Introducing Nolumyuzik: A Fearless Vinyl Collector & DJ Who Is Pushing The Boundaries of Jazz, Hip-hop & Electronic Music
In a world where the growth of digital technology has taken over and dominated the music scene, including the format and mediums DJs use to collect and play their music. It has become very rare to find DJs that still prefer the classic analogue vinyl format. This is more the case with the women spinners who have begun to make waves within the underground music scene. Nolumyuzik is part of this rare breed of vinyl collectors and DJs and we caught up with her to get to know more about who she is and what inspired and drew her towards being a vinyl collector and spinner.
Let’s start off by getting to know you first as a person and what you do?
My birth name is Noluthando Msibi. I am a cool, calm and collected music enthusiast. Outside of music I am a project management associate at an insurance company, within the innovation department, where we embed innovation into the organization. This involves not just technological innovations but how people or companies can make incremental changes in their lives and work; in order to help them become more efficient, relevant or disruptive to current ways of living.
Take us into the life of Nolumyuzik; you’re set up at home and your daily routines?
I live with my mom at home, but I unfortunately don’t get to spend much time with her as I often come back home late from work. My day to day is very similar as I don’t do much at home after work except to eat, bath and go to bed. I don’t even watch TV. So, during the week my job takes up most of my time, and then on weekends I’m spending time with my boyfriend or busy with music, where I’m either attending events, listening to music, doing track selection or doing guest mixes.
What other things do you do or passions do you have besides DJing and music?
I’m really passionate about my work as a project manager. It’s a very cool job. It’s been a passion since I was introduced to it 7 years ago. My love for it just grew and it linked into the innovation side of things that I now do for a living. I also like travelling but because of my day job and my DJ gigs I end up having to cancel most of my planned outings. But I want to travel more in future.
Do you see a link in what you do in your day job with your music career or do you separate the two?
Yes I do. I’m trying to get into event management, which is related to project management so I believe I can merge my two passions through organizing music events.
Tell us about what got you interested in DJing as an art or career?
I spent a lot of time attending events and seeing how DJs do their thing and through networking with them I got into it. I actually wanted to be a DJ as a career since I was in high school after I watched a film called “Juice” by Omar Epps and Tupac where Omar‘s role was of a DJ. I remember finding him so cool because he was a hip hop DJ, scratching and mixing with turntables, which I found very exciting. I was always into hip hop since then, so seeing him DJ made me feel like this is what I want to do. Unfortunately my parents said “not in our house” and refused to let me pursue it as a career back then.
How did you feel about your parents refusing to let you DJ during that time?
There was a huge push back from my parents at that time and I even sometimes thought they hated me. However, looking back now I’m actually glad they did that because it’s difficult to navigate this industry, especially if you are depending on it for income. It’s nicer to do it purely for the love and only that, whether the income comes or not.
When did you choose the route of being a strictly vinyl DJ when almost all DJs have opted for USBs or laptops as mediums to play music, and what inspired you to do so?
I officially started in April of 2018, where I played my first gig. I started learning how to DJ around February of 2018 after I bought myself a turntable and started collecting vinyl. I had a huge interest in vinyl spinning and I would follow vinyl DJs such as Brino Soul and DJ Bubbles who inspired me a lot. So after I bought my first vinyl and turn table I posted it on social media and then someone offered to teach me how to play. I wasn’t even playing it or anything and people were blown away by it and wanted to teach me how to play.
It’s amazing how you’ve made a name for yourself in such a very short space of time. How were you able to do this in such a competitive industry with so many other DJs?
I think it’s the genres that I play and the format of DJing on vinyl that catches a lot of people’s attention and they wanted to find out what I am about, which has helped a lot in getting me to where I am now. What happened is when I was collecting my vinyl I would post them on Facebook, which got me a lot of attention. So when I attended events people would ask me if I DJ and I would tell them I’m still learning. Then one of the guys that play vinyl, Mohau Billy, told me that when I’m ready start playing I must let him know.
