“There’s no clear path for success in music, you have to piece things together yourself” - DJ Zinhle

Image: Instagram
Image: Instagram

For those who missed the first episode, what is the show about?

It’s about finding new talent and I’m one of the mentors. There are five contestants, and each week they are given a different mentor to help them with a specific challenge. Then they get a score for their efforts.

Are you enjoying the show?

I’m not used to TV work so it’s intense but I really had fun doing it. I’ve been in the music industry for 13 years now, and my career has been growing gradually. Having to take those years of work and compact them into a month of shooting the show was insane!

You’re one of the mentors, but have you learnt something new as an artist?

I realised the amount of information we absorb and use as artists, it’s a lot more detailed than anyone could ever imagine. The highlight was realising how much I know and still have to learn. As mentors we needed to be amazing in all areas of the music business, and even those that we weren’t so sure about, we had to go research. I had times where I called Oskido (Kalawa Jazmee Records founder/DJ Oscar) to help me.

Can you give an example of when you called Oskido for assistance?

There was an episode where we needed to do a remix of a song with a choir. I don’t have experience of workig with a choir and so I called him up for advice. We lost that challenge because was that was hectic for me. 

What have been the ups and downs in the 13 years you’ve been in the industry?

The biggest challenge for me, which I think is addressed on Vodacom NXT LVL, is that there’s no specific place you can go to as an artist for information about the music industry. You have to piece everything together yourself.  There’s no clear path for success in music. The music business evolves so much that things that may have worked for an artist 10 years ago aren’t viable now, and so you have to research everything. The highlight is my contribution in the female DJ space – being part of the growth of women DJs via my own career and through my DJ school Fuse Academy. When I started there weren’t many of us but now it’s become a norm to see women in that space.

Do you feel the music industry nurtures other genres of music, seeing that hip hop is the dominant genre currently?

Hip hop is growing but it’s not there yet in terms of dominating. South Africans love dance music and I feel that the hip hop guys that are doing great are those who borrow from dance music and fuse it with theirs. Hip hop is exciting and there’s a buzz around it right now; it’s a new and growing thing and we’re embracing it. House music, on the other hand, has been around longer and just because it isn’t as celebrated doesn’t mean it hasn’t been around. House is the foundation; you see the likes of Babes Wodumo doing well, which means there’s still a big space for it.

How is your online watch store, Era by DJ Zinhle doing?

We are definitely growing and are bigger than before. The brand is consistent and we are excited about the upcoming projects we’ll be launching soon. Next year we celebrate five years!

December is approaching, can we expect a track from you after Colours ft Tamara Dey?  

I don’t know. Doing Vodacom NXT LVL got me excited about doing music, so you never know. I’m speaking to Oskido and we are putting things together but it won’t be for December.

What’s next for you in the near future?

I shot a show to air on one of the SABC channels that will launch in December.  I’m anchoring it and it’s also based on social issues around women. It’s an exciting feature of what women are going through in South Africa and trying to find solutions for them. 

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