Siyanda Makanya famously known as DJ Kabila, a South African deejay based in Durban with his roots from the dusty township of Mthatha, South Africa. His love for the deejay box dates back to the 1990’s. Fresh from his recent inspirational release titled Somnyama with Wendy Soni, Sho Mag brings you the one on one with this very dynamic house music legend.
Very warm welcome to Sho Mag and thank you for taking some time out for this one on one. Can you start by telling us who is DJ Kabila and where is he from?
Dj Kabila is born Siyanda Makanya in a small town of Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Basically, I am a simple guy who loves music and just enjoy making people dance.
The stage name DJ Kabila is a catchy one we must say, where does it come from and why did opt for that name?
Lol growing in the township we always been giving each other names. I guess I have always been a General coz I was given the nickname of the leader of Congo Laurent Kabila so it stuck with me forever.
Looking back at your musical journey so far. What inspired you to be part of the House music scene and how has your journey been thus far?
Growing up we always followed DJs who were older than us, whether being there to pick up sound or being in the party to dance, that was the beginning of it all. I think 1998, I heard one of the compilations DJ Fresh did from a party and that was it, I knew I had to not just follow the DJs but to be one of them.
You joined Blackcoffee’s musical imprint Soulistic Music back in 2006. How was it like working with a musical legend such as Blackcoffee and which lessons did you take with you from that?
Blackcoffee is a long time friend of mine who has always been a deejay from our childhood, so he has always watched me grow through my musical journey. When he had the opportunity to start his label he called me in as his first signed artist and released my first two albums Believe and Soulistic Music Cuts vol 1. I’ve learnt a lot from him not only the skill he has, but his strategic moves in building his businesses and his brand.
Having been part of the South African House Music Scene since the 90’s. What has kept The General going strong after all these years?
I think knowing what you want helps you a lot in this business, patience, and respecting the ones before you. 10% talent is what really works in this business, the rest is your moves, hard work, keeping good contacts and having consistency.
After leaving Soulistic Music, you then started your own music label Musiq Soldier Entertainment. How did that come about and what is Musiq Soldier Entertainment about?
Musiq Soldier Entertainment is a company I registered in 2007 which was solely for doing events and sound hire. Before even signing with Soulistic, I have been doing events. The next step for me was to expand my brand and try to get to every corner of the world, being at Soulistic, I realized what was short of my brand and was inspired to work in the studio to produce my own sound. That’s when my music came about, working with different musicians and collaborators to get what was inside me musically.
Besides your contribution within the Dance Music scene, you are also the founder of the Beyond Disability Organization. Care to tell us more about what this organization is all about?
Beyond Disability is a non-profit organization which is responsible to address issues affecting people with disabilities through edutainment, by me being in the public platform and also being affected by the same issues. I felt I needed to be the voice and play my part.
Big Up on the recent release of your smash single with Wendy Soni. Can you walk us through this very empowering track?
Somnyama is a praise song for all the strong women of Africa. It is a reflection of beauty amongst us as Africans and how we need to embrace each other as a black nation.
Working with a talented vocalist such as Wendy Soni must have been a breeze. How did this collaboration come about and what is the message behind Somnyama?
I had just followed one of my icon photographers Zanele Muholi who inspired this body of work Somnyama where they are telling a story of black queens through their book Somnyama Ngonyama. And through a song I had to extend this message in celebration of the beautiful Queens Of Africa whether being in politics, sports, writers and visual arts. Extending this message with someone like Wendy Soni was really a breeze, she gelled easily to the concept and we got out a beautiful song embracing African Queens and the beauty of African woman.
Music should be made for the masses. How is Somnyama received by the public, dancefloors and the deejay community at large?
This song touches the young and the old, it cuts through every musical genre because it is honest and comes from the heart. I think I always do music which comes from the heart, rather looking for the next hit.
This year promises to be a great one in terms of music. Are there any projects on the pipeline we can expect from you this year as well?
This year has been great, as the music has even taken me abroad. The next move is to complete my EP, The Prayer, which will drop at the end of January.
Your five musicians you’d collaborate with on a project with and why?
I would like to one day work with Blackmotion, Busie, Thandiswa Mazwai, Mbuso Khoza and Ami Faku. All these have a distinct way of artistry and represent an authentic African sound. I am just a fan of their music.
Any last words from The General to the people out there who support his music?
Let us all live with peace, love and harmony. This world will be a better place with good energy and uplifting one another.