Afro fest is always a fun time to look up to for many Africans to look up to in London.
This year experienced even greater turnout – mostly credited to the growth of afrobeat on the world stage and also because of London’s favourite Disk Jockey – DJ Xtanzer.
Stanley Iwuji aka Dee Jay Xtanzer is a Nigerian-born Disk Jockey based in London who over the last 10 years since moving to UK has become an A-lister in the craft. The Imo born entertainer takes a look at his inception, the present and why he has only started.
How did it all start for you?
It all started when I was a kid, from as early as I can remember music has always played a major role in my life. Coming to the UK allowed me to focus, as I had experimented with different instruments, and tried my hand at acting and modelling.
However I found my true calling when I started Djing. At one time a friend of mine was always talking about doing it, but we didn’t have the equipment.
One day we decided to get serious, so we bought the equipment and started practicing and trying to get gigs wherever possible.
And that was it. I never looked back.
What were your early passions before you decided to look into Djing?
I’ve always been a creative person; I really enjoyed art and performance. But coming from a Nigerian background my main focus was getting an education.
What is it that you love about being a Dj?
I love music. I’ve always had an ear for music. I’m a pretty humble person with many things, but one of the things I pride myself with aside from my knowledge and commitment to great sound, is my ability to listen to a track that nobody has heard before, and be able to tell if it will be a hit or not.
How do you prepare your sets?
For every gig I got, or will get in the future, you can bet your bottom dollar that prior to the gig, I will prepare as much as possible to make sure that event goes exactly how I want it and how my client wants it, and that I will give it my absolute all though out the entire duration of the event. I’m always willing to learn new things, and always want to find out ways I can improve my performance, for my audience’s maximum enjoyment.
What’s that one thing you have learnt since you started out as a DJ?
Your brand and following matters. Not as much as your actual talent, obviously, but it’s important to show that you have fans on Twitter, Instagram, and Sound Cloud. It’s even more important to get those people to come out and see you do a set in a club, or to play/share your mixtapes, because cultivating fans is what takes your career farther. When you’re building your brand, you have to travel to expand and get to know more people — but it’s not free. Promoters will usually take care of your hotel room and meals, but you have to pay for your own flights and other travel expenses. Some of my DJ friends travel two weeks out of each month, which can be pretty exhausting.
What is something that bugs you about the DJ scene?
People make a lot of noise about what type of equipment you’re using. You’re not playing to the DJs; you’re playing to the people. The people don’t care what you use. I think as long as the DJ is not on stage playing a pre-mixed playlist, what they’re using shouldn’t matter as much.
There are certain intangibles when it comes to DJing that you must have. You have to be able to read a crowd, control a crowd, and play the right songs at the right moment. No matter what equipment you use, if you can’t do these things you will not be an effective DJ. However, if you can do these things, they could care less whether you’re using Technic 1200s or a small controller. I think people just want a DJ who ensures that they have a good time.
What single night out has been the most memorable for you?
One of the most memorable nights was my recent trip to Portugal. I was hired for private function and it was amazing. It was an amazing experience. The reception I received as a Dj was out of this world. The atmosphere was electric, all my planning and preparation went well. I left feeling like it was ‘mission accomplished’
What is one mistake you see a lot of up and coming DJ’s making?
Not paying his or her due, everyone has to start from somewhere. I’m shocked at what I see sometimes from new/young Dj’s. You cannot be commanding a high fee just because you may have bought really high-end equipment yet you have not practiced or do not have the experience needed to give your crown the experience they expect.
What advice would you give to aspiring DJ’s?
Finding a good mentor is way more important than having formal training.
Keep Practicing and listening and keeping up with current trends, constantly strive to refine and add to your skillset.
How big is the Nigeria following in the UK Scene? What’s the latest music trending in UK?
I love the UK, because it doesn’t matter where you come from you can always find your place. The Nigerian following in the UK as always been prevalent, but with the upraise and globalization of the afrobeat and African fashion scene has meant that there is a lot more exposure to our culture and therefore the Nigerian/African scene has seen major growth over the years.
What’s the latest music trending in UK?
For me it’s Afobeats. Artist like Davido and wizkid have played a major role in exposing the genre across borders. It’s amazing walking into a club in the west end, hearing afrobeats being played and seeing people from all walks of life jump up and dance.
Does your presence in UK afford you to play in other countries?
Yes, the UK is a hub of opportunities. But you have to work at it. Just like with anything you want to achieve.
What is one sub-genre you think doesn’t get the attention it deserves?
I feel like R&B has gone underground. The fact that it doesn’t dominate the radio the way it used to is a good thing in my opinion because now the music can focus on being creative rather than focusing on having hits. The artists can be free because they know that there is a huge fan base that craves R&B music, and those fans will support you whether radio plays it or not.
What is one track that never gets old for you no matter how many times you hear it?
Fela “Water no get Enemy”.
Any plan for an album? If yes who are the artistes you plan to work with?
Yes, that’s one of the projects I’m working on. There are so many artists that would love to work with- there’s so much diversity out there right now. But someone who’s peaked my interested right now is Idowest.
How do you define success?
Success to me is based on a combination of things. First and foremost success is seeing my family happy. They have everything they could want or need.
Success is building a strong foundation in my business. Where there is continuous growth, development and expansion. And at the end of the day I want to be able to pass on security to my children ie a successful business. Success is having my children grow up to own their own business, be respectable members of society and bring happiness to the people around them.
Where do you see yourself and brand in the next 5/10 years?
In 5-10 years I hope to fully establish my brand in the UK and Nigeria. I’m building a strong team around me with people who are creative and extremely hardworking. With that foundation the world is my oyster. We are looking at Mechanising, Music & Production and Events & Promotions.