Deejaying was not considered a good career option years back and is still not fully embraced by many. It was considered more of a fun activity or hobby than a serious career.
But in developed countries, DJs get to be famous, they create music and play at upmarket clubs, major festivals and earn huge money.
Most international DJs gain their fame by producing music. They include US superstar DJ Khaled, David Guetta, Master KG and Oskido of South Africa.
In Malawi most DJs are yet to hit it big it terms of money but the industry is growing.
VJ Ice, real name Anthony Malisawa, is one of the celebrated DJs in Malawi. He is a co-founder of King of the Nights which is a team of DJs. He is also a producer, video director and one of the most creative and talented youth Malawi has ever produced.
He said Deejaying is something that Malawians still take as a joke.
“I think this is so because we don’t have options. I am glad that slowly people are appreciating our efforts and the industry of deejaying is growing so fast,” he said.
The multi award-winning DJ started deejaying in primary school and mentions his dad as his main influencer.
“Growing up, my dad introduced us to different types of music and I was always passionate about playing music at house parties for family and friends,” he said.
VJ Ice said Jamaican deejays have also influenced him as he used to listen to mixtapes a lot when he was young. However, growing up there was a tape called mixmatoes which made him love the blending of songs djs were doing and he got serious with his career in 2006.
The multitalented artist said deejaying is a career that grows slowly as it needs a lot of practice.
He said currently the Covid-19 pandemic has affected or slowed down activities of deejays.
VJ Ice said it is hard in Malawi to convince events organisers on the importance of deejays.
He said: “I love being a DJ and when I am on stage I don’t usually prepare a set, but I build the set from warming up songs to club bangers as the night goes.
“And I have a tendency of practicing at home to make it easier when I am at work so that my fans should have the best. One thing people have to remember is that music is timeless, but genres come and go like fashion trend. So, we stick to those that are hot at the moment and keep the party going.”
VJ Ice added that as a DJ, foundation is important.
“Sadly I feel a lot of Malawians do not know our old songs and these songs are slowly dying,” he said.
The popular DJ said most of the time during his set, he plays both old and new Malawian music to keep the heritage.
“I am always stunned with my fans indebtedness and I get a lot of feedback on how nice the party or the event was with my entertaining sets,” he said.
But what is the secret to his success?
“My secret to success is practicing a lot and reading my fans when I am on my set. Once I play a song I see the reactions of my audience,” said the DJ who confessed to be earning a good living from the job.
Malisawa said playing at different settings helps to know more music and gain more skills in handling different type of people because what is hot in one area cannot be hot in another.
In his career, he has shared stage with many big DJs like Major Lazer at Lake of Stars in 2018 and his favorites DJs includes DJ Reubie and DJ Flame. He says if he had a chance to change his career he would change nothing because this is the gift that God gave him.
Having been in the game for 16 years, VJ Ice has worked with a lot of people to create his brand but his long time brothers in the game, DJs Flame and Reubie have always been there helping him grow and as Kings Of The Nights they have helped each other to grow
The DJ also mentions poet Qabaniso Malewezi as someone who helped shape him as an entertainer.
Apart from music, Malisawa likes watching animations and sleeping.
In a separate interview, poet Q Malewezi said VJ Ice is one of the most versatile and hardworking creatives in the country.
He said he has demonstrated this as a DJ, producer, graphics designer and videographer. He said VJ Ice performs all these roles with excellence.
“To me, he is a disciplined individual and it is always a pleasure to work with him. His vast knowledge of music sets him apart. We have worked with him on so many events for different audiences and he has played music that suited each one of them,” he said.
Malewezi said he don’t only see VJ Ice as an integral part of the music industry but one of the shapes of the creative industry as a whole and he is defining a new sound for Malawian dance music.