With the world at her fierce fingertips, TRACE chats exclusively with South Africa’s most daring of deck-demolishing dubstep DJ’s, Ms. Doowap; a peculiar force of nature who’s unique out-of-this-world style and sounds have transcended far beyond the confines of the African continent, now permeating international borders.
Born Khetsiwe Morgan in the Southern African country of Swaziland, DJ Doowap and her younger sister Nicole were raised in Johannesburg by their black Swati mother and white British father; a parental pairing that ultimately accounted for a multi-racial mix of magnetic proportions.
With an overarching inclination towards inspiring both herself and others through music, Doowap’s natural curiosity to tap into a multitude of eclectic cross-continental sounds has, in turn, elevated her musical repertoire and forged an entirely new boundary-pushing way of grasping, mixing and sharing her tasty tunage with doting followers.
Having spent a great deal of her spare time ingesting London’s underground music scene, clubs and various UK based studios in earlier years, the celestial ‘quirk queen’ managed to successfully complete a 4-year sound engineering course whilst living in London, making her way back to South Africa in 2012 with an encroaching devotion to dabble with SA’s music scene and turn it on its side by introducing new-age melodic mixes that one couldn’t possibly preconceive without harboring a boundless passion for the art form as well as a unique skill-set to match.
As soon as she touched-down in sunny South Africa, Doowap hit the ground running and endeavored to further expand her skills by enrolling at Johannesburg’s Academy of Sound Engineering, later graduating and pursuing a DJ course through DJ4LIFE.
Although DJ Doowap has paid an overwhelming amount of attention towards her craft of live mixing throughout the years, having played at widely publicized event hot-spots such as OppiKoppi (Odyssey), SUMO!’s notorious house parties, Soweto’s Zone 6 venue, Inner City Outer Space, Mozambique’s Tofo Ocean Festival and countless others, her distinct and undiscovered anomaly-like sense of style and rare beauty has amassed to an obscene amount of attention from fans and entertainment entities alike.
In 2013, DJ Doowap was scouted by South Africa’s leading urban youth radio station YFM, which kick-started her journey as a radio hostess on the ‘Hot 99 Dubstep’ chart, which see’s Doowap soothing the souls of dubstep die-hard’s in a weekly, hour-long, electric radio show.
It wasn’t long until corporate brands started taking notice and came knocking at Doowap’s door. She has since locked down endorsement deals with leading local and international retailers including Ray-Ban, Nike, Woolworths South Africa, G-Star Raw, Levis and Red Bull.
“Red Bull’s ‘Wings For Life World Run’ on the 8th of May 2016 will see 100% of the entry fees going to spinal chord research. 34 locations worldwide will all run, starting at the same time for a good cause. Being a part of any charitable cause is always personally significant.” – DJ Doowap.
Now that we’ve got you feeling properly acquainted with the daring dubstep DJ, it’s time to delve a little deeper and dabble with Doowap in this exclusive Q&A:
What’s the story behind your stage name ‘Doowap’?
Shawty Doowap, ‘Doowap’ being a chocolate and caramel muffin, was my nickname in school and that’s been my e-mail address for years; so choosing that as my alias came naturally. Other musical ‘Doowap’ connections, like Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing),” came thereafter.
What led to your decision to fully embrace a DJ career?
It was just a means to an end in the beginning, but after my first gig I got scouted by YFM and life put me on this path I had never imagined, but I thank the heavens for the guidance every day. The snowball effect of amazing opportunities that came once I started DJ’ing is a clear indication that I made the right choice.
What struggles have you faced on your journey thus far and how have you overcome them?
When I was in full swing in 2014, my team and I got hijacked on our way to Durban. Everything was taken; DJ decks, laptop, headphones, and hard drives, leaving me with nothing tangible to show that I was a DJ, not even music. The universe has a crazy way of taking something away as a sacrifice to show us our value and push us to the next level of being. I now have better all-round equipment and music than I ever did. I was getting too comfortable with my situation and I guess I needed a jolt in the right direction.
Describe your unique sound and the origins of the music you’re known by many to play.
I like to describe my sound or genre as ‘Bass’. I incorporate all types of genres including hip hop, R&B, trap and grime; all with that ‘Bass’ undertone to really hit the heart and soul. My love for ‘Bass’ music originated during the nights I spent whiling out in London’s underground clubs.
