By Byaruhanga Felix (@TheNinjaFelix)
You might know him from Radio City, Iguana,Sky Lounge or may be from your timeline you’ve seen mention “DJ Ciza”. If not, don’t worry I got you covered. DJ Ciza is a resident deejay at Radio City FM among other things but ahead of his #CizaBBQHouseParty at Terracota, I had a chat with him about deejaying in a music market like Uganda’s, one calling himself a hip-hop deejay and he also shared his thoughts on whether UG corporate companies are willing to spend “bullions” of shillings on Ugandan deejays like the way we’ve seen Ciroc do in South Africa among other things.
QN: Who is DJ Ciza away from the decks & at what point did you decide to take on deejaying professionally?
Unfortunately I wouldn’t find the fewest words to sum it up, but am hoping the reader has a description for me after this interview! Let me try J
Dj Ciza (Born Mwalye Seth) will still wake up to cue a couple of tracks before the day starts, still love me my music (of course,) I love me good Tech, shows and business in many forms – call it making money. I wouldn’t say I initially took deejaying serious up until it had the full liberty (when I joined University) to pursue it with the promise to my folks that I’d finish my degree. Haha! Five pro years down the road, it’s been lots of good times!
QN: What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
What makes you decide to play a particular song during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
Starting out a set, I gotta make sure that first song gets your attention, could be a highly relatable classic, a vocal intro or hell that official Dj Ciza intro. There onwards depending on what set of the night am playing (starter, a hip set or an outro set) every song in there will be there for a reason. I will have listened (I sing along to, at the least 8 bars of every track that makes it to my set, its a lot I know), cued up and track-labeled that JAM. This also varies between a radio gig, bar or concert performance.
QN: Thanks to developments in the software world, DJing has moved closer together than ever before, allowing DJs to change a track easily. How do you make use of these possibilities in your sets and is there a benefit?
The biggest tech benefit for me is how long it takes to prepare a set, besides hitting you from any angle! The older Djs had to carry actual vinyl crates, remember CD bags? All this has been eased up into one digital library, easily accessible by far – more so, what excuse would one have for not prepping?
QN: The relationship with the audience is crucial for a DJ, and yet it seems to be a fragile one. How do you see the balance between giving the crowd what they want and treating them to something new?
I for one envision my every set in its entirety as a package or a story before I deliver; it wouldn’t be wise to dumps lots of fresh beats in one go. It wouldn’t be wise either to keep a static set. I look for new music to lace my sets with every 3 nights a week. My goal is to make sure you here something new within that three hours set every week, a 20 minutes radio set begs to differ though – In Ciza’s world, 20 minutes can all be fresh and lit!
QN: We’ve seen DJs that just press play on their laptop and in the process they have given technology a bad name. What’s your perspective on the relationship and the balance between technological advances, music and the art of DJing? How have particular technologies changed your style of DJing?
Lets take an example; two gardeners go to the garden to work. One shows with just her hoe. The other shows with a hoe, a rake and probably a spade. The hoe is a necessity – the laptop, the rake and spade are extra tools – a mixer and a pair of decks, turntables or a proper sized controller (my colleague Aludah still calls them toys) Who’s performance would you look forward to? Start off with a laptop (I Did) because well, this Uganda of ours but let’s see progress to that first mixer, controller or just that one deck because the gardener whose style stands out is the one with a rake and a spade. Hardware has a huge role to play in what kind of DJ one is.
QN: Coming up as a DJ in this industry, one of the most difficult things is being relevant and getting people to vibe to your mixes, because anyone can make a mix & upload on sound cloud. How have you managed to get people’s attention & remained relevant from the moment you started until today?
Consistency is key, two aspects not left out – The Library (Collection) and Skills (Scratching, Juggling or Drops) among others. Am blessed to host 2 weekly shows on Radiocity 97FM (Where The Fun Is), am also on rotation with a fresh package every other week at Iguana & Sky Lounge (both in Kisementi) as well as Legends Kampala. Now, I believe an actual DJ’s work isn’t on the nights he plays, it’s the other days he’s off the decks listening, prepping, cueing, sorting and forth.
DJ Mixes are extremely helpful as the entire world can find your collection at one point – the mix has got to be good to sell/market itself, like a record – that said, check out my mixes at www.soundcloud.com/thedjciza. I live to Deejay another day.
QN: As a Deejay who is in the industry do you think one labeling him/herself labeling themselves as a “Hip-Hop DJ” would limit their reach especially in a music market like Uganda’s?!
I believe it would but I also believe the potential for growth is extreme for example we have the biggest number of 15 Year olds in the world, that’s quite a market! On the other hand, if one brands them a Hip-Hop Dj, then they execute to their best, perfect example is SNMS’s Mister Deejay – Stand Out At It. You’ll also possibly find music from every imaginable genre in my database, am of the view its advantageous to cover a good demographic well.
QN: We’ve seen Deejays develop their brands, headline events like yours that’s happening on 21.Nov, do you think the Ugandan corporates/companies will crossover & use their brands for example in S.A where DJ Dimplez is a Ciroc ambassador, do you see such endorsements for DJs in UG anytime soon?
With corporate cross overs, there’s evidence this has started happening, look DJ headlined events at the beach every weekend, the just concluded Kings Of Turntables, The Mixtape Party and Radiocity’s powered upcoming #CizaBBQHouseParty, the 21st. Nov at Terracotta. Trust me, the fraternity of UG DJs is also putting in work to make sure Ambassador Endorsements follow through.
QN: As Deejay means you get to work/interact with different artists & as we know sometimes it can be hard due to their big egos. How do you deal with such & any other challenges in the industry?
Yes, we do! The Djs work is to find the good music and give it to the people, as an artist, make good music and we will find that single. They, whoever need to build email databases, avoid handing us flash drives while we are on set, label their tracks – at least artist & title fields plus finally:
Dear Artists: Whatsapp compromises audio quality and Dj Ciza will not move unlabeled track “WA0000201514320” into his library, thank you.
QN: Please recommend two DJs to our readers, whom you feel deserve their attention.
Two lads: ThaDropOut & Dj SlaughterElly
Connect with DJ Ciza
Facebook: DJ Ciza
Facebook: Byaruhanga Felix FeliFed