A Quick Chat With This Week’s Top Pick for WCW, DJ Chainz
12 Questions is a weekly interview series that celebrates Africa-based female professionals who work in the music, media and entertainment industry. The multi-layered presentation is intended to inspire a bright new generation of young ladies to carve their own paths and overcome common challenges while learning about a few personal experiences from some (notable) professionals in the creative industry.
This week, we had an awesome conversation with South African, Vaal-based Hip Hop DJ, and Event Promoter, Chainz to ask her a couple of questions about why she became a disc jockey, her ever-growing love for the music & entertainment industry, plus everything in between.
Tell us about your journey & how you began with radio.
Music has always been a huge part of my life growing up. My two older siblings influenced me a lot. They were both dancers – specifically Hip Hop dancers. So, from primary school I started to follow in their footsteps. That’s how my love for hip hop grew.
After high school, I got to hang out with a lot of DJ’s and music lovers in general. That is when I took the advantage to learn the fundamentals of (actually) deejaying. Lessons were given by my brother, Slow Malefane – the rest is history.
Is there an interesting story behind your name?
Hahaha – none what-so-ever. I get this question a whole lot. That being said, it all came from a friend of mine, Khosi Mpembe.
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We loved fashion, looking different, and we used to make accessories, specifically earrings, neck pieces, and accessorize shades. Not to mention, I also used to wear a lot of Chains. So then she one asked me why I don’t just go for the name ‘Chainz’, since well I love them so much. That is I got the name.
What does music mean, to you?
All I can say is: ’One thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain’.
Did you have any bitter experiences with not being taken seriously, as a female working in the music & entertainment industry? kindly share.
So far, I have had one, from a fellow female promoter. Reason being she felt I did not bring anything different to the table. We are all entitled to our own opinions. Then a year later she actually booked me.
Any thoughts on the current state of SA music in a digital age?
For many years, house music and kwaito music where the main genres that dominated the clubs and radio stations in South Africa. In the 2000’s, Hip Hop was recognized – especially commercially. Now Hip Hop has evolved immensely.
I literally heard a song by Rouge, and I was convinced that it’s Missy Elliot. That’s how great South African Hip Hop is sounding. Amazing!
The biggest challenge faced by women in the music & entertainment industry?
We are so underrated it hurts, because we have talented sisters in the industry. I just hope that they never lose hope and just keep on keeping on.
We just need to connect ourselves with the right people who see value in our craft, although it’s not easy. It is even worse when your type of music doesn’t have a market, like it is for some of us in the Vaal Region.
The biggest reward?
The biggest reward is actually travelling out of Vaal, because the experience is always so different: from hospitality to payments, and sharing the stage with the biggest artist.
This has opened so many doors for me and the growth as well. Plus, learning about the business side of it all is mind blowing.
Can you list the Top 4 social media do’s and dont’s for fellow professionals?
(1) Don’t settle for less, especially if you have made a name for yourself – side note: Drinks won’t pay the bills. (2) Don’t let the likes fool you. Not everyone will ‘LIKE’ your work, even outside the media.
(3) Do stay HUMBLE. That big head will just bring you more haters and no one will want to work with you. (4) Do make sure you make a noise. Trust me when I say: they are watching. They see you.
What would you say makes your personal brand unique?
Firstly, ‘fitting in’ has never been my worry. I found a loop hole right in the middle of underground and commercial. I truly believe that we as deejays need to educate the people with our sound.
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As much as Deep House deejays are able to drop anything that they feel deserves to be heard, so can we also just flourish with Hip Hop. Edutainment one way!
Can you pick 3 women that you admire in the industry? Why?
(1) Thandiswa Mazwai: King Tha changed the game. She literally stayed true herself and her beliefs. Whether it is her sound, her fashion, she made it a point that she set her own standards. Emerald Resort and Casino brought her on the 8th of August 2017 with Kelly Khumalo, and I was so honoured to have shared the stage with them as their supporting act.
(2) Clique Concept: the ladies always try to empower women that are still ‘on the come up’. They also have ‘Black Girls Rising’ events in Sharpeville every women’s month for our sisters. The fact that they believe there’s talent in the VAAL especially with ART.
(3) All of my fellow female DJ’s in the Vaal Region: they are literally changing the game.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
Fashion, music, music and more music and fashion. I’m also trying to get more female hip hop deejays.
Do you have any advice for ladies looking to follow in your footsteps?
First of all, take yourself and your craft serious, so that the masses can also take you serious. It really isn’t easy. Stay connected. Make friends in the industry, they will help you. We need more female deejays anyway.