So, when I thought I was ready I told him and he invited me to come play at his event before it started, just to warm things up. I played a hip-hop set and the owner of Kitcheners Bar came to me and said not a lot of people play hip-hop, especially on vinyl, so he wanted me to come back and play. Following that I played at a place called Vinyl Lifestyle, which is where I would always go to work on my mixing, so they decided to feature me on one of their events that consisted of female DJs. From then onwards I started receiving requests for guest mixes such as the “Deep Inspiration Show”, an international podcast hosted by Jazzman based in Germany, which really grew my brand and gave me a lot of exposure.
Do you still remember your first time behind the decks? Where was it and how did you feel during that time?
My first gig was at Kitcheners in Braamfontein and I played an opening set. Funny enough I wasn’t even on the line up. I was extremely nervous. I even felt like crying because I felt I was not ready. I was worried if I was doing the mixing properly and I obviously made a lot of mistakes. I was also worried about what people were going to say about my set, especially because it was being recorded. I got a good response from people but now listening back I think they just felt sorry for me [laughs]. I’ve really come a long way.
How did you get into the culture of vinyl collection, particular as a young woman, as vinyl collection is often largely seen as an older male habit?
I’ve always collected music, particularly hip hop, since I was in high school, but I only started collecting vinyl in January of 2018. Firstly, what got me into the culture was that I really looked up to vinyl DJs and I told myself that I also want to do what they do. Secondly, I realized that there are a lot of DJs so I asked myself what would set me apart from everyone else and I decided that playing vinyl would be my niche. The other thing I like about vinyl is that some of the music is exclusive and is not sold on digital platforms so it would only be me and a few other people who have certain songs.
We know vinyl as a very expensive format to purchase and as a DJ you have to always buy new music. How have you been able to navigate the world of vinyl collection, considering its cost?
When I started I only collected my favourites just to stay on the safe side so that if I don’t get gigs then at least I’m stuck with vinyl of music I like. Then surprisingly, I started getting gigs and now I got stressed because I couldn’t keep playing the same songs at every gig [laughs]. I also started getting booked to play at night clubs and one can’t play the underground Hip-hop I collect at night clubs, so I started acquainting myself with house music and its sub genres such as disco, nu-disco, funk and my music collection kept on growing.
Also, collecting vinyl is very addictive. You sit there and tell yourself you are not buying anymore and then you come across a nice track, and you just say “forget it I’m buying this vinyl”. That time you didn’t even budget for it [laughs]. An average vinyl costs between R240 to R1000 depending on the genre. Jazz has the most expensive vinyl and I mostly play jazz and hip hop so it’s so expensive for me at times. I don’t even look at the price anymore to avoid the stress; I just buy [laughs].
Everyone has that one thing that they over spend on and mine happens to be music. The main thing that helps me though is that I can afford it because I have good job and I don’t have a child that I would need to take care of financially.
In your time as a DJ so far, have you found that there is a stigma or difficulty around being a female vinyl collector and DJ?
Yes, it’s been difficult. Firstly, some people would doubt my abilities and say they can’t risk putting me on their line ups. Some would say “we’ll give her a try” and only after I play they would be pleasantly surprised by my abilities. It’s only then that they would start to take me seriously. Also, I would be given early slots, or promoters would not want to pay me and those kinds of things, so it’s been quite a tough journey. However, the challenges are what makes it interesting for me. There have however been many people who have been supportive and helped a lot. Someone such as Brino Soul actually gave me a vinyl the other day to welcome me into the community and gave me some advice on the life of vinyl collection and its challenges.
Do you plan on always playing on vinyl and playing hip hop and jazz for the rest of your career as a DJ or will you ever consider using other mediums and playing other genres?
I think I will start playing using CDJs as I’ve been learning how to play using them. I just don’t know when yet, but I will. I will also probably mix the two mediums and play with both vinyl and CDJs at the same time during my sets. In terms of style of music, yes I do find other genres such as deep house and deep tech very enjoyable and I do have a collection of them. Sometimes I get requested to play house or deep house music at events so I then play it to make my clients happy. So yes, I do play other genres such as house but my preference is alternative music.
Finally, what can we expect from Nolumyuzik in the near future? Any projects or ventures you want to share?
I’m currently planning a “birthday tour” for later in the year around September and October, where I’m looking to host a series of events in different provinces around the country. I plan on doing both DJing and events promotion hand in hand. I would also like to get acquainted with music licensing and curation and perhaps one day do a compilation album of some sort, to help take my brand to the next level.