DJ VvadaA can’t remember when she wanted to be a disc jockey, but she recently recall looking through an old journal and seeing her resolution to be one. This was 2011. Ice Prince’s rippling, monstrous hit Oleku was in its twilight, and the music industry was turning a corner with the new, rising profiles of Wizkid and Davido. On another account, last year, she reconnected with her high school friend Jordan whose father was a dubstep DJ, and was reminded about how she wanted to learn how to DJ from him, between 2009 and 2010.
As a child, she consumed a music diet steeped in the gospel genre, from rap to reggae and the soft rock from Hillsong. Particularly, she admires adventurous DJs as well as those fluid in their mixing. Kaytranada, Calvin Harris, Black Coffee, and Heavy K inspire her with their sets and actual songs. Locally, she admires all the women in the business and dedication of AYE! DJ Joey and Honeeay, the latter two especially, provided support in the early stages of her career.
Honing her craft, DJ VvadaA stuck to the dream, taking up small gigs until scoring bigger set performances: the Shea Moisture launch, Jameson’s Brunch Out, a pre-wedding party in Athens, a birthday party in Turkey, Femme events and Nativeland’s 2019 concert. Also, performing at end-of-the-year parties for some reputable companies defined her portfolio as a mobile DJ, her selections and transitions becoming a calling card.
Being a disc jockey brings out her creative side, a way of appreciating the songs she loves, and also creatives good vibes for audience to enjoy. In this interview with YNaija’s Next Rated, DJ VvadaA talks about the state of the music industry, teaming up with Bounce Radio Live for their weekly house mix and how the coronavirus pandemic has presented opportunities to be relevant.
What are the challenges you have faced – and still facing – as a female DJ in Nigeria?
Up to this point, I cant say that I am facing any particular challenges as a female DJ. I know I have received snide remarks from people who are shocked that I am a woman and I DJ, but nothing that did not directly affect me.
I would say though, that as a DJ, (and a lot of my DJ friends have mentioned this to me as well), sometimes the event organisers tend to overlook your contribution, and can be a bit dismissive of the role you play in the success of an event. My DJ colleagues and I have experienced this a lot in our careers, and I think unless you are a celeb DJ, you wont get your basic recognition. I have learnt the importance of demanding acknowledgement and being confident in the value that I provide to an event.
What techniques do you use to engage listeners when DJing?
Choosing the right songs that people love and can relate to and mixing them as smoothly as I can together.
Whats your favourite music streaming platform and how do you stay up to date with musical trends?
I do not have a favourite but I am currently with Apple Music, and I recently signed up with Spotify and Audiomack. I stay up to date in many ways, through playlists, social media and even the radio. I am grateful to have been a user of SoundCloud during its peak years. A lot of gems broke out from there for both local and international artists.
DJs usually have music genres they like and are drawn to. Which is it for you?
It is hard to pick a genre I like because it really depends on my mood. But I love House music (especially SA house and Afro house), and I love starting my sets with House because it gets me excited & makes me feel confident. The typical bpms and instruments used are favourable for getting the crowd moving.
Whats your opinion on the current state of Nigerian music and the international appeal of Afrobeats?
Nigerian music right now is amazing. There is so much to choose from, there are so many different sounds, and I love how our sound has evolved over the years. We have seen the international appeal for afro beats increase, and the exciting part about this is with or without international appeal or recognition, we are still killing it.
Who are your top three Nigerian artistes and why?
This is a very difficult question, it is absolutely impossible to choose my top 3 when it comes to music. There are so many of them doing amazing things and bringing different things to the table as well. I will say that at the moment my favorite is Burna Boy because he is so consistent with what he brings to the table. I also really enjoy Rema, Dami Oniru, Tems, Santi, Odunsi, Ajebutter, BOJ, AYL, Tay Iwar, the list goes on.
You teamed up with Bounce Radio Live for a weekly house party mix. How did this happen?
The lovely team at Bounce Radio Live reached out to me, they heard me play at some events and played my mix on SoundCloud and felt I was a good fit for what they were trying to create. So, of course I was happy to be a part of it. It was surreal hearing my mix on their radio station for the first time, I am enjoying my journey with them.
Do you think DJs in Nigeria should unionise?
A union could be a good thing, if it is run properly. DJs could have a closer community, younger DJs could develop their skills, potentially have easier access to music etc. At the moment though, I think, DJs generally have their community and their people, so unionising is not that important, but it could be a nice thing.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you as a DJ and how have you been finding your way around it?
A lot of events I was looking forward to DJing at got cancelled, a traditional wedding, a destination wedding (I was really excited about this), and many other events.
I cannot say that I have found my way around it yet, but it is exciting to see other DJs host online parties, events and find ways to connect to people and cheer them up with music in these dark times. It really is a difficult time for many DJs who do this full time, and I am hoping for a pandemic free world soon so that they can get back to what they love!
I am generally a very shy and reserved person so I have not been as active as I should with social media, like other DJs have been during this period. Nevertheless, I have had the opportunity to DJ at a number of zoom parties, and I have my ongoing radio show with Bounce Radio Live (every Saturday at 11pm) which has been keeping me busy and inspired.
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies, anime and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.