Thursday, August 6, 2020
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Ryniel Muthusami

Confessions of a DJ

I love music, always have and I’ve been into various different genre’s of music, except rock – I just don’t get it but that’s besides the point. I also once upon a time loved to party, most of all to dance to some good music. I remember going to events, bars and clubs to go and see various DJs playing guys who in the industry were taking it to the next level! I’ll never forget being underage in a popular night club just because I wanted to see the scratch master of the time, DJ Reddy D, go hard on some vinyl! I remember standing there in absolute awe as he DJed, scratching on two vinyl decks using his fingers, arms, elbows and even his tongue! I was hooked! From then on my obsession with becoming a DJ was born and the thirst was real!

It’s crazy how the DJ industry has grown. Previously DJs always took the backseat to a live performance because no one really believed that DJ’s were actually “performers” or that it was even a real thing. Nowadays there are whole shows and events that center around DJs, like Ultra Music Festival and Tomorrowland. I think it’s amazing to see this transformation mostly because in the music industry chain the DJ’s are really the ones who sell the music to people.

As a DJ I really just wanted to share some thoughts on DJ etiquette and dos and don’ts I’ve picked up from when I DJ. (Caution: some of the following points may seem mean.)

1) Lets not talk Life

I’m a friendly guy and I love people, so naturally people like to talk to me but when I’m DJing please don’t talk to me. I mean I’ll say “hi” or “whats up” but for those 20 mins or so I’m actually performing to people. Imagine someone having a full on conversation to Justin Bieber while he was trying to sing “Sorry”. Side note – I really want to apologize to you if you’re reading this and have done this to me or any other DJ – Don’t take it personally – we were kind of busy doing our thing!

2) You can’t sit with us

The second most common thing people love ask is ”can I watch you” or “can I sit here and watch” usually I’m so engrossed in what I’m doing I just nod. Later on I have this uneasy feeling as the crowed behind me becomes as big as the one in front of me. Sometimes it feels like people are literally peering over my shoulder, truth is I get really nervous and start making mistakes. Now I get you want to learn how it works but it’s really intimidating so please let me get on with it. #igotthis, so linger don’t stay please.

3) Can you please play…..

If I had a dollar for every time I heard this I would be a billionaire.  I get it, everybody has their favorite song, their “jam” but there are a lot of people and if I just played everybody favorite song then that doesn’t make me a DJ that makes me a Jukebox.  I’m there to play you your jam like you’ve never heard it before, like the radio but 1000 times better. It’s my job to give you something you’ve never heard on the radio or seen on TV and make you so happy and excited that you get up and start dancing!

So I’ve developed a new rule – and it’s pretty mean! Usually a DJ has spend countless number of hours learning to mix music and preparing a set or genre of music that will suit the crowed or environment they are in. This is based on audience profiling, so before we get there we as DJ’s research the demographics, interests, style of music, beats per minute and the rest, to influence what to play at what time.  So my new rule is this: Pay to Play. If you really want your favorite song – Pay! I’ll play it right after this next song.

All of this sounds really harsh and some of you may be thinking “wow! he is such a drama queen” But all of this really makes me giggle because this happens so often and I love hearing other DJs tell tales of that night when this guy or this girl did that… It kind of makes it fun. So if you’re reading this please take note of above!

The thing I’ve learnt from all of this is simple. My gift is not my own. It’s God’s. It’s about other people, it’s about their God experience and it’s not about me. I say this because a lot of my DJing happens in church.  God gave me this gift as a vessel for people to encounter who He is so it really isn’t about me.

Sketchy or not?

I love my hometown, Durban in South Africa.  I was born and raised there. It’s an interesting city for two reasons; One – because of the massive mixture of culture and landscape. And two – because of the extreme levels of creativity that heralds from this city, oh and also the city has a massive love for cars – most modifying them but also another love.

I’ve always loved music. I think from a young age I’ve always listened to a wide variety of music from 80s, RnB, Pop, Soul, Dance, House… the list goes on.  It’s funny because even though this city loves cars what resulted from that was the music, because people loved either modifying their cars to go really fast or to make the sound systems loud enough to make you have tinnitus. All my life I had lived in this city and I missed it… The real love it had was a love for music.

Naturally, my love for music combined with my love for technology, and I always had this desire to become a DJ! I remember finding my dad’s old record player from his hi-fi system and trying to “scratch” on a record – breaking the needle and not knowing how to fix it! I remember finding this mini 4 channel mixer that I tried to hook up to CD player and DVD players just to try to mix something.

