A Quick Chat With This Week’s Top Pick for Woman Crush Everyday, DJ Sue
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 in-depth discussion with South African singer, songwriter, and deejay, Sue. In the interview, Sue covers a few questions about her music journey, being a female disc jockey in a male dominated industry, plus everything in between.
Tell us about your journey & how you began with radio.
Although I only started as a DJ at the age of 16 in 2003, when I played for free at Birthday celebrations and weddings in Soweto, I was initially introduced to house music and the DJ scene by my brother DJ QT, who used to work for SHEER Music.
SHEER used to release a lot of house artists, so I would go to his work space and collect the latest compilations and that’s how I fell in love with house music.
Is there an interesting story behind your name?
A little [lol]: my brother used to make fun of me a lot growing up. He was very protective of me, but I used to hate the pet names he used to give me.
He gave me the name ‘Sue’ because of some comedy show that used to air on SABC. He named me after a tall, dark skin model-like lady with an afro who used to follow this guy with a long coat and looked like he had a lot of money.
I was 13 at that time, light skinned and chubby – the opposite of the lady he named me after. I didn’t understand why he named me after her but I dreaded it in a funny way, but the name stuck and all my family members called me “Sue”.
What does music mean, to you?
House music means everything to me, it is the reason I decided to be a DJ. The industry has evolved and changed a lot, and I am now more open minded to other genres of music, but to be honest, house music is my first love.
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The soulfulness of house music moves every inch of me. In other words, house music speaks truth and that’s what I love about it, because I am a soulful songwriter, it is easier for me to write on a soulful house beat than any other music.
Did you have any bitter experiences with not being taken seriously, as a female working in the music & entertainment industry? kindly share.
Yes, for the longest time. It isn’t that I am not knocking on doors but that sometimes people don’t want to give you a chance. That being said, I have also realized that no one owes me anything. If one door shuts today, I can easily forget about it and knock onto the next one tomorrow.
Any thoughts on the current state of SA music in a digital age?
What I can say is that music has evolved, music has taken a different direction, and the entertainment industry has changed as well.
I definitely think that the music that people accept isn’t musical nor is it done to touch heart for a lifetime; it is music that is made to get people’s immediate reaction.
I don’t feel nor understand most of it, and sometimes I have to play it because that’s what people want, but to tell you the honest truth I think that’s where the digital age has lost its touch – there isn’t any soul in music anymore.
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The biggest challenge faced by women in the music & entertainment industry?
I can only speak for myself and a few of my female DJ friends. What I can confirm is that we share similar challenges. We find ourselves having to work twice as hard to get the same opportunities male DJ’s easily get – on top of that we have to put in the effort in looking the part.
I find that with male DJ’s, their talent speaks for them, with us it is the opposite. Female DJ’s run the risk of being harassed and are not safe when at events, and always have to make sure we are safe and be accompanied to assure safety.
The biggest reward?
The biggest reward can be that once people see that you aren’t just a pretty face but very talented as well, they give you the biggest respect. Respect as an entertainer is the most important thing.
Can you list the Top 4 social media do’s and dont’s for fellow professionals?
For me, I think one needs to treat their social media platforms as marketing tools: (1) Make sure you take your brand serious, post things that give people an idea of who you are and what you are about. (2) Be consistent and keep people wanting more of you and tweet and post about interesting things that you relate to.
(3) Do not fued or bash fellow DJ’s or anyone that’s in the entertainment industry to get media attention. (4) Do not over expose yourself, start talking or posting about every little personal detail about your life, even the bad.
What would you say makes your personal brand unique?
I think with me it’s the journey. I have been at this for a long time and I am independent. So, what my brand represents is growth, consistency and passion. I am an all-rounder, not only do I try to perfect my craft as a DJ, but my music as well as a songwriter and producer and also as a person who’s into fashion.
Can you pick 3 women that you admire in the industry? Why?
The female DJ industry is quite small, so I would like to mention two women I truly admire in music.
(1) Beyonce – because she is also an all-rounder: singer, song writer, boss lady and passionate about the industry. (2) Shekhina – because of her amazing voice, songwriting skill, and the heart to stay true to her herself and her sound in a world that that constantly wants you to adapt.
What can we expect from you in the near future?
You can expect a more open minded Sue when it comes to how I will position my brand. I want to grow as a brand and not just a musician.
Yes I want my music to speak to huge volumes of people, but we can’t ignore the fact that the entertainment industry is broader. Releasing music, collaborations with clothing brands just to name a few.
Do you have any advice for ladies looking to follow in your footsteps?
They need to be themselves and find a style of playing that defines them. They need to be strong and persistent but not give in to the pressures of the industry. They need to learn how to network, sometimes it isn’t about how good you are but who you know.
That being said, kindly checkout Deejaykul‘s Remix of Ultra Tone‘s ‘Stars (Everlasting Love)’ featuring Vaalsow and SUE below, and do let us know what you think about the discussion further down below: