I am superbly excited and appreciative that my first DJ interview is with the talented DJ Willy. I have been in this man’s company a good few times, but I can never find the courage to actually make conversation. There is something about his stature that I just find intimidating and everybody tells me he is such a humble man, which he undoubtedly is, I just can’t get myself to speak around him – those who know me are probably laughing because they know how talkative I am, but with the amount of talent that this man possesses, I am almost unashamedly mute, LOL
So how did I get it right to interview this man? Email, LOL – Imagine I had to sit down with Willy and not be able to say two words?! LOSL
Anyhoo – here are the questions and answers between myself and the great DJ Willy Wilfred (as I like to call him)
Nicci: It’s been a month since you have won Best Club DJ and for the second year consecutively, what does that mean to you and how will it attribute to your career?
Willy: I am over the moon that I could have won Best Club DJ 2 years in a row. I put in lots of hours and hard work over the years trying to create my style of DJ-ing and to see it paying off and being appreciated by so many people is indescribable. It also motivates me now to further evolve myself and see how else I can learn new tricks and skills and styles. THE COMPETITION AS I UNDERSTAND IT IS ABOUT BEING A CLUB DJ- from club to club you have to change your style and learn to read the crowd. I would like to play in as many different clubs as I can this year. To meet new people and learn as many new tricks as possible and possibly hook up with other DJs (young and old) across the country to start sharing skills and ideas. I loved the camaraderie of the event and how we all enjoyed each other’s sets. We should keep this energy going and keep challenging each other to new heights and up the reputation of Cape Town DJs.
N: When and how did DJ Willy come about?
W: Music was always playing in our house. My grandfather was in a band, my uncle still plays the clarinet and my dad still sings his favourite songs at his house. My mom always had the radio on, and my older siblings would be listening to their music. We love music trivia, knowing who sings what song and we always try to guess the song as soon as it starts playing. My brother was a DJ and the DJ-bug bit me in my first year of high school and after watching him, I knew it was something I needed to do. He showed me the basic and we started sharing skills between one another, whenever either one learnt something new, we would show the other and from there it started and has been growing.
N: How has “DJ Willy” evolved over the years?
W: I would say I started out as a commercial dance DJ and then when I got into turntabilism, I started specializing in HipHop and R&B. Now I prefer to be versatile and dabble in many genres of music so that I can play at any gig, from clubs and events to corporate events and even weddings
((Holi hoh imagine DJ Willy at your wedding? I know my groom may just want to reconsider his choice in bride right there on the dance floor))
N:Who inspires you? What influences you and/or your track selection?
W: Actually ALL other DJs inspire me. I love hearing how they mix and blend music because each DJ has a unique style. When I am at a gig, I tend to feed off what hype they have created and take it from there. I usually don’t plan my sets, so I don’t have a set playlist. I just rock up at a gig, listen to what the other DJs are playing, feed off the energy of the crowd and improvise from there. Although HipHop and R&B has always been my preference. I often have to branch out into different genres of music during my sets. Most times whilst driving to and from or between gigs, I would listen to love songs at top volume and have a little karaoke session in my car. I like to zone out and listen to something completely different before and after my gigs.
((Can you picture that karaoke session? LOSL))
N: Do you have any memorable moments during the tenure of your DJ career?
W: Some of my memorable moments definitely have to be the ones at the DJ battles I entered. From the 3 Hip Hop Indaba’s I won to my 2 consecutive Best Club DJ titles, to all the other times I didn’t make it in a battle. DJ Battles have always been a highlight for me and I have made so many friends and collaborated with so many DJ’s because of it.
Sneaking into a press conference and getting to meet and chat with DJ Jazzy Jeff was another highlight for me. His style of scratching and playing has greatly influenced my style at the start. So meeting him and then playing at an event after him was like a dream come true.
I also got to meet DJ Qbert, my favorite scratch DJ on the planet, at a DJ workshop and watched him play at a gig in Cape Town. That was another dream come true, because in my opinion, he is the most influential DJ to the art of DJ’ing and turntabilism. And getting to meet him and see him jam was unbelievable.
Then there was my chance encounter at Good Hope FM where I got to meet Fatman Scoop. The man with the biggest voice on earth. For someone with a huge persona like his, he is quite a humble and friendly guy.
There are so many gigs that stand out for me during my career that I could spend all week writing and describing them. But a few for now include winning the Best Club DJ competitions. The support from my family and friends and even people I didn’t know was completely overwhelming. At those moments it felt like all my hard work had paid off.
Then there was a private gig I did where I got to DJ for 50 Cent and his G-Unit crew. To my surprise though, after me dropping some classic hip hop hits and expecting 50 Cent’s DJ to do the same after my set, he starts playing Electro House music. I didn’t expect that and was pleasantly surprised.
…and then of course, quite a few times, due to whatever reasons, the turnout at a gig just doesn’t materialize, so I have played sets to only the staff at a gig – at least they still got to have a good time and I got some practice time in 🙂
N: What (in your opinion) would be the pinnacle point in your DJ career?
W: I would love to have a scratch jam session with DJ Qbert and D-Styles. That would be the first wish, then to DJ at an event with them would be great. Then for some reason, I would love to play a set at a huge electronic festival like TomorrowLand or Ultra alongside guys like Tiesto, Avicii or Martin Garrix… and then finally, even just once, if I could be the DJ while Busta Rhymes performs on stage, my DJ career would be complete.
((Universal powers that be, are you reading this?? Let’s see if we can make it happen))
N: Where do you see your career moving or growing to?
W: I would love to move into production, making my own beats and eventually making my own music; and I would love to just continually link up with other DJs and grow the art we call DJ-ing and Turntabilism.
N: How do you handle negative criticism? Do you let it affect you?
W: I usually don’t respond to negative criticism, but I do use it to grow me. Sometimes people will compare what I do or don’t do to other DJs. I am always open to learning new things, keeping up with the trends and learning from other DJs; so whenever I get a chance to grow and evolve myself, I do.
N: What words of advice do you have for up and coming DJs?
W: Put lots of time and effort into creating your style. Learn from other DJs and use that knowledge to better yourself and evolve yourself. Don’t copy someone else’s style, always try to be innovative.
N: Lastly any thanks and acknowledgement to those who have contributed to your journey thus far?
W: I have to thank my brother for getting the ball rolling and starting my DJ career. To my wife, who has supported me and helped me build my brand – She helps me with all my important decisions.
Big ups to Ready D for igniting the spark I had for scratching.
And a huge thanks to all my family, friends and all the people who ever came to see and hear me play at an event – without you guys I would not be where I am today.
Reading through these answers only makes me believe more all the good things I have heard about this great man. I appreciate the rawness and honesty I sensed whilst reading through it all.
For more info and to keep up to date with the latest gigs and events of DJ Willy, you may follow his Facebook page DJ Willy, Twitter @djwillyza and Instagram: djwillyza
If you’re a stranger to the southern suburbs of Cape Town, you will find DJ Willy frequently at Chilli Bar, Southfield alternatively he also frequents The Nigel Pierce Show on Good Hope FM.