I’ve been really proud of my city lately with tonnes extremely talented artists and produces rising to the occasion! One such who I was extremely proud of was Yuvir Pillay also know by his stage name “Sketchy Bongo”.  A DJ by trade, he started applying himself to production and came up with a few hits.  His style and sound was so fresh and new, he had some great guys alongside him. They all comprised to form “the wolf pack”;  Sketchy Bongo, Aewon Wolf, Deemo, Kyle deutsch and Shekhinah.

Sketchy burst into the scene really quickly dropping hit after hit in the space of a year.  He has also collaborated with the biggest names in the South African music industry and just this year opened for Justin Bieber’s ‘Purpose’ world Tour.  Also this year Sketchy was signed to Ultra Music and he dropped an album titled ‘Unmasked’ (Sketchy Bongo would often perform with a balaclava or beanie with eye holes cut in it)

Here’s where it got sketchy for Sketchy. David Scott from the South African band The Kiffness pointed out something astonishing. A Sketchy Bongo produced track that was not just sampled but a basic copy of a sample pack demo that a company creates to entice users to purchase their sample packs that consist of thousands of different sounds – not beats (take note here because this is important). What makes it worse was that he “produced” this track for another local band and sold it to them for a lot of money.

Here’s the track:

Here’s the sample track:

What’s worse is that this isn’t the end. There are at least two other tracks that are not just samples but blatant copies of songs taken and looped. In some cases, he didn’t change a thing!

As a DJ and music lover this turn of events disappoints me.  I’m of the opinion that it’s okay to sample.  Sampling has been around for ages, it’s a great way to honor the past and creatives who have gone before, while refreshing it with the new, but there’s a line and that’s called stealing. Don’t get me wrong artists and producers do this all the time but I’ve never seen it to this extent.

I loved Sketchy’s music, what he was doing and was in awe of how fast he was doing it! But it made me think again about the ‘fast life’. It’s never just or true it will always catch up to you.

I think about the many other people living out there, maybe even reading this blog that are so focused on the fast life. So focused on making money that they lose sight of what they got into it for – the music, the love, the life.

Don’t live sketchy, live free! You can find out more by clicking the link below.

Dream Bigger!

I remember buying a notebook for a friend a while back. It was a simple thin-lined notebook and the cover read “Dream Big”. It didn’t mean much to me other than just being a pretty gold font on a colourful cover.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives, on the hustle and bustle that we forget to spend a little time dreaming – not dreaming about material things but truly spending time dreaming about our future. The thing is, it’s not enough to just dream – you have to dream bigger!

How do you dream big?

It’s sounds crazy but the answer is simple! Think up the most impossible thing that you could ever do and have desired to do and give it to God. Why you ask? Simple. Dreams are linked to desire. If your intentions are pure and your heart in the right place a dream is just a plan in action for God, especially because he knows the desires of our hearts.

Recently someone said I make them want to dream bigger and I couldn’t understand why they would say that because to me dreaming big is normal!  To me it’s easy to dream because I know that all things are possible with God and that nothing is impossible if you have faith! I believe my true calling and purpose on this earth is to help people realise their gold, tell their stories and to dream that little bit bigger! I will do all I can to encourage others and spur them on to dream a bigger dream!

I’ve begun to believe that our generation has been struggling to dream bigger. They have struggled to understand that fame or money isn’t the real dream, happiness is!

My question is to you – what are you going to dream bigger about?

It’s not fair!

I’m an only child, so I’m fairly spoilt (okay, no, I’m very spoilt!)

To make up for the absence of a brother or sister, my parents always gave me what I wanted. Most of the time I didn’t work for anything; I never really earned what I got… but I still got it. It’s not like my parents were extremely well-off, but they were focused on giving me the best. I would be flat-out lying if I said I had never thrown a tantrum for not getting what I wanted. I would get extremely angry at my parents, sometimes even reaching the “I’m-not-eating-the-food” stage. Yup, not great, I know…

This weekend my social media feed was, ahem… abuzz (a grand total of two people commented) when I posted an extremely vague Facebook status titled “It is not fair!”

Let me explain: God had spoken to me about a relationship situation and said “no”. To top things off, He relayed the same message to the other person. We were not to pursue the relationship, even though I wanted to.

A little background: I like helping other people connect the dots of their life stories in an effort to set them on a path to happiness and fulfillment. It’s what I like to do, and I feel I’m good at it. So, when this relationship situation happened, I started feeling like I was always helping others – but that the happiness they felt was apparently not for me. In short, I was angry at God – it felt like he had let me down!

Throwing my toys out the cot, I retaliated with a tantrum: “It’s not fair!”

You see, we’re sometimes tempted to look at our relationship with God simply in terms of what we can get from Him. It’s all about how He can make me happy. Me, me, me! There’s a simple problem here: I’m too used to getting what I want.

