South African music maker, DJ Fortee is fast making a name for himself and he hopes his latest single with Nigerian hit maker Niniola will fast-track his moves. The duo recently released the single Monini, a South African house song with a uniquely West African spin, thanks to Niniola’s vocals
Fortee never planned on pursuing music but with a supportive family and a talent that came naturally, it was the only road he could take.
Born in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, his family moved to the Pretoria CBD before settling in Shoshanguve. “I grew up in a very loving household, even with the moving around, I was always happy and I think that’s because I had such a strong support system,” he said.
It was not until his family moved to Shoshanguve that Fortee, whose real name is Katlego Tigele, discovered his love for music. “I was always surrounded by music, my uncles would always listen to music and I would enjoy it but not to a point where I was interested in it.
That was until I became friends with a DJ. We collected music together and became best friends. I started off with playing at school and whenever we took trips in any car I would be in charge of the music we listened to and I just started teaching myself,” he said.
Fortee started on his friend’s computer, which he said was easy to do. “It came very easily to me, I did not struggle at all; my friends were very surprised by my abilities and my aunt told my mother that she needed to get me my own equipment because I have a gift,” he said.
Although his mother initially felt he should focus on other things in life, she supported his new passion.
He continued to teach himself and played at local parties and functions until he started playing professionally in 2006. “I continued to meet other DJs and always made sure I learnt something from them, no matter who they were. In 2012 I then met a DJ and I sent him a song that I had produced and he liked it and then we started working together,” he said.
Fast forward to 2018 and Fortee has released a number of hit singles and albums, carving his name in the industry. The musician released The Grove in 2016 and believes Naughty Dance, a song off the album is what opened doors for him.
“I had music that was popular before the release of that album and song but that song really opened a lot of doors and a new fan base for me,” he said.
Fortee featured vocalist Dindy, and commenting on how he decides on who to collaborate with, he said, “When I am producing a song, I do so with a certain vocalist in mind, and this might sound weird, but then I take my chances and approach the vocalist. I send them the song and hope they like it.”
And that’s exactly what happened with Niniola. “I sent her a private message on Instagram which included the song. She responded within a week and said she liked the song and gave me her manager’s number. I didn’t expect her to respond but I think it was my approach that made her respond. She recorded her part in Nigeria and when it was sent back to me I approved it immediately,” he said.
He describes the single as a fusion of South African and Nigerian grooves. “It’s a DJ Fortee song in terms of the sounds, its Afropop house and with Niniola’s vocals it’s got a West African edge which is amazing. It’s a great song to dance to,” he said.
He is working on his next album and hopes to release it later this year. “There are 12 songs and 10 of those are house songs, but I am trying something different with two songs, so I am excited about that.”