Female Disc Jockeys (DJs) don’t always get their due in this male-dominated profession, but Keziah Rachel aka DJ Kezz has made a mark in the industry.
Despite graduating with a degree in Political Science from Maseno University three years ago, the 23-year-old ventured into deejaying after failing to secure a white collar job.
Born and raised in Elgeyo Marakwet, DJ Kezz enrolled in a DJ school, Swag Sounds in 2018 where she trained for three months. She later undertook a three-month industrial attachment at Club Timber in Eldoret Town.
“The deejaying course taught me everything about the equipment, how to handle crowds, and market myself. When I did my first gig at Club Timber in Eldoret town it was thrilling to see the crowd ‘vibing’ along with me. They were all dancing and having a good time,” says DJ Kezz.
Ever since she can remember, she always liked listening to music and it is during her campus days that she developed a liking for deejaying.
“While in campus, I would go to a club and get excited on how the DJs did their thing,” she adds.
The DJ plays all music genres including hip hop, retro, pop, classical, reggae, rock and Afrobeat among others. In recent months, she has played at food festivals, dance jams, and clubs.
“Every place has a different vibe and you need to plan your set accordingly. You may not always get the response you are looking for, so be prepared for that too,” she says.
The single mother performs at Club Timber, Club Signature, Bamboo and Blue Lounge and private weddings to name a few.
She says she enjoys controlling the vibe of a room with her music.
“People are attentive. If you mess up, they know. And if you do, you need the confidence to rectify it immediately,” Kezz says.
“Just playing music all night isn’t enough. Maintaining eye contact with the audience and engaging with them is important. The challenge lies in creating the experience,” she says.
Female DJs can be turned away because of their gender. But there’s the other side, too.
“Sometimes you are hired because you are a woman. Some of the equipment we use are extremely expensive so acquiring them remains one of the major challenges,” says DJ Kezz.
She says not many women take up DJ jobs because they worry about their safety. The first worry is how venue managers and audiences would treat them.
“I’ve never had a bad experience but women are reluctant because of the timings. There will be a lot of late nights, which sometimes is unsafe. Getting home alone after work is a concern,” she says.
She charges between Sh30,000 and Sh40,000 for a gig.
“When you are new, you can’t expect everything to be handed to you. You have to hustle hard and keep networking.
Keep yourself relevant and continue to improve yourself. Learning new skills and bringing something new to the table is what sets you apart,” she adds.
She also says that gigs don’t usually have a written contract; she, therefore, advises other DJs to always ask for advance payment.
“It’s a constant struggle to run after payments. That is why I always ask for an advance so there’s some sort of transaction that’s already taken place,” says the second born in a family of three.
She prepares for gigs by listening to music and researching on the kind of music that is popular with her audience.
“My memorable gig was last year when I performed at Black Palm in Kisumu. People were so energised and excited that the show lasted until sunrise, “she says excitedly.
DJ Kezz says she always receives massive support from her family; and is happy that they now understand that deejaying can settle bills.
The DJ who doubles as a Master of Ceremony says she looks up to DJ Joe Mfalme, DJ Fully Focus and DJ Mellow.
“I hope to go international in the next five years. I also look forward to mentoring more girls to take up deejaying and get to the levels that I will have gotten to by then” DJ Kezz says.