The Catch Up with Fatso 98

If you are an audience of the South African deep house music space, then you ought to have caught the growing wave of the sound of Fatso 98. In the past two years, Fatso has established himself firmly as bearer of DJ and producer extraordinaire caps. Be it with the mellow sounds of the SHO EP, tunes such as Intliziyo Yam that reached rare deep house mainstream levels or his now iconic remixes of his favourite songs across the board, Fatso has got you.

We last got in touch with Fatso just prior to his 2021 EP release, Black Boy Fly, under his alias, Mpyatona. We’ve now caught up with him to discuss his brand growth since we last spoke, his alias transition, social media navigation while also touching briefly on the music.

Read through our chat with Fatso 98, below…

Abuti, you wear earrings now? (laughs)

Ey man (laughs), they call DJs, “city boys”, so I have to look the part. I’m just kidding, I’m trying to find myself, my style and authenticity and this happened to be one of those.

Let’s talk about branding – what have you gotten to learn about self-branding lately and its importance, be it how you present yourself, how you dress, how you look, etc.?

There’s really some important stuff I’ve gotten to learn and it includes like I’ve just said, the impression you make when you walk into a room. You need to be able to stand out somehow, your aura has to speak, you need to be fresh. Branding goes from how you look, how you act, talk, and make people feel. If you stand out then your brand is guaranteed to be remembered.

Likewise, what have you learnt about artist management and the little things like having press kits, constantly updating and having pictures, artist logo, letter hands, etc.?

It’s really an important aspect of running a brand, the same way you need to show up looking dapper you also need to have an outstanding profile that’s easy to navigate whenever requested. For professional purposes you just have to treat your brand as a business, unfortunately as an independent artist it all comes from your pocket but it’s needed because at the end of the day when Coachella or Tomorrowland come, they won’t care if you’re indie or under a label. They expect the same standard of professionalism from everyone.

How have you been dealing with your growing audience more especially from a social media perspective? I mean, I for one am able to distinct between Fatso the person and Fatso 98 the artist on social media (For instance having the page and the personal account on Facebook).

Honestly having the two is quite tricky but doable, I get a chance to separate my personal life from my artistry. It is tricky because ultimately anything controversial you say has to be calculated despite which account was used because they all represent one person. My personal account grows linearly as it’s personal and allows me to interact with people on a personal level and my page has been growing gradually and it’s really just my escapade and a safe space for me to talk about my music and actually have people listen and be interested.

While on that, how special to you are your Facebook “cult” man? It blows my mind every single time how they’ve got your back.

(Laughs) Honestly you’re not the first one to ask me this and also call them that. They are very special to me, very special. Their love for me really stems from me being myself and respecting them back so it’s a mutual relationship and it always blows my mind every time I get to meet them in real life at shows that I have these people who genuinely like the craft like that.

As blend as it may sound, what do you credit your growing success to?

It really has to be God and myself first of all. The work I’ve put in since 9th Grade to varsity and having to fail a couple of modules because of this passion, dealing with the depression and brokenness it all comes with it and still choosing it at the end of the day. It has to be me, and of course my amazing family and friends.

We had spoken transition before, and the plan seemed to be phasing out Fatso 98 and pushing the Mpyatona brand, but that seems to have completely flipped?

There’s a quote i once heard on a Big Sean song that goes “God laughs at us when we make plans” and everyday I get to believe it more and more. The plans was to phase out Fatso 98 and leave Mpyatona but fast forward here we are and I can’t tell you how and why but we’re here. Fatso 98 is doing numbers and I’m happy because it’s initially the genre I’ve always stood for musically when I started this whole thing.

I’ll ask you a question similar to one I asked Mood Dusty, how are you able to cater for an audience that is as detailed and pays as much attention as the deep house audience does?

It’s all in the art, Wu Tang was Wu Tang because they made raps for ears that wanted raps and nothing else, no melody whatsoever. It comes with a lot of expectations but once you lay down the foundation of which style of House you’re about then it filters out the rest of the people who aren’t for it. I’ve never been to an Afro-House show not because I don’t respect the movement or subgenre but I know it’s not for me thus eliminating the pressure off the Afro-House artists during their performances.

To touch briefly on the music, which song of yours in recent times has surprised you in terms of the reaction it’s pulled and why?

I’d say between the remix UMngomezulu made for Intliziyo Yami and Keep On Moving. They are doing pretty good for songs I’ve never played at any of my gigs.

How’s the immediate future looking, what can we expect from your side?

I honestly can’t tell where we’re going but I know it’s a good place. I’m finally at the point I’m ready to collaborate more and explore more. This year alone I’ve worked on 2 songs with C-Blak, and a feature on Artwork Sounds’ album alongside Abidoza and looking forward to expanding this in ways no one has done before.

Lastly, what is success to you? What does it look like?

For me success is doing what you love and getting paid for it. Be it a 9-5 or the work that we do, just following the one thing you’re passionate about and making a living from it. That’s success, you’re successful.

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