The sweet sounds of DJ Candii
Radio just got sweeter courtesy of Chandre’a Gabrielle Pretorius, affectionately known as DJ Candii.
Practice, practice and more practice is key, from my links and the delivery of them.”
The new voice of Gauteng radio station YFM’s Hot99 Dance show is treating radio listeners to a sugar rush of the latest commercial House Music tunes.
It hasn’t taken much for her petite feet to get cosy in the rather big shoes left by former presenter and respected DJ/Producer, Just Mo.
We caught up with the sassy DJ Candii and in her on-air signature presentation style peppered with Afrikaans and slang, she chats with us about making her show skit, bringing a bit of the street on air and how she’s made moves in the radio industry.
Your first break in the radio industry was at EldosFM (community radio station in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg) as a presenter. How did this gig come about?
DJ Candii: In my hood, Eldos, everyone knows everyone and my ou boetie (older brother) is braze (friends) with two of the five people who gave life to the idea and implementation of the radio station.
Back then it was known as Radio Eldos and bra (dude) you should have seen how baar (happy) I was when the studio first opened!
It was during the sgela (school holidays) and I was just hanging around, very intrigued and proud that we finally had something we could call our own.
At the time there was a lack of female presenters and one day Lorreal (then EldosFm Programme Manager and now Station Manager) wysed (asked) me if I wanted to be on air.
I was rather shy back then but there was a little voice that said “yeah, why not??”
To my surprise I was eintlik (actually) really good at it.
So no, there was no audition, radio chose me!
Every year thousands of aspiring presenters apply to enter the Y Academy (YFM’s in-house training programme). What gave you the courage and the confidence to give it a shot?
DJ Candii: Eintlik (actually) the Y Academy is a blessing.
I was working full time as a creditor’s clerk.
The money was proper but my heart wasn’t in it and thanks to EldosFM, I knew that radio was my thing.
It was my good friend, Thato Bali (then my producer and co-host at EldosFm) who also encouraged me to apply for the Y Academy.
I decided to give it a shot because the worst thing that could have happened was for me not to get the internship.
When you became one of the “chosen few” to get into YFM what are some of the adjustments you had to make in order to make this step up from a community station like Eldos FM to a commercial radio station such as YFM?
DJ Candii: I didn’t make any adjustments; the basics such as mic technique, controlling the desk, stay the same.
I however had to grow a bit more as a person and remain true to the type of person I am.
I remember when I first began at the Y Academy, I was told that I needed to be loud, but that wasn’t who I was and I just stayed real, to myself.
How did you then move on to become the voice of Hot99 Dance, one of SA radio’s hottest dance music shows!?
DJ Candii: Steve Martin says “Be so good they can’t ignore you”.
This is one quote that I live by.
I never planned to be the voice of the Hot99 Dance show, it just happened.
I kept my head down, worked smart, hustled harder and left the rest in God’s hands.
Tshepo Pule (YFM programme manager) saw my work ethic and believed in my God given talent and I was called in for an interview.
When he offered me the contract, I nearly died!
On a daily I listen to hundreds of songs, be it submissions or on the net and trust me it has been extremely difficult to select only nine songs…”
A lot of listeners presume that radio is simply a matter of walking into the studio, switching on the mic and talking. What are some of the things that go into producing and maintaining a good show?
DJ Candii: Eyoh, you have no idea how much gang span (a lot of work) I put into my show.
While driving, I do some vocal exercises and often play some mazi (music) out loud and I’ll slaat (hit) a link (talk between music).
Practice, practice and more practice is key, from my links and the delivery of them. They have to be quick, punchy, to the point and yet you still have to sound like you’re having fun too.
How do you prepare for each Hot99 Dance show?
DJ Candii: On a daily I listen to hundreds of songs, be it submissions or on the net and trust me it has been extremely difficult to select only nine songs, because there is gang ( lots of) mazi that is tops (dope)
I often sit for hours contemplating which track should be on the Hot99 playlist.
