947 Drive Time host and producer Thato Sikwane, known as DJ Fresh, talks lockdown, withdrawal, family, loving his fans, virtual parties and learning to home school his kids.
How has lockdown been for you as someone who works with crowds?
I didn’t realise I needed to take a break until we were all forced to stay home and indoors. The first few weeks I used to reboot, rest and just focus on my mental health. The withdrawals have kicked in hard now.
Playing a set-in front of a live audience is something I have never taken for granted and times like these make you appreciate every single person that has been to an event you were DJing at. I miss physically seeing people get lost in the music…
Do you think there has been a visible impact on radio hosts and DJs?
Radio people, thank goodness, are part of essential support services. If you survived the SA Radio March Madness shuffle, then you should generally be OK, despite not being able to augment income with gigs.
I am sad for those that did not survive the shuffle, because not only have you lost a radio gig, you are also less likely to find another job.
What measures have you implemented to keep safe and sanitary?
It was hard to adjust in Level 5; because we were all adjusting and learning about the virus. I was home with my family but still separated for their safety but have eased down as I don’t interact with people and monitor my health.
I have always been a fist bumper and hugger and having sanitiser and wet wipes have always been a part of my life. It’s just the mask that’s a major adjustment for me now.
Are you able to work remotely in your field and is there technology that has changed or needed to be adjusted?
The vast growth in technology has allowed us to do anything really, radio and music sets. My wife is doing her Kaya FM breakfast show from home, because the technology allows it.
Personally, it will only be if I am quarantined that I will consider that option. I have been doing a lot of virtual parties. I think with smartphones, laptops, the internet, we can adjust.
What lessons are you learning from this strange period we going through?
Things I have always lived by – gratitude, financial savings and prioritising mental health are important. Many people have been left destitute because of the pandemic, so being grateful for having a roof over your head, daily meals, is important.
Something I do is limit social media time. Stay informed, interact but don’t stay on it long because there is a lot of negativity out there.
Your fans are extremely dedicated to you even the young ones. How does this make you feel?
I am always blown away and humbled by the love I get from people who support my career.
Having an old lady in a mall tell you they listen to your show, having a child build “our office” out of Lego; it’s moments like that that always remind me why I started what I do. If I can make one person smile, then I did my job.
Is it easy being a parent during lockdown?
I think teachers should have given us a crash course on how to be teachers at home. It was wobbly in the beginning, but I think we are much better now. I love having extra time to spend with my kids.
- DJ Fresh hosts the #FRESH ON 947 every day from 3pm to 7pm
- He was born in Botswana and studied media studies and journalism and sponsored the studies of students studying media at Boston Media house.
- He’s married to Thabiso Sikwane, who hosts Kaya FM’