Sitting in during his rehearsal for AKA’s birthday celebration at Hush Bar and Lounge in Rosebank, Kasi Times caught up with DJ Fanatic, whose real name is Thabiso Maphutse. DJ Fanatic is in his absolute element behind the decks and is fast becoming one of the best Hip Hop DJs in South Africa. Being the backing DJ of one of South Africa’s revolutionary rappers, AKA, he sure does have a lot of weight on his shoulders.
We squeezed in a few minutes from his crazy schedule, albeit with several interruptions, but once the dust settled and we finally got to our interview, we discovered a down to earth and very humble guy. Here are a few things we found out about him:
Q: What’s your fondest childhood memory or earliest connection with music?
A: I don’t remember much about my childhood pre-high school but what I do remember is being in the school choir.
Q: When did you decide that music would be the path you’d follow?
A: I didn’t really decide; I don’t even know when I started deejaying. I just saw myself spinning discs and because I really enjoyed it, I kept at it.
Q: Why did you choose to be a Hip Hop DJ?
A: I started out as a House DJ but it felt monotonous. Many people might not know this, but Hip Hop music has more beats and instruments. I saw it as a better challenge and that’s why I chose it.
Q: When was your break into the industry?
A: I was signed by ShowLove in 2010.
Q: How did you become AKA’s DJ?
A: AKA recognised my skill. My manager, Tibz, approached me and told me that AKA was looking for a DJ. That’s how it started.
Q: What’s the best thing about your job?
A: Travelling and seeing beautiful places, but mostly connecting with the fans and getting the love and appreciation from them – and of course there are certain ‘perks’
Q: What is the most important lesson for those in your industry?
A: Don’t be bigger than the industry. Don’t get an ego and think you’re better than everyone just because you’re well-known. Always appreciate the fans because they are the ones that got you here and tomorrow they can also get you out. Most DJs and artists wonder why people don’t clap or appreciate them after their performance, it’s simply because they didn’t respect the people, so people don’t respect them back.
Q: What characteristics should DJs possess?
A: A certain presence when playing in front of a crowd. Good interpersonal skills and humility. They should be accessible and also stay away from all the stereotypes that surrounding DJs.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to make a break into the industry:
A: If you absolutely believe that it’s your calling, follow your dreams with gusto and don’t treat it like just a hobby. For me, it’s my job and it’s part of me and who I am. Also, stay focused and make sure you have a plan. Stay in school; that’s very important, and teach yourself the business side of the industry as it’s not only about the glam and spinning discs.
Q: Who’s your role model?
A: My mom; she’s the best and has supported me through everything. She’s the reason I have all this success.
Q: Whom do you admire in the music industry?
A: DJ Black Coffee. He’s an excellent producer and a great DJ. He has broken records that others haven’t even attempted to do, yet he’s still humble. I respect that. I also admire Khuli Chana. He’s been in the game for longer than most cats in Hip Hop but he hasn’t gained an big ego like some of them.
Q: What’s your favourite quote?
A: “Every day is Work” by Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane. This has made me work harder and I’ve seen that it’s true because every day and every moment for me is work. Even now as I’m speaking to you, this is work because I’m marketing myself. Sometimes Tibz will BBM me and say, “Dude, you haven’t tweeted in 3 days!” Social networking and staying in touch with my fans is also working and expanding my brand.