SPINNING FOR CHRIST. DJs are synonymous with night clubs, but not for Twongex who only plays gospel music, writes Anna Katusiime.
Who is DJ Twonjex?
Twonjex is a guy married to one woman, has one child and another on the way, has both parents and the last born of five.
When did you decide to become a gospel DJ?
I started deejaying in 2000 but I went professional in 2005.
What’s the motivation behind what you do?
When I left campus, I became a youth minister. I realised that the only way to draw people to church was to use music.
Was it your childhood dream to become a DJ?
I did not have much of a dream. My dad told me to dream big, dream wide and keep dreaming, so that is what I did. At one point I wanted to become a computer scientist when my dad showed up with a computer. I even dreamt of becoming an astro engineer but me and physics were not compatible.
How did your father, a reverend, take it that you wanted to be a DJ? Does he support you?
My dad has always been supportive. He did not understand it but was supportive. A while back, he bought me equipment when mine was stolen.
Do you ever get strange looks from fellow Christians about your dreadlocks?
Long time ago I used to have issues. In 2005, I went to a cathedral in Kabale. There was a ministry with my dad and I was almost chased out of church because they could not expect a pastor’s kid with such a hairstyle. But today, people are more receptive.
How do gauge the gospel industry from when you began and now?
The industry has developed. Five or six years ago, I was doing gigs for almost no money. But it is understandable because you have to develop your talent first and when you are at a higher level, people appreciate it and you will get paid. Besides, good musicians coming out. The quality has also improved. The sound is clearer and better.
You have done shows on Pablo Live and now you are on Power FM and recently on NTV, what has made you soar?
Discipline and focus. There was a time I went for events and there was nothing much. My dad encouraged me not to give up and keep the faith. Being a Christian, you are a lot more focused. So you just give it time.
Any highlights as a DJ?
I can’t forget when I met Papa San in 2006 at Makerere University Sports Grounds. I also had a one on one with Kirk Franklin when he performed here. I have also been Power FM’s Phatfest DJ for three years.
There are a few gospel DJs, why is it so?
Being a DJ is expensive. You need a laptop, storage back up and DJ equipment. However, today the prices of the equipment have reduced and, as a result, there are more DJs in the country. Back then, equipment used to cost Shs5m but today you can get machines at about Shs3m. But the biggest reason there are a few gospel DJs is that there are more opportunities in the secular world.
How does your family take it that you are a DJ?
My wife has been very supportive. She has been a very big pillar in my life. There was a time she used to give me money to come to town or fuel the car when I went to perform free of charge at events.
Where do you see yourself in the next five to 10 years?
I want come up with a new brand, a management company. I should look like an artiste, command the stage and have a live band. I want to be centered in Uganda only. I can’t go to Kenya and Nigeria because there are many deejays, Maybe South Africa. I also mentor people and I recently had a one on one with a certain guy called DJ Peruz to encourage him.
How is your preparation process before doing a gig?
I go early, I keep time. I have practice sessions before the gig. I make sure I know where the music is on my laptop so that I’m not caught off guard. I widen my search engine so that it can be able to recognise the song much a faster. I also go through the crowds and ask them what music I should play. I also have “crunch time” to clear my mind. When you do, you think much faster.
Do you sometimes wake up and you do not want to listen to music?
I have never got to that point. You just need to know what you want to listen to. For example in the mornings, I listen to soulful music, but when I’m in really a hyper mood, I listen to loud music.
Do you ever feel like you have heard enough music or you can listen to music all day and all night?
I do not get tired. My dad used to play music so we were able to listen to music all the time because we did not have a TV when we were growing up.
What is your opinion about gospel DJs that play secular music?
Playing secular music can get you to compromise your standard as a Christian. People do not take you seriously because you are wavering between two opinions. You either play gospel or everything else. Music is engulfing, so I do not have any clue about playing secular music. I can’t play it because I have been engulfed in my music.