Before Malkop, we speak with Riku Latti

If you’re as excited about Malkop (2 – 3 December) as we are, then have we got something for you. To excite you further, we sent me into the heart of the SA music scene to have a chat with icon Riku Latti. Riku’s career spans years, various platforms and all round success and I was keen to find out why. We always appreciate when artists give as extensive answers to our questions as these…no matter how horrid the questions may be. We talk all things from language barriers, to IT to what he puts in his majestic hair!


Richard Chemaly (RC): A background in philosophy, a TV show, a cult paper (so cult we haven’t been able to find it online), a fine history of collaboration with the greatest of local artists, a serious following in Europe etc etc…seriously Riku, is daar niks wat u nie het nie?

Riku Latti (RL): Yes, it does look like I have followed many different callings, but in actual fact I took life one day at a time, started of studying law then upon realizing dealing with people’s problems all day wasn’t for me, turned to Philosophy.  Then realizing that there are not a lot of work opportunities for philosophers, I started working in IT, becoming a web developer.  Always being in love with creating and now having some skills, I built the Zimdollar online satire newspaper.  Now having earned some money, enough to buy my home studio, and also further realizing that with IT you basically spend most of your time fixing other people’s problems, I got out of IT.  But while I was doing all these things, there was one constant, namely music.  I was constantly writing and playing music, but as you know music doesn’t feed the family, so I never took it seriously as a career until much later, when some of the musical seeds I planted along the way took to life and naturally connecting to each other developing in to a lush musical forest.  Being constantly surrounded with music, you become better at it and great artists actually want to work with you, so it is a very fortunate position that you have to work hard at achieving, but if you love your work then, your work becomes your pleasure, and pleasure is… well, pleasurable, which makes me a hard working hedonist, I guess.

RC: As an Afrikaans artist, there are barriers for us soutjies discovering you. In fact, my first experience of you was your travelling Wasgoedlyn stage at Oppi this year (thanks for that by the way, it was awesome!). What do you make of the language barrier and how do you overcome it when appealing to your international fans?

RL: The language barrier is not so much a problem of language as is it a barrier of mindsets.  French rap transcends language; African music enjoys great European popularity as world music.  So even though the spoken language is not understood, the music is understood as “universal language”.  The South African society is largely still divided by all kinds of criteria.  Lately there has been a more conscious awakening towards accepting and celebrating differences together instead of each keeping to one’s own.  That is very much the philosophy of Die Wasgoedlyn.  We are a combination of very diverse musicians.  We want to go further and include more languages in our program (TV Program “Die Wasgoedlyn” currently on DSTV Channel 146), aiming for all South African and later other international languages.  So our argument is that language should not be seen as a barrier when it comes to music at all.  But all this being said, my alter ego, Victor Wolf, sings and creates music in English, some of those songs are also included in our Wasgoedlyn sets.

RC: You played Malkop last year. Did you learn anything from it that might change the way you approach this year’s performance or have you, in your 2 decades in the industry already determined your tequila limits?

RL: Last year’s Malkop’s experience made me realize all over again how much I loved the West Coast.  It is a very special place I always feel can deeply inspire great things in me.  One day when I need to write a novel or script or something of substance I would love to find my thoughts in the midst of sea mist and succulents.  As far as the Malkop festival and relationship with tequila, I think we are fine, we still love and respect each other, and you can go read many self help manuals. Those two are both essential ingredients for a healthy relationship.

RC: You’ve done a ton of collaboration in your active years. Ever been to a festival, had a couple of beers in the artist camp and planned to do an impromptu collaboration during your set the next day? What are the odds of that happening this year since you seem to enjoy collaboration a lot?

RL: The odds are very high, in fact, collaboration is so much part of what we do that it defines Die Wasgoedlyn.  But then the concept of a washing line is also, in turn, a representation or definition of collaboration.  It is a line that invites people of differing backgrounds to hang up a piece of their own.  So we are in fact also looking forward to Malkop to spot some old friends and some new musicians to work with.  That is why the concept will never grow old, because it is in a state of constant becoming.

RC: Finally, and probably most importantly, what do you use in your hair to keep it so amazingly full of body? I had my money on papaya extract and Brett is gambling on aloe. Either way, we’re both in the process of shaving our scalps just because we could never compete with you.

RL: [Laughs], my hair, oh my.  No papaya extract, no raw eggs, no beer (except when it is drunk).  I guess the trick is to forget about it and treat it like shit.  It is when you spend too much time grooming and treating it that you maybe ruin it.  Look at what plastic surgery does to so many once beautiful film stars.  Lately I must confess my wife keeps a constant supply of shampoo and conditioner in the shower.  But I also had a shaven head when I was in my 20s and I loved that too.  But my wife will divorce me if I try that shit again….

We also have tickets to give away to Malkop so tell us why it should be you and you might just get some