/ 12 September 2013

Ms Cosmo on music, Jo’burg city and owning the decks

Ms Cosmo says music makes her want to kick off her shoes and dance like nobody is watching.
Ms Cosmo says music makes her want to kick off her shoes and dance like nobody is watching. (Supplied)

Apart from being the first and only female DJ on Channel O’s the Bassment, Ms Cosmo hosts 5FM’s Sunday night hip-hop show, The Stir-Up.

Ms Cosmo completed a BCom in finance and investment management at the University of Johannesburg. The petite DJ always wanted to be a singer, but instead – following a stint as a commercial property finance consultant – enrolled at FUSE Academy, a DJing school founded by DJ Zinhle.

"I honed my skills on vinyl before advancing to CDs, but I actually still prefer vinyl as I believe there is so much room for this art to take shape and form a culture of its own in South Africa," she said.

The former YFM presenter proclaimed her indescribable love for music, saying it makes her want to kick off her shoes and dance like nobody is watching.

"My favourite albums to date have got to be Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West, and TKZee’s Guz 2001 (TKZee Family). I love every single song on both albums."

So much has changed for you in the last year. What is the best part of being Ms Cosmo right now?
I am having so much fun with all the opportunities that are coming my way. Having a show on a national radio station is one of the most amazing experiences I have had this year. I get to engage with people and build hip-hop as a culture in South Africa. I appreciate the fact that people are starting to take me more serious than before.

Why the name Ms Cosmo?
I was hanging out with friends in Melville having a few drinks and toying around with names. I was drinking a Cosmopolitan and DJ Dimplez decided to tweet me as DJ Cosmo. DJ Vigilante retweeted him and it kinda stuck from there. I decided to run with it because I’m a cosmopolitan girl, living in a cosmopolitan city, and my favourite cocktail is a cosmopolitan. I added on the honorific "Ms" to ensure people knew I was a woman when they referred to me.

What have been some of your career highlights?
Joining 5FM and opening for rappers Kanye West and 2 Chainz during their South African concerts. Opening for one of my favourite rappers, Kanye West, was one of the best experiences of my life. The team at 5FM is pushing me and are trying to make me the best radio personality I can be. Also, being part of Channel O helps me to reach audiences on the rest of the continent.

What is it like working in a male-dominated field?
It is hard. I have to prove I am just as good as the boys. It gets tiring to constantly hear "you are a great DJ for a girl". I don’t want to be belittled as a woman. I want to be respected as much as the guys are. The male DJs are very protective of their clubs but they are starting to open up to the women on the decks.

You put on a full performance when you’re on stage. Why is that?
I go the extra mile to bring a great live element to my performance to be different and to keep the audience thrilled. I don’t play my own music so I need to produce an amazing set otherwise organisers could get cheaper DJs that will play the same music I do. I also think of different ways to build myself and grow my skills so that I can be chosen, despite my gender.

Who are your some of your favourite DJs?
Naked DJ and DJ SPHEctacula because they are creative when they are on the decks at an event. I enjoy their set every time. I also enjoy DJ Shinza who creates an amazing sound, and then there is Black Coffee and Black Motion as well.

You have a weekly show on a national radio station. That is quite something.
I have always wanted to be on radio so being on a national platform is amazing. I am having so much fun. 5FM took a chance on me and they are grooming me. For me it is about longevity. I would like to evolve. The fact that I am on radio and speaking about my passion makes it really easy.

What in your opinion is wrong with the South African entertainment industry right now?
We aren’t receiving enough positive reports from the media as entertainers. I would love for there to be fewer reports of failures. The media should build us up and celebrate our talents. Home support is very important.

What is the best part of our entertainment industry?
We are really starting to boom. People are noticing us. Ten years ago the industry was run by the big record companies, but now everyone wants to own their brand and material. We are pushing the limits a little further so that we are recognised abroad.

What are you currently reading and what was the last book you read?
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. It looks at the factors that contribute to high levels of success. I have also recently read Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce, and Culture by Taylor Clark. I love reading about stories of success and triumph.

What music are you currently listening to?
I listen to a lot of radio but in terms of music, I am listening to DJ Drama, Rick Ross, Khuli Chana, JR and Teargas.

When you want to escape Jo’burg, what city do you like visiting?
I don’t have time to do that but when I do take a break I love visiting New York City at least once a year. It’s an inspiring city.

Which part of Jo'burg do you like?
I have lived in Sandton all my life, so it probably is one of my favourite areas but Maboneng Precinct is also becoming a favourite. I like its natural feel and the recent rejuvenation.

Listen to The Stir-Up on 5FM every Sunday from 10pm – 1am.