gbawe while Katapila himself plays to honor the lost.