Katapila, a Ghanaian DJ and Awesome Tapes From Africa alum, has died.
The DJ and producer, real name Ishmael Abbey, death was confirmed on January 25 via an Instagram post shared by Awesome Tapes From Africa (ATFA). They revealed that Abbey had passed after battling a brief illness on Sunday, January 21.
“I am shocked and heartbroken to be announcing the sudden death of our friend and collaborator Ishmael Abbey, better known worldwide as DJ Katapila. The inimitable producer, disc jockey and mobile party-starter passed away Sunday morning at home from a brief illness. He leaves behind a loving family including his young daughter and son and his 92-year-old mother,” began the Instagram post.
“DJ Katapila launched into my consciousness on a trip to Ghana in 2015, after finding one of his tapes,” it continued. “We ended up releasing three albums together and he traveled to Europe for touring at least four times. Many of those shows we played together so I have vivid memories of our travels together and all the capers that entailed. Ishmael’s friendly and calm nature touched countless people along the way. It wasn’t always easy or stress-free working with him but I greatly value what I learned from him.
“We soldiered together with the incredible help of @qujunktions staff to navigate the horrible visa process African artists endure. Ishmael was subjected to numerous indignities and costly bad luck situations along the way but he always held his head high and kept positive and persisted His drive to make a life out of music was as relentless as the music he produced over the years. As a late bloomer in the world of music creation—he started working with Fruity Loops after about 20 years of DJing nonstop—he made up for the simplicity of his studio with the liveliness of his productions.”
At just 15-years-old, Abbey began his DJ career by standing on crates in order to reach the decks. His influenced included late-1980s house to Detroit techno and traditional Ga music from his home of Accra.
His signature style saw him speak in Twi and Ga during the breaks of tracks and included the use of an electronic drum pad to tap along to mixes. Speaking about his DJ name in an interview with The New York Times, Abbey said: “They call me Katapila because I can stand on my feet for three days nonstop”.
Per The New York Times, Katapila’s work was discovered by Brian Shimkovitz – the boss of Awesome Tapes From Africa – the label which would go on to reissue Abbey’s music in 2016 and 2018. DJ Katapila’s final release was his 2022 EP ‘Techno Africa’ via Tash LC’s Club Yeke.