What other genres of music do you listen to?
Although I listen to all sorts of genres, I’m an old-school hip hop and R&B lover at heart.
Who have been your all-time most influential DJ’s and producers to date?
There are so many people I draw inspiration from, but internationally, I love and respect Diplo for his work ethic and the crowds he pulls in at every show. I saw him when he came to Jozi with his label ‘Mad Decent’ and he’s all about ‘getting free’ and partying hard, which is what I try and push every time I play. Locally though, I got mad respect for producer The Gobbla and Black Coffee is my top DJ.
To date, what has been your most career-defining moment?
Three events come to mind when I think of monumental highlights; playing at Oppikoppi, DJ’ing at the Nike Training Club events and touring Europe with Lex LaFoy for 17 shows. Oppikoppi was my all-time favorite gig because the love and energy from friends and the crowd on that day was inexplicable. I got taken over spiritually and was playing from another space where time slows down. I was doing tricks and effects I didn’t even know I could do.
How do you normally prepare for your sets? Is there a special ritual you carry out each time without fail?
There is no special ritual, but I spend a few days planning my playlist for that specific crowd and searching for any new music that I feel will fit in with my already existing music and that will suite the event I’m playing at. On the day of the gig, I practice a skeleton of what I am going to play, and then I pour myself a drink and get ready to party.
From the onset of your DJ experience, what have you found to be the biggest misconception people have about female DJ’s?
The biggest misconception is that there is even a gender difference when it comes to the purity of music!
With regard to collaborations, who would be the ‘Skrillex’ to your ‘Diplo’?
DJ-wise, I have yet to find a local that I would collaborate with because the person would have to be dripping with swag, have an awesome ear for all kinds of genres and of course love ‘Bass’. I haven’t found all 3 in someone just yet. Producer-wise, there are so many incredibly talented producers I want to work with, like The Gobbla, Nutscratchers, Ganja Beats and Muzi.
Where do you draw the inspiration for your organically out-of-the-box outward appearance?
I get asked this question a lot, but because it’s originally me from the moment I wake up, it happens naturally. Depending on the weather, how I feel and the hair color I’m wearing, ideas of outfits flow in image format in my mind as soon as I’ve open my cupboard. I will say that, in the back of my mind, helping to form the basis of my outfits is Aaliyah, TLC, Salt n Pepa and Boom Shaka.
Have there been any encounters of adversity you’ve endured as a consequence from more conservative South African’s – or people for that matter – who might be of the opinion that your appearance is far too much to take in or is deemed far too risqué?
Tell us a bit about your “Sexy Tsotsi” video.
Being a brand myself, I always get wonderful gifts and clothes from different labels so, in 2015, I decided to shoot short 15 second ads to show my appreciation and understanding of the brand that would like to collaborate with Doowap. For Sexy Tsotsi, SAMSON hooked me up with awesome overalls, so since it has always had an image of being for builders or factory workers, I decided to put a spin to it and add a ‘sexy’ flavor. For every Doowap ad, the whole creation is done in-house. My love, Trash Godd produced the music, shot and directed the video and my friend Lindu did the editing.
What behind-the-scenes antics did you get up to off-camera?
Since my love shot it, we did a fair bit of making out and perving behind the scenes.
Tell us a bit about your “Dickies” video.
Dickies is going with the slogan “Time To Evolve”, so how much more can we push Dickies than to have Doowap popping champagne at a bowls club, getting lit whilst golden oldies play bowls in the background? I wanted to put Dickies in a setting you would never imagine it would be placed.
Describe the ultimate goal that defines the pinnacle of your success?
At the Pinnacle of my success, the Doowap empire will be running itself through the avenues of music, fashion and entertainment whilst I travel the world with my love and our kids.
Where would you like to see your music going in coming years?
I would like to do world tours playing the music I have produced as well as the sounds of South Africa.
What’s next for Doowap?
I have learnt that discretion is extremely important when working on your empire, so all I can say is I am working extremely hard and will forever keep surprising, inspiring and shining.
Lastly, just for fun, who’s your local and international celebrity crush?
My local crush is Trash Godd [my man]! My International crush is Willy Monfret.