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Interview: DJ Kumi on coming back and why we should move beyond Afro House

today10th July 2018

Interview: DJ Kumi on coming back and why we should move beyond Afro House

DJ Kumi, in about 4 years had gathered enough buzz to become one of the few EDM stars in the country. Achieving great success from his constant original productions and remixes, DJ Kumi’s career was on the rise – he even featured on a compilation disk – Global Trance Music by U.M.A. Music Awards and Around the Globe.

300,000 Soundcloud plays later and a nomination for Best East African DJ at the African Global DJ Awards 2013,  DJ Kumi went on radio silence in 2014. 4 years later, he is back with a 2 track EP which was released back in April.  

Midnight City – The All White Party 2012, Club Iconic. © Bernice Macharia/ LIT Kenya

First things first, in your own words, who is DJ Kumi?

Hard question. I am a music producer and DJ who likes making people feel good through music.

When did you get into music?

I really can’t remember when I started playing around with music production but I think it was back in 2004 and officially in 2008 – got around to deejaying in 2011. My first gig was at Club Barn with DJ UV.

You left at a point where you were getting a lot of positive traction. What prompted this and where did you go to?

I left music and deejaying for personal reasons – I didn’t feel it was for me at the time. I know that sounds odd, but I think sometimes in life it’s good to take a step back and evaluate the path you are on. I’m back now and focusing on creating my own unique sound and becoming more of an artist-style DJ.

Cover of Loving You EP by DJ Kumi & BV Accurate

We are loving your new EP. Can you take us behind the creative process?

Thanks, really glad you liked it. When I started producing again I decided to change my style. Most of my fans are used to me producing bigroom and progressive house.  I’m now making future bass and trap. 
For a long time I wanted to mix  hip-hop / RnB with EDM, and I think future bass and trap is the best way to do that.
I hooked up with BV Accurate and Phylis Kimani who I was really happy to work with. They are both amazing performers with great  voices that made the EP what it is. I wanted to make something that had a local feel but still had that international EDM touch. 
On my hiatus, I took a lot of time refining my music so that I can create my own unique sound. Hopefully that came out in this EP.

You’ve been around for almost 10 years now. What evolution have you seen in the industry? The good and the bad?

It’s been that long! It feels like I started the other day. The industry has changed a lot in the last few years – we have more international DJs coming to play here  and there are more clubs and deejays playing EDM. But I feel that the industry is focused on a specific sound of house music – it started with tech-house, progressive house, deep house and now Afro house. For us to have a more robust industry we should focus more on different types of electronic music like trance, DnB, future bass, techno etc, like other countries.


ExoReality – Day 2, Impala Grounds. © Bernice Macharia/ LIT Kenya

We also haven’t tapped into the mainstream radio industry, that’s why we don’t have a full-time EDM radio station, we need a BBC radio one type of thing here so that more people can discover house music. But over time more EDM producers will start making mainstream sounds and hopefully more radio stations and people will start getting into the movement.

Most deejays fall in more the one category. At the end of the day you need to position yourself well and work hard to develop your image. The bottom line is that most events are done for a profit – if you don’t have the ability to help the event organizer make a profit, it might be hard for you to land constant gigs. It might sound harsh but it’s the truth.

On the contrary,a lot of Kenyan producers create mainstream music. They have been for a while but they never make to play the gigs that are around. How does one crack the code to these events?

I’m not saying we don’t have producers who do mainstream electronic music just that they find it hard to land airplay and gigs. I actually wrote an article on this topic on my Facebook page, it’s called How to become a successful EDM DJ in Kenya (read part 1 here, get the keys to the kingdom in part 2 here). The problem they are facing is how they market themselves, you can basically  market yourself as a DJ in three ways:
  1. Artist  – Fans want to come see you perform your own music. Your unique selling point is that you produce your own music too. Being unique will bring in a different segment of the market that other DJs can’t tap into and when an event organizer puts you on their line-up, they know people will want to come see you perform.
  2. Popular DJ – This one is self explanatory, you just need to work hard and get a lot of followers and fans, most likely you will play popular trending music. Your strength -bringing in a crowd.
  3.  Rock The Crowd Contender – This is an all round DJ who is a wizard in playing with the emotions of a crowd. They know exactly what to play and when to play – they are very good at giving people a good time – thus they can rock a crowd. When an event organizer puts them on a line-up, they know this DJ might not pull a big crowd but they will definitely give the people who show up  a good time. These DJs are usually the backbone of every event. They have a constant resident somewhere. An example of this could be DJ UV, Kenroot5 and DJ Drazen.

ExoReality Festival, 2012. © Bernice Macharia/ LIT Kenya

 Production aside, when and where can people experience your gigs?

At the moment I don’t have a residency, but I’m planning to get one soon. In the meantime I am working on a podcast where I will be playing the best mix of future bass and trap music. I’ll be posting it on my YouTube page so it will be easy for my fans to access it.
To become an artist-style DJ, you have to create a unique sound or have a sound that people can identify you by. Being different from others is key.

All For Love, 2012 The Loft.
© Bernice Macharia/ LIT Kenya

Give us those final words of wisdom

For my parting shot, I would like to tell  upcoming deejays and producers to think long-term. They should spend their time perfecting their craft, building their image and growing a fan base. Rome was definitely not built in a day – take your time and enjoy the experience. As for myself, I’m planning on releasing more music and soon I will be playing live shows, so watch this space.
Loving You by DJ Kumi is out now. It can be streamed on iTunes  and purchased on Deezer or Juno.

The post Interview: DJ Kumi on coming back and why we should move beyond Afro House appeared first on EDM Kenya.

Source: EDM Feeds (Source: EDM Kenya)

Written by: LionafriQ Team

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