There is gang pressure as I am now seen as a voice and first lady of House Music and I have to always be on my A game.
I need to know which tracks make the parties skit (lit), what producers are up to and when they plan on releasing.
So my research is done by me being in the street, attending gang parties to observe how people react to certain songs and if I hear a hot tune that a DJ just dropped, I have to dalla (do) like Thuli Madonsela and slaat (hit) an investigation regarding that tune.
I also have to constantly be on the net, as it’s the only way for me to know what’s happening with international dance mazi.
Just Mo is a don in SA radio. How has it been being mentored by him at the Y Academy and in your career?
DJ Candii: Moleke Sekukuni aka Moses aka Just Mo aka my Father [laughs.]
Ahh man he has become more than a mentor to me and I have so much love and respect for him
Despite many people assuming that I took his job, we are actually really good friends.
I know many people who would die to be in the position that I am in and it’s been an absolute honour and I am truly grateful for having him as a mentor.
He is solid as a rock and I value all the advice he has given me thus far.
What are some of the unique lessons he has taught you about the profession and life in general?
DJ Candii: Tjo (wow) there are gang lessons he has taught me, waar begin ek (where do I begin).
Well for one, he taught me to remain true to who I am, never let the fame get to you, always remain humble, keep working smart for what you want and don’t let anyone wys you that you can’t dalla (do) it.
I have so much love for House (Dance) Music and just like South Africa, it’s so diverse and so mooi (beautiful).”
A lot of radio presenters feel the pressure to present in a certain style (usually American) yet you have maintained your own unique presentation style (lots of Afrikaans and slang). How did you develop this style?
DJ Candii: In my opinion the secret to being a dope on-air personality is to be comfortable with who you are as a person.
This will be easily translated over the airwaves and the listener can sense when you aren’t being genuine.
Secondly one has to be relatable.
Radio is a very competitive industry and there is always someone who is more than ready and willing to take your place.
So you need to be different and stand out from the rest, I looked around and I realised that there aren’t any on air coloured people who make use of slang and Afrikaans.
This is engraved in my culture and I decided to embrace it and began implementing it into my links.
I must admit it sounds hella fresh and this has also influenced my daily speech and I’ll sometimes gooi (throw) in a bit of slang, even at the work place.
Talking of unique styles, how did your “It’s 2 sugar” slogan come about?
DJ Candii: I wish I could take the credit for this slogan, but I can’t
I was just minding my own business as per usual when one of my rather cray cray (crazy) colleagues kept on saying “It’s too sugar”
Upon investigation, it turned out that on the streets when something is too sugar its “really hot or too nice”.
I then decided to bring a bit of the street on air and took each day as it came and eventually I was accepted for who I was.
What made you choose House Music instead of say Hip Hop or some other genre?
DJ Candii: I know it might sound pap (lame) but I didn’t choose House Music, it chose me!
I have so much love for House (Dance) Music and just like South Africa, it’s so diverse and so mooi (beautiful).
It could be an instrumental only (like Rabs Vhafuwi and Mizz’ Happy People), or it could be a love song like Liquid Deep’s Fairytale, or about your hood like Vetkuk vs. Mahoota feat. Dr Malinga’s Via Orlando, or even your life like Ayo’s Life is Real.
Don’t get me wrong I love all the other genres of mazi (music) but I doubt that I’ll ever mix Hip Hop because most of the time its lyrical content is very degrading towards women.
And huh uh, relaxa I’m not a feminist, I’m just a bushie medie (coloured girl) who nxas’ (loves) Housemazi.
…there aren’t many females who are passionate and serious about pursuing a career as a mix DJ.”
What are the key things you learnt about DJing when you were enrolled at DJ Zinhle’s FUSE Academy?
DJ Candii: I learnt the basics which includes how to setup and connect the equipment (CDJs and Mixer), how to mix using vinyl’s and lastly how to mix using the CDJs and Mixer.
