Ahead of Women’s Day 2019, I had a chance to speak to one of the most exciting female DJs in the country; DJ Le Soul.
Hailing from KZN, the 28-year-old muso has just released a new single featuring a pair of legendary artists and her star is at the highest that it’s ever been. And yet, there’s a big sense that she is far from done. Not only does she want more from herself but she wants more from the industry as you’re all about to discover.
With Women’s Day upon us, I took a moment to ask the Gagasi FM and club DJ what she thinks of the number of the female DJing landscape. As someone who began her career circa 2009, I wanted to know if she was happy with the representation women were receiving 10 years later. The outspoken DJ took me aback when she said:
“I appreciate the female DJs who took the risk and started something but in this industry I still feel like there aren’t enough women represented - specifically as DJs. It needs to get the point where it’s no longer about ‘male domination’ because there is no domination - that’s where we need to get to.”
So where’s the issue? As a man I appreciate there’s only so much I will ever be able to observe about the many challenges women face in our industries. Some of them on the surface, others beneath it. There’s no shortage of women who want to be DJs, but I was curious to know why the representation was so poor and DJ Le Soul explained:
“There are barriers when you start out as a DJ; nobody wants to teach you, nobody wants to put you on etc. But there’s ways to overcome, there’s the internet, there’s YouTube. I’m self-taught and you can get to that point too!”
If her tone didn’t shock me, her next answer completely did. I asked how much of a percentage female DJs make up in South Africa:
“Of the total DJs in South Africa, maybe only 5%(?!) are female. I really want it to change, I want to see female producers, female drummers, the vocalists are stepping up so it should be across the board”
I couldn’t help but wonder if one of the reasons why we don’t see more female DJs was the attitude we have towards newcomers who try and diversify. Look at how Dineo Ranaka and Pinky Girl have both been slammed for calling themselves DJs in recent months. I asked DJ Le Soul if this was a barrier for breaking in:
“The barrier exists but I don’t think there’s anything in the world that can stop you from doing what you want to do. If you don’t have the label, you can research how to get your music out there. You don’t have anyone pushing your song? Use your friends and network on Instagram to help push it. There are ways around any challenges anyone might face”
Right, that was a heavy segment of our interview, but it was a necessary conversation to have on this of all important days. When we talked about her work in recent months, the energy in the room was completely different.
DJ Le Soul is currently promoting a track titled Lo and it features Professor and Tzozo. When I asked how she was feeling about the track she began by pouring love and support to the veteran feature artists:
“I featured two legends on this track, Professor and Tzozo. Prof is quiet, and has always been a brother to me, while Tzozo is a lot more active but he’s still an incredible mentor to me!”
Lo is a laid back, loungey, soulful summer burner, dripping with Amapiano influence. I asked how she managed to evoke such emotions in one song:
“I’m a pianist, and I like incorporating soul into everything I do! As for it being a summer jam, I’m really hoping I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it is. The song features two legends who haven’t been in studio for ages, and here they are TOGETHER!”
I had to be that guy; I teased the KZN-born artist for dabbling with a very Pretorian sound but I was amazed by the open minded response I received:
“If you can make house you can make anything! Let’s start embracing other genres as musicians in SOuth Africa. We shouldn’t limit it like ‘Just because I’m from Durban I can only do Gqom,’ no! The more the genres, the better for everybody”.
She gave a great example of one DJ who’s doing the same thing:
“I have so much respect for Maphorisa, if there’s a Gqom wave he’ll hop onto it. If there’s an amaPiano wave he will hop onto it, and he will do it well. I love what he’s done with Kabza, that song ‘Amantombazane’ yho! I cried the first time I heard it.”
Our conversation was insightful, intelligent and educating. Let’s hope that when we sit down for our next Women’s Day interview, there is a larger percentage of female DJs to boast about.