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Q&A with DJ VAVA

VAVA playingBy David Mann

This past Friday, DJ Va-Va played a set at The Monastery with fellow Cape Town DJs Pixel Pop and Half Life.

After a heavy set, Activate caught up with Va-Va to speak about everything from The National Arts Festival and social media to high school nicknames and Electronic Dance Music.

So how’re you finding Grahamstown so far?
Ja it’s been great, we got here this afternoon, chilled a little and headed straight to Monastery. Grahamstown’s always cool during festival.

So you’ve been here for fest before?
Last year I played at Monastery during the festival and I had such a great time, I thought I just had to come back this year and this time round I wanted to get in touch with some other young and upcoming DJs from Cape Town so I decided to get in touch with Pixel Pop and Half Life so they could join me for the trip.

And the tour’s been going well?
Ja we’ve been in PE for the last week, we played at Havanas a few times, jammed some sort of improve stuff at PE Street Festival.

We got in touch with Miki San and he sort of freestyled, I jammed some Deep House, kinda like what I was doing earlier on, some more garage stuff too, you know man, just freestyling. It makes you sweat though.

That’s what a Friday night in Grahamstown will do to you, how have you found this crowd this time round?
Ah dude that’s what I’m saying, PE was a bit, like…I was scared to drop the heavier stuff that I usually drop, but here the crowd was just going with what I really enjoy and just has a better appreciation or understanding of underground dance music. Ja, I just dig this venue, dig the vibe, the wood floor, I’ve just had such a good time, it’s a pity I have to leave tomorrow morning.

Okay so let’s hear a bit about Va-Va, where did it all start for you?
DJing got started for me in Cape Town really. Doing stuff like house parties using my dad’s speakers, using a really basic set up and from there it moved on, I went to PE, I went to school there for a bit and at the time, I didn’t have my alias as Va Va yet and that’s actually where I got it. For those of you that don’t know, I’m Greek and I have a really long surname that starts with the letters V A V A, so ja, guys at school started calling me shit like vava voom and you know, it kinda just stuck. I studied at the Soul Candy Institute of Music in Cape Town then got into the gigging scene, playing at places like Assembly and Fiction, made some cool connections and started doing what I do now.

I know that your radio show with Das Kapital has done quite a bit for you too, tell us a little about that.
Oh ja, I met Kyle through that whole scene at Assembly and Fiction and at the time it was just him on UCT Radio doing his thing. I went through and hung out in studio with him, played some mixes for the show too, we had the same taste in music, we had a good flow between us on air and so he asked me to co-host with him. We got offered a spot on Assembly radio now so we thought, to build a better connection with the brand of Assembly. I really enjoy going on air with them, there’s no ads, none of that bullshit, we’ve got free reign to play the music that we want to play and just talk about what we want to talk about.

Anyway, on the topic of internet presence, I know you’re very active on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, how important do you think it is to utilise those kinds of platforms for your career?
I feel you’ve got to have an internet persona and identity, there are those guys who don’t really give a fuck, but it’s cool for fans and people who like your stuff too to keep updated and see when you have shows and stuff happening so it definitely works. It’s nice to see support and keep in touch with your fans, being active, being out there on Facebook and Twitter, people go with your vibe and if you’re willing to put in the effort you’ll see your fan base growing. I personally don’t care whether I have five followers on Twitter or 5000, but I can see how it’s important, definitely.

I must say, that out of all of the artists I’ve interviewed and especially considering your position as an artist and a DJ, you’re one of the most humble guys I’ve spoken too. Do you feel it’s important to stay humble as an artist or do you think that amping up the persona is more important?
Wow thanks, well I definitely think I’m a people person you know, interacting like this is great. Don’t pretend you’re too busy, you always have time for people I think, don’t let your head get too big. It’s so great as an electronic artist to be able to meet these up and comers and new names in electronic music and I wouldn’t be able to meet them and work with them if I didn’t make time for them so ja, maintain a persona, but stay true to yourself and don’t get a big head and you’ll do great.

Any plans to bring out some new tracks that you’ve produced anytime soon? As a producer you sort of get writers block, it’s real. So I have produced quite a bit, but I’m sort of a bit shy to release them right now. It’s bad, but finishing songs is really hard man *laughing* I always start a bunch of songs and never finish them. It was really funny actually, on the drive up, myself Pixel Pop and Half Life were listening to some old shit that we had each made like way back like three, four years ago and it was cool to see how far I’ve come in terms of music.

Artists you’d love to work with or collaborate with in the near future?
Basically the guys at Do Work records, they’re my family. There are tons of artists I’d love to work with, all so talented, but there are too many to mention. There’s also too many douchebags in the scene *laughs*

What’s your opinion on the current scene in SA, I mean with electronic music and EDM-
Woah, woah I have a big thing against that term of EDM, I’m sorry I just-

Go for it.
Okay so EDM, spell it out: Electronic Dance Music, everything that most DJs would play is electronic dance music, whether it be Deep House, Electro, Progressive House, Trap, it’s all EDM. It’s made on a computer, it’s produced electronically and you dance to it. People get pretentious about it and use it to describe things like only Deep House and Trap being EDM, but for me, EDM is everything, everything is electronic dance music *Looks over my shoulder* Dude your friend is tripping, I think we should go help her.


You can check out VAVA’s Soundcloud here.

You can also give him a like here.

And follow him here.