Who is DJ Katapila?

Who is DJ Katapila?

We hung out with DJ Katapila last time we were in Accra, and boy is he a hoot! Alongside some documentary film makers (Tommy Thoms and Dara Gill), we followed him around for the better part of a week, capturing what it’s like for a DJ in Ghana’s capital, hustling to make a living, whilst slowly building a name for himself internationally through his ties to ATFA.We haven’t got the docs piece ready to show you yet, but while we were at it, we thought we’d shoot a little video clip for the man who never rests. 


DJ Katapila is a well known veteran within the electronic music scene in Ghana. His marathon DJ sets have earned him the nickname of ‘Katapila’ after Caterpillar construction equipment for his seemingly endless stalls of energy and endurance whilst playing (hence the backdrop of Caterpillar trucks in this clip).




Katapila and the dancers are rocking YEVU from head to toe for this film clip while they groove to Katapila’s signature sound of “Francophone rhythms plus techno”, which he explains, “equals so hot and danceable.”  The background concept to the tune is (apparently) centred around eating monkeys.

"Francophone rhythms plus techno equals so hot and danceable."

Katapila, a.k.a Ishmael Abbey grew up during the 70s in Jamestown, Accra, traditionally a Ga area. He began playing in Accra, rapping over the top of the instrumental breaks of his records in Twi and Ga. This led to him adding live drum beats with a Yamaha DD-11 drum pad as he went which would be incorporated into his own production techniques later in life.

With a great love for Chicago house and Detroit techno (contrasted with his love for Milly Vanilly as his fave band from that era), but also being strongly influenced by neo-contemporary styles of music from the region of Ga, Katapila began producing his own music. Although only having started several years ago, he has landed a place for himself on the acclaimed ‘Awesome Tapes from Africa’ label for his raw and unique sound that reflects Accra.

DJ Kat’s tunes illicit a sense of humour with references to Ghanaian daily life in vocal-samples. The tracks featuring cartoon voice-over samples yelling out random references like “Accra kenkey is delicious! We’re eating it!” or “Makola, UTC, Kaneshie” - a direct imitation of the drivers assistants of the Tro-tros of Accra, who yell out their destinations as they go. Most of these voices are those of his daughter who is also an aspiring DJ!

You may also know Ata Kak, who is good mates with DJ Kat, also on ATFA and can be recognised as a heavy influence on Kat's projects. 



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