I was also told a bit more about the industry and how challenging it could get.
We had two workshops where there would be a guest speaker.
These workshops where very interactive; gang q and a’s and you also received vital information with regards to your career, your expectations and the industry as a whole.
You graduated with a Platinum Certificate. For those who might not know about a Platinum Certificate, what exactly is it?
DJ Candii: The FUSE academy offers a three month course and once you’ve learnt how to mix, you have to showcase your talent in front of a panel of judges and you can also invite your friends and family to attend.
So basically it’s like your first gig.
You can graduate with a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze certificate.
A platinum certificate is the highest award you can receive.
This simply means your mixing was on point, you stuck to the instructions such as your mix had to be about five or seven minutes long and that the judges and crowd loved it.
FUSE Academy is geared towards grooming female DJing talent. As a beneficiary of the Academy in what ways are you also giving back and ensuring that the female DJs who came after you are also being mentored?
DJ Candii: Eisan, this is a tough one.
I’ll start off by saying that there aren’t many females who are passionate and serious about pursuing a career as a mix DJ.
Unfortunately I don’t have my own equipment as yet, so I am unable to teach the few interested females,
I do however advise them not to pla the ouens (bother the guys) who are DJs, but rather go to FUSE Academy or the Soul Candi Institute.
I believe that it’s the best way to kick start your career.
I’m more than willing to help any female who really wants to become a mix DJ and I reply to all the messages I receive on any of my social media pages.
The DJing industry is male dominated. What are some of the unique challenges female DJs face?
DJ Candii: Dit breek my hart maar (it breaks my heart but) there is hardly any respect for female DJs.
There were gang times when I was given a specific set time and when it was time for me to rock and take over from a male DJ he would be so stubborn and disrespectful telling me “but I just jumped on, give me another half an hour”.
It becomes a completely different story once he hears that you can actually mix and then it’s “please can I have a picture with you”.
Most of the time your opinion on music and the industry does not count because “wat ken sy van house musiek” (what does she know about house music).
It’s a constant fight for you as a female DJ to prove yourself – that you are just as good on decks (and sometimes even better) than a male DJ.
That’s why I always put in that practice and master my craft, it’s the only way that they’ll respect and take you seriously.
How have you faced and overcome these challenges at a personal level?
DJ Candii: This is a very cut throat industry and you learn to roll with the punches, but it only makes you stronger.
In a very short period I had to learn to stand my ground.
Plus there are gang dodgy promoters and trust me, I had to wys them, that I’m not dom (dumb), my mama didn’t raise no fool.
What are your long term plans in radio and DJing?
DJ Candii: God willingly I plan to be in the industry for many more years.
I’ll forever be grateful to YFM for this amazing platform, but eventually I would love to go on and be part of one of the national radio stations and host my own show (not necessarily a Dance show),
I would also love to be part of a panel of judges for a DJ competition, but ultimately I plan on opening a few businesses and building an empire.
Eldos has gained a not-so-nice reputation for vices such as drugs and gangsterism. How did you manage to stay on the straight and narrow?
DJ Candii: Yeah, my hood doesn’t have the best reputation and I can only give thanks to God for blessing me with a hella strict tannie (mother).
Tot vandag (even today) will wys (tell) me “madam, you aren’t old enough for me to bend you over my lap!”
Also living and seeing what the physical and mental effects that substances such as drugs and alcohol have on the individual, their family members and the community as a whole is probably what scares me the most.
I do however think I’ll make for a great gangster *huh* (Rick Ross voice) laughs.
Your male fans will be eager to know if there is a mense in your life or do they still stand a chance of “sweeping you off your feet”!?
DJ Candii: Nope, I don’t have a meneer (mister) and before my male fans get too excited, at the moment I’m not looking
I’m enjoying the single life and my focus is on my career and building an empire.
WITH DJ CANDII