It has been hard work for Africa’s number one female DJ, DJ Zinhle, to navigate a world in which Covid-19 exists as a South African, a performer and a mom.
Speaking to The Citizen, Zinhle shared her fears about striking the perfect balance between keeping her career going and earning an income while protecting her daughter, Kairo Forbes, from the coronavirus.
“I’m super paranoid, I won’t even lie. I’m super scared and my worst fear is just giving it to my child who has been in the house the whole time, she has not gone anywhere. As much as we’ve tried to inform her about what’s going on, she’s a kid, she doesn’t really understand what’s going on,” said Zinhle.
“My worst fear as a mom is just giving it to her. That’s why literally, I’m back at level five in my house. There’s hardly any movements. Packages get left in the garage and then sanitised. I’m super paranoid. If someone has to come to my house, they have to wear an overall, shoe covers, a mask… we sanitise the hell out of them,” she added.
The interview happened just moments after the father of her child, rapper Kiernan ‘AKA’ Forbes announced his own diagnosis after testing positive for Covid-19. In the same week that his daughter celebrated her 5th birthday at her mother’s home.
Though she did not comment on AKA’s announcement, she stated: “It’s really a scary time for me because we don’t know where this thing is or how it could get to us so my job really is to just protect my child and that’s hard.”
Despite her fears, life has somewhat carried on and so Zinhle has had to find new, safe ways of continuing to do what she does best – entertaining the masses.
“It’s been crazy. It’s been different, totally different. It’s been slow… And you just have to find new ways of staying on top of your game, of staying relevant and earning and income because literally everything is just shutdown.”
Inspired by fellow DJ’s Shimza and DJ pH, founders of the Lockdown House Party series of DJ sets which are streamed both online and broadcast on television, DJ Zinhle will be taking her own online stream series national thanks to a new partnership with MTV.
“This idea definitely is born from the lockdown. We came up with the PJ Party because everyone is at home so it just makes sense to host a PJ party,” said Zinhle.
“The idea started as something I was doing at home and I won’t even lie, I was hoping a broadcaster would take the idea and make it something bigger than me so that other people could be part of it easily and that’s exactly what MTV did for me.”
This has allowed her to feature more people and give them a chance to not only keep working but introduce themselves to a wider audience.
“We had shows all the time, for the past 16 years I’ve just been going to show after show and now suddenly there’s just nothing. We’ve had to find new ways of connecting with the audience. It has just been a crazy time. No one expected this.”
Unlike most other live stream DJ shows, Zinhle’s will only feature an all-female line up.
“I think it’s just a natural thing for me to always plug in female DJs. It’s become part of my brand. It’s also just part of who I am because I’m very passionate about female empowerment and I feel like I work better and easier with women.”
Over the years, Zinhle says she has come into contact with many a female DJ and has made it a point to always keep them top of mind when she is presented with an opportunity.
An amused Zinhle recalled how long-time friend and fellow DJ, Oskido, expressed his wish to feature on the show before saying she reminded him that no boys are allowed.
Zinhle said she is hoping to inspire others to become creative: “It doesn’t necessarily have to look like the PJ Party, there’s so many ideas right now that are out there. Just reinvent yourself. I think that’s the really big lesson; evolve and find new ways of connecting with the audience.”
Considering the fact that show will be streamed live from her home, where she and her family have been cooped up since the lockdown began, we asked Zinhle how important a well decorated space is for those who are lucky enough to dictate where and how they spend the lockdown period.
According to Zinhle, what makes well-decorated space is subjective and refused to pin-point any one thing that makes a well-decorated space.
What she did comment on, however, is what she loves which is functional spaces. The DJ excitedly started that she will take functionality over aesthetic any day.
“You know, I really feel like ‘just be neat, just be tidy, just be clean,’ it doesn’t have to be well-decorated designer things.”
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“What really helps me out is to just look for references online. The information online is everything.”
DJ Zinhle’s PJ Party makes its TV debut on Saturday, 11 July between 6pm and 8pm and will air every Saturday thereafter on MTV Base (DStv channel 322).