A promising rugby player while at the University of Johannesburg, Kasirivu broke his neck when a scrum collapsed during a Koshuis game on 28 July 2008, leaving the hooker and second-year marketing student paralysed at the age of 21. “I was clear on it happening but focused on the fact that I was still alive,” Kasirivu recalls.
Two tumultuous years of recovering in hospital and rehabilitation followed before Kasirivu could ultimately return to his family home in Mafikeng. There, a new, uncertain life awaited. Those days were dark, Kasirivu remembers, but he found light in those closest to him and additional inspiration and strength from above.
“In hindsight, my focus was on healing. It’s the anxiety of having to engage with society again that was the most challenging,” he says. “Seeing how my family came together so powerfully and stood by me was the initial shift. Later, my spiritual journey shifted me into being more energetically conscious of my reality.”
The catastrophic injury had robbed him of so much, but rugby’s loss turned into the South African music industry’s gain. Music had always been a passion of his and he took the next crucial step that would eventually lead him to his high standing in the industry today.
“My initial desire to make music came in high school where I first learnt to DJ. It was great to play other people’s music but I always wondered what it would be like to actually make a song myself. I started officially playing music at gigs in Johannesburg while at Varsity, and I took production on after my injury.
“I started self-teaching myself to produce and compose while I was finishing off my degree at Unibo.
"Working in an office wasn't appealing to me, so I studied my degree in marketing my music and understanding business-building concepts I could apply to my own company.”
That venture is Kasirivu Productions, a publishing company that incorporates two digital house record labels in We Go Deep and The Bliss Beyond, which he started in 2012 and 2020 respectively. Better known as Luka, his productions are a fusion of lounge, jazz, soulful hip hop, deep dub and techno.
“Music is a great way for me to express myself and serves as an emotional outlet for those listening,” he says, adding, “I’d describe my music as music you can just sit and listen to, or swing your shirt around on top of a table dancing to.”
His top-class compositions have featured on several compilations and his projects have landed with record labels like Fomp, Dark Energy, Shine Records, Stilnovo, Fused Records, Jus Vibe and Faint Frequency while he’s worked with artists such as Sio, The Rurals, Andy Compton, Joseph Hines, Shur-i-Kan, Steve Paradise and DJ Ankletap.
An extremely hard worker and the total package, he’s a composer of commercial and library music, sound designer, mixer, remixer and does mastering on top of being the highly successful house music producer that he is. “I’ve done well over 50 different music projects. My most recent one is a joint album called Beyond Heaven & Earth.” His music also features on several library albums with different publishers and on popular shows such as Being Bonang and Skeem Saam.
Highly regarded by music lovers and his peers, he’s received high praise but remains humble and appreciative of his place in the industry. “Being regarded highly is great but not my goal. Being able to make a living doing what I love is what I requested to the Almighty and it is happening.”
His incredible work ethic, he says, is from the example his parents set, and he puts his success down to “Absolute faith in my oneness with the Almighty.” As for what he’s currently working on, he said, “Focusing on my journey of healing, breaking generational curses, growing in my oneness with the Almighty and making music when clients require it.”
Aside from his family and faith, a pivotal pillar of support for him since that life-changing day 15 years ago has been the Chris Burger Players’ Fund, who has assisted over 500 players who sustained catastrophic head, neck and spinal injuries since its inception in 1980. “I’m extremely grateful to the Fund. They assisted us with what to expect after an injury like mine and helped me with essential equipment. They also help with medical supplies, which are costly.”
With all the success he’s had, his greatest remix is the remarkable way in which he’s pivoted from heartbreak to forging a bright future for himself not only in the music injury but life in general. In terms of what he hopes others take out of his story, Kasirivu says, “Do the best you can with what you have, knowing your faith opens the way for the impossible to become possible.”
Click here for information on how to donate of get involved with the Fund: https://playersfund.org.za/get-involved/
By Quintin van Jaarsveld