But that’s not really what a relationship with God is like. Often, God says “no” – not because He’s spiteful, but because He loves us and wants to protect us from situations that aren’t right for us. Often, we’re so caught up in what we want from God, that we miss His purpose or guidance in a specific situation. Making that shift from a selfish, self-serving attitude to a selfless, self-emptying love for God is part of the journey every single one of us has to undertake if we are to really live for Him.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t say that I’m not still a little disappointed. As I’m writing this, I’m still trying to process things. But I can tell you that He is working on my heart and teaching me that a relationship with Him is not all about what I want.

I don’t know what your “It’s-not-fair” moment is going to be. But I’m pretty sure you’re going to have one at some point. And when that happens, I want you to remember that a relationship with God is not simply about what you get out of the deal. Sometimes, God’s purposes are beyond our understanding. And when that happens, you’re going to need to be big enough to not throw a tantrum, and trust Him to direct your steps in His divine wisdom.

Counter Culture at Hillsong Powerhouse Summerfest

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Last Friday we attended Hillsong Church’s young adults event called Summerfest! This was the second edition of the event held at the Hillcrest Quarry in Durbanville in Cape Town, South Africa.

We attended the event because we are shooting the second season our exciting video show called FiftyFour, and we got to meet some of the amazing speakers and attendees.

The event ran over three days – Thursday night, Friday all day, and Saturday half day. I had the amazing privilege to be at the first ever Summerfest and all I can say in comparison to last year it may have lost some of the star-studded acts but what it lacked in performance was gained in spirt. The overall feeling was that this faith based festival was aimed at taking young adults deeper in their faith journey.

The theme for the festival was centered around being a generation that is counter culture – the “thunder in the desert” generation – a generation that lives by faith and not by sight. This was a huge declaration from the young adult age group of this country.

We spent Friday at the festival and managed to snap a few people who attended the event! Check the pics out below!

Good Looking or Looking Good?

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I recently went through a massive overhaul of my closet and overall look. The next thing you’re probably thinking is why?

Well before I get there I want to give you some background to this story. I was not a big shopper and previously was never into brands and branded clothing bar one famous rhino brand. This was because I could always find the clothes I wanted in my size (I was quite massive). One thing was clear I loved a good t-shirt with a crazy design on it. Shoes were a practical thing for me I knew which brands kept my size and refused to spend more than R500 on a pair of shoes, so when I saw a pair (they were usually high tops) I bought them.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Clothes never mattered to me.  I always said I’d rather have cold hard cash in my pocket than look expensive but couldn’t afford to get a takeout or even buy food.

A friend of mine and I were having a conversation after church one evening and she’s turns to me and says,”You dress like a 13-year-old skater boy”. I smiled, laughed and left graciously. Inside I was slightly offended by her honestly.

Here’s the thing, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and what I wanted to look like but I wasn’t motivated to take action. Until I got up one morning and decided that I was going to change! This had nothing to do with the fact that I was single, wanted to prove my friend wrong and kind of had eyes for another girl… or did it?

4 pairs of Jeans, 5 new t-shirts and 5 pairs of shoes later it’s mostly mission accomplished. Some of my friends joke I now have a shopping addiction.

What’s on the inside counts

I was just thinking about it the other day because many people have been very encouraging about my new wardrobe selections but at the same time I’m concerned because I have changed a lot in the process. It seems that I have started being more worried about with looking the part rather than actually being the part. Instead of looking to God, I have started idolising brands and clothes instead.

This concerns me and I have to check myself because sometimes we can get so caught up in looking the part we forget to actually be the part and it all becomes a show.

I’m still working on it but the truth is that God wants us to look good like Him. Not literally (obviously!) but to be models of His style and His make because we were made in His image.

If you are going through something similar and maybe feeling the weight of trying to look good for others why not click the link below?

All Eyes On the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016

It’s that time again!!! And it’s all happening in Johannesburg, South Africa
Africa’s top musicians will share the stage with International artists at the MTV Africa Music Awards, later this month. This spectacular event takes place on 22 October at Ticketpro Dome.
Hosted by one of SA’s top comedians, MAMA’S will definitely be a huge hit!

You can vote for your favorite artist on http://mama.mtv.com/voting/

Here are the nominees…

Best Male

AKA (South Africa)Black Coffee (South Africa)Diamond (Tanzania)Patoranking (Nigeria)Wizkid (Nigeria)

Best Live

Cassper Nyovest (South Africa)Eddy Kenzo (Uganda)Flavour (Nigeria)Mafikizolo (South Africa)Stonebwoy (Ghana)

Best Group

Mi Casa (South Africa)Navy Kenzo (Tanzania)R2bees (Ghana)Sauti Sol (Kenya)Toofan (Togo)

Best Collaboration

AKA feat. Burna Boy, Khuli Chana & Yanga – “Baddest” (South Africa/Nigeria)DJ Maphorisa feat. Wizkid & DJ Bucks – “Soweto Baby” ((South Africa/Nigeria)Nasty C feat. Davido, Cassper – “Juice Back Remix” (Nigeria/South Africa)Patoranking feat. Sarkodie – “No Kissing” (Nigeria/Ghana)Sauti Sol feat. Alikiba – “Unconditionally Bae” (Kenya/Tanzania)

Best Hip Hop

Emtee (South Africa)Kiff No Beat (Ivory Coast)Olamide (Nigeria)Riky Rick (South Africa)Ycee (Nigeria)

Best Pop/Alternative

Desmond & The Tutus (South Africa)LCNVL (South Africa)Shekinah (South Africa) / Kyle Deutsch (South Africa)Timo ODV (South Africa)Tresor (DRC)Best Lusophone

C4 Pedro (Angola)NGA (Angola)Lizha James (Mozambique)Nelson Freitas (Netherlands/Cape Verde)Preto Show (Angola)

Personality of the Year

Caster Semenya (South Africa)Linda Ikeji (Nigeria)Pearl Thusi (South Africa)Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)Wizkid (Nigeria)

Best International

Adele (UK)Beyoncé (USA)Drake (Canada)Future (USA)Rihanna (Barbados)

http://mama.mtv.com/voting/

Living Loud with 5FM

Last Saturday we attended the 5fm Live Loud event at Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town, scheduled on a very special day in South Africa – Heritage Day!

This is one day where we celebrate all the many different cultures that come together that make South Africa great, and I thought the festival embodied that exact thing. Young and old came out to see the star-studded line up that included Black Coffee, Jimmy Nevis, Matthew Mole, the The Dirty Skirts and many more huge South African artists.

Some fans were upset as two headlining acts dropped out at the last minute but even without them the line up was great!

We attended the event because we are shooting for our exciting new video show called FiftyFour, and we got to meet some of the amazing acts.

As I stood alongside 5fm DJ Nick Hamann and watched a DJ from my home town (Ryan The DJ) perform his set live – not something a lot of DJs do these days – I felt really proud because of the vast amount of talent in our country and the willingness of the local audience to embrace and support them.

All in all it was a really cool day. I spent most of the time behind the lens of a camera so didn’t end up taking many pics of myself but here some cool photos of the event itself.

#SupaMegaShow: Got me in a good mood

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After visiting AKA’s pop-up store last week, I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the show on Saturday. I must be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve been to a hip-hop concert, let alone that of a South African artist, so I was immensely excited. I’m a huge fan of the local hip-hop industry of late and also of the man himself, AKA.

The venue, Shimmy Beach Club in the beautiful Cape Town harbour, overlooks the port entrance and makes for a stunning backdrop for a concert. The stage was something I’ve never seen before, with an outstretched ramp that extended over a pool! Apparently this was AKA’s idea (nice one).

I arrived quite early and had the privilege of watching AKA sound check and I was very impressed. I met him briefly, but he looks like someone who really takes pride in his craft; he was meticulous in every area of the production.

The evening kicked off with someone who I think has the best voice in the industry – Kwesta! He had the crowd rocking to some of his hits and gave an extremely energetic performance. I actually sometimes found myself forgetting to take photos because I was bopping or busting a move.

After Kwesta, Kapital K (the host) came on and pumped up the crowd while a few DJs came on and cranked out throwbacks of note. From house to RnB and hip-hop featured as the MC and DJ built up to the main act. While this was going on I was snapping pics of partygoers from different angles (check out the photos below to see if you can spot yourself!).

AKA was scheduled to come on at 10pm, and who would have thought.. he was actually on time! My expectation of the show was really low because I honestly just thought it was going to be him and a backing track, but it was so much more. Each sound was specifically arranged for the show and some tracks sounded really cool – tailor-made for the live audience.

The sound itself was fantastic throughout the evening – not to mention the phenomenal band. AKA performed a number of his chart-topping tracks and even had Yanga, DA L.E.S and J.R. on hand to jump in on their features. A random fan popped on stage at some point – which was handled very well by DA L.E.S and AKA (hasn’t gone well for AKA in the past). My favourite part of the show was AKA’s performance of Congratulate where he acknowledged his parents (who were in the crowd) and his hometown of Mitchells Plain. There was so much authenticity about his performance – as if it was a real tribute to everyone in the venue that night. At one point he popped a bottle of champaign and poured it into people’s cups – it was quite surreal.

All in all a great night! I went home smiling, with some great pictures and footage of the event! After this concert I can honestly say, AKA, you are the real Supa Mega!

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