There are very few DJs in South Africa who are as accomplished as Grimehouse. Starting as a hardstyle DJ back in the early 2000s, Keaton "Grimehouse" Carelse has become one of the most iconic DJs in the country. With his infectious energy and slamming beats, he has created a new beast named 'The Pit'. This spectacular lightshow takes Grimehouse' performances tot he next level and is a must see attraction on the clubbing calendar. Ahead of his latest installment, we chatted to the talented DJ and producer to find out more about this exciting show.
How are things coming along with The Pit?
We had to take the decor down because the lasers are so powerful, they just burn through the decor. If it stands still on a solid beam it can burn you, so we just keep it moving (laughs). My one friend lit a cigarette on it. When we were testing the lights, we just kept it on, and it worked! It's the most powerful lasers I could physically find.
It's so unorganised, like, I'm the most unorganised person in the world. We've got Scotty singing and the rappers and the live drummers coming on stage and it's 90% my own tracks. But I refuse to plan the set! So they don't know what going on. I haven't seen this whole crew over a year now, but they still coming to perform at the show. The last time, I didn't know how to cue them because I didn't know when I'm going to play the song. So we sent the drummer a missed call, to let him know when he must come on (laughs). This year, I want it to be as good and as stress-free as possible. It's so stressful when you're not planning it, and you're just winging it. So, I'm going to plan the first 30 minutes, to the T. I feel like a fraud, but it's better like this.
We also built a new DJ box out of trussing, so instead of a table or stands, we bought this weird curved mini trussing and built moving heads into it. It's cool! I hope it's lekker! It's stressful though, I take calmettes and sit in my car before the gig. The first two hours are the worst!
What did you want to accomplish with The Pit and what has the journey been like?
I wanted to change the game; I wanted to do something different, something that no one else has done before as a solo DJ act. I found the best lighting company and asked them "how can we change the fucking game?" The first one was proper crazy, technologically. We had an XBOX Kinect, which is basically an infrared sensor, and they macguyver'd it to a DMX midi map which turned my body into a midi signal. I had an LCD in the DJ box in front of me, and I could see my infrared trace on the screen. They then put these little blocks on the screen which worked as midi triggers so, if my image touched the block, it would trigger midi clips which would interact with the lights.
For instance, if I put my hand up, it would trigger the strobes, and all the other lights would go off. If I put my hands out beside me, all the lasers would come on. So, it was next level technological kak! It was crazy! But the setup was too hectic; we couldn't do it every time. It was like a months worth of work and months worth of planning. So we just downscaled it so we could do it twice a year. It was just something different; I wanted to do something cool for the people.
You've been the quite tight with the guys at Monster for a while, how did that come about?
Monster just inboxed me and said that I fit the brand and that they want to sponsor me. I'm the only artist in South Africa who's fully sponsored by Monster. (He says while sitting on his Monster mini-fridge). So they look after me when it comes to The Pit. They just bought a tour bus. Apparently, it used to be owned by The Rolling Stones. The thing is amazing! It can sleep six people; it has Playstations build into it, it has a kitchen, a Bathroom. You push this button, and this giant fucking TV comes out in the one bedroom. And they've said: "You can have the tour bus whenever you want."
So we're going to take The Pit on a full country-wide tour in February or March next year. We're going to every city: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, P.E, East London, Grahamstown, Stellies, Bloemfontein. Like everywhere. I'm bringing all the artists, all the lighting, everything. Everything can fit inside this fucking tour bus! The side of the bus also pulls out and turns into its own venue that holds about 150 people. So we're going to do a few pop-up events from the tour bus too. I don't really want to make money from this; I just want it to be a really fun tour.
It seems that you have done it all in South Africa at this point, are there any international tours on the cards?
I've had some options to go overseas, but I've got my day-to-day business (an IT company named Psy-Com) to run, and I'm a control freak when it comes to the business. I don't think my employees can handle me being away. I had an offer to tour America, but I just couldn't bring myself to go. So I don't know about touring overseas yet. I know I need to do it though, so I've told myself next time an offer comes I'm going to take it. For now, I just want to produce some more tracks and hope they do well overseas.
What were things like for you when you started as Psycho Keaton?
The one club didn't pay me for about eight years. They didn't pay anyone. One day I asked them to pay me, and they said no, so I told them I was going to play at other parties because other places wanted to book me. Their response was "okay, then we're going to have you killed!". They were proper dodgy motherfuckers. So I was like "okay cool, I'll stay then" (laughs).
I was young, so I didn't know what was going on at the time. I was punting hardstyle back then when everybody was still on hard-house. I threw my first jol at the club and burnt 100 CDs with "This is called hardstyle" written on them. We had way over 1000 people there, and I was like "yoh, I've coined it", but the club stole all my money before I had even paid anyone. I even flew guys down from Joburg for the party! That's when I decided to leave.
After that, I started doing parties for some Russian guys in the basement parking at their venue, and the threats started getting worse. So, I told the Russian guy that they were making it hard for me, and I don't know what they did, but he phoned me one morning at like 8 o'clock. I answered, and all I heard was "It is done." (laughs). A few hours later I got a call from my previous boss, and he apologised... They never fucked with me again.
What sparked the transition from Psycho Keaton to Grimehouse?
I went to Rubadub; it was the first time I ever heard dubstep. I never even knew dubstep existed until I went there! The sound design blew my mind. Dubstep had eluded me my entire life so all I heard was this "Transformers having sex" sound. And I was like shit! It blew my mind on a technical level; I was like "How is this made?" So I tried it, I just wanted to make it. It took a year of making it and didn't know what to do with it, so I started approaching people to release it, and it eventually got released overseas. The rest is history.
'Magnum Opus' has been very well received since it's release. How have things gone with the album?
I've got 150 copies left from the 1000 that I made, so I've sold about 750 of them. The hard-copies did way better than digital. So I'm giving the rest away at The Pit. I just want to break-even. If you do it for money, then you do it for the wrong reasons; you whore yourself out for gigs and make music that you don't want to be making. I'm proud of my own shit; it might not appeal to as many people, but it's at least my music. And the fact that it made number one on Beatport was the main goal especially since it came out the same week that Skrillex and Zomboy put out an EP; they were dominating that chart.
So I'm happy with it. A lot of it is not what you'd expect, a lot of it is just me playing the piano and nothing else. And talking about the world, I used voice clips and stuff. So, I got a lot of hate for the album from the die-hards. They were like "what kak is this?!" It's a hard copy bra if it goes missing you find it in five years it must still sound good, it must be musical. Like no one's going to give a fuck about Martin Garrix's 'Animals' in five years time. So, a lot of the music is orchestral and piano stuff, really cinematic shit; it's not really dance music, it's just music.
The Pit lands tonight at Mercury, tickets are R100 all night (Free Copy of Grimehouse' Album to the first 100 people!)