Virtual spinmaster: Despite the challenges that came with Covid-19, DJ Billy used the opportunity to promote Uganda’s music worldwide through his Strictly Ugandan session. Isaac Ssejjombwe had a chat with him.
- Who is DJ Billy?
My real name is Godwin Byaruhanga, a self-motivated, enthusiastic and positive person. I am based in the UK with a live weekly online show dubbed Strictly Ugandan that streams every Thursday from 11pm. I love music and entertaining people. For me deejaying is more like a hobby that pays.
- How did all this start?
I didn’t go to a specific school to learn how to deejay, I used to watch my friends and later practise in my room at university, I had a computer with the deejaying software and my neighbours thought I had a disco, hahaha! I also used to practice with my friends Herbert at S&S, Martin and Collin of Dellmark Sounds, then later landed my first deejaying job at S&S bar and Restaurant in Nkumba-Entebbe.
Initially my dad wasn’t so keen on me deejaying but when I joined radio, he used to listen to the shows and that made me happy, especially when he sent in requests and asked for mixes and also my sisters have been so supportive.
- With Covid-19, so many businesses were affected. How sustainable is your virtual DJ club night?
DJ Billy Virtual Club Night was supposed to be a one-off event during the first lockdown but people received it well, enjoyed and wanted us to continue. I actually want to thank DJ Shotz and DJ Johnie Kiseka for entertaining people every weekend without any pay and all the other DJs that we have hosted on virtual club night. We managed to sustain virtual club night from people’s donations and great financial support. Many people have used the platform to network, make new friends from different parts of the world, up and close with Ugandan celebrities, it is more than just a club night. It is a global family to those who attend. We have since hosted a number of Ugandan artistes, including Naira Ali, Azawi, Kabatesi Patra,Winnie Nwagi, Terra Watts, Angella Katatumba, Byaxy, Selector Jay, Deejay Cisse, Buka Chimey, Mr Eezzy, Mudra, Karol Kasita, Pallaso and Naava Grey among others.
- How has this virtual club night helped the industry and how has it changed the face of clubbing during lockdown?
DJ Billy Virtual Club Night has hosted a number of international artists and DJs from around the world. We have managed to keep people entertained in the comfort of their living room/bedroom/workplaces/cars. It has changed the face of clubbing because there is no transport cost for a club night, there is networking online, there is an upclose contact with Uganda’s top celebrities that we host and great audience interaction in chatrooms. The show also involves some charity work supporting Children of Imprisoned Mothers through Smile African Child.
- What lessons have you learnt from the Covid-19 period?
One of the things I have learned is that as artistes and Djs, we need to be creative and adapt to change. There is a lot of opportunities out there, we need to have an open mind and be willing to learn and continue pursuing our dreams. I would also encourage DJs to get extra side jobs and not rely on deejaying as their main source of income basing on what happened last year and continues happening this year.
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