She's one of the busiest up and coming female gospel Gqom DJ’s in the Eastern Cape.
Chrysline “DJ Christy” Ruiters (27) says with all the hardships she has been through in her life, now is her time to shine.
Christy is a resident DJ at YOLO club in Queenstown and So What Lounge in Mthatha where she was one of the headline acts for Busiswa’s album launch.
If you asked her a few years ago if she saw this coming, she would say ‘never.’
Christy started DJIng in 2016. “I used to go out clubbing with friends. I didn’t drink alcohol or smoke, but I went out for the music,” she says. “But I was never completely satisfied with what other DJs were playing, so I decided to learn how to play the sound I now specialise in.
“I asked Master J [fellow DJ] to show me my way around the decks and the rest is history.”
For four days, Christy would practice at YOLO lounge before being confident enough to play for a crowd. “I remember it was a Thursday night when Master J decided to let me play alone on the decks and that’s the day I started attracting crowds.”
Christy says DJing is all she knows. “I don’t know where I would be right now without music because my life was a mess.”
Born in Queenstown, Christy spent some of her childhood in Johannesburg with relatives before moving to Indwe, in the Chris Hani District Municipality with her mom Rose Anne Ruiters’s extended relatives.
“I used to see my mom on holidays and sometimes on weekends,” she says. In 2005 her mom told her that she was diagnosed with HIV and that she didn’t have too long to live.
"You know back then HIV was taboo and it was even hard to visit someone in the hospital who had the disease,” she says. “My mom told me she was ill and she didn’t know if she was going to make it because she was very ill.”
This broke Christy because she hadn’t spent much time with her mom. “I was 11 years old when she broke the news to me. She knew I was strong and told me, I will just have to be a big girl from now.”
On 13 January 2006 Christy’s mom died. “I was still not living with her at the time. She was staying in Lady Frere. I never saw how my mom got ill and I used to blame people for not taking me to see her but I later that I wasn’t allowed to go see her because I was still too young,” she says.
When her mom died, her father's family took her to live with her aunt and uncle. “That’s when things took a sharp curve for me,” she says.
“When my mom passed away I lived with relatives who I thought loved me when my mom was still alive, but they changed. They hated me being in their space; I was always dirty or hungry and had no clothes. I was blamed when things went missing in the house. Even the teachers could sense that there was something wrong at home. They would give me clothes and bring lunch from their home and they helped me because they knew my mom.”
In 2009 Christy says one of her relatives tried to rape her while she was sleeping. “There many of us in the house and I slept in the room with my uncle and his children. While sleeping, I felt something heavy on top of me and woke up to find he had removed my pants and climbed on top of me in the night,” she says.
“I asked what he was doing and he got shocked and got out. I stood up, left my pants, and ran into my aunts’ bedroom and told her what happened,” she says.
“My aunt was shocked, but the family said they would handle the matter. But since then, the family never liked me. When I told my grandfather, he said, “Inoba yindlela owamkelwa ngayo familini” (Maybe that’s how they are welcoming you into the family). His words still haunt me,” she says.
Later she confided in a friend and when they found out, she was chased out of the house and moved in with her mom’s childhood friend, Phumla Gogela. “In 2011, she took me in and raised me like one of her own kids until I fell pregnant and gave birth to my six-year-old daughter Kendall Ruiters.”
She then moved out and lived in her grandfather's abandoned and dilapidated house. “The house had no bed or furniture, but I made it work,” she says. “I was getting help from neighbours, friends, and strangers. Everyone in Queenstown became my friend and parent,” she says. She found a job at a local Spar supermarket.
She says she couldn't live with her father because he had a serious mental illness which drove him to be violent and not remember many things. “My father is mentally unstable and was in no position to take care of me while growing up, hence I moved from home to home. But right now, he is better, less violent and he knows that I am his daughter,” she says.
In 2014 she looked for a place of her own and found a house to rent with a wife, husband, and three kids. “I am still living with this family and my daughter, I pay rent, they treat me like one of their own and they support my dream,” she says.
Due to her complicated childhood Christy completed her N4 studies at Ikhala FET College and is looking to further her studies and do a course in Sound Engineering. “Back then I couldn’t juggle being a mom, working and school, so I had to drop out,” she says.
During her spare time, she learned how to DJ and that is what helped her escape all the traumatic experiences in her life. “Music saved my life,” she says. “DJing has been so therapeutic for me; I was able to release anger, neglection, the hatred, heartbreak when I was behind the decks,” she says.
Through music, she met close friends like Mbongeni Twala who were her support system. “That guy became a brother to me. He would give me money for pads, food, and clothes when I had nothing,” she says.
“Zalalem Wakjira of club YOLO also played a big part in shaping the woman I am today, he gave me a job as a waitress, until I started DJing. I will forever be grateful to people who gave me food and a roof over my head. Now it's time for me to shine and not feel pity for myself,” she says.
In the near future, Christy wishes to help young people going through similar situations and to motivate them to never give up. “I’ve seen it all and all I want is to tell my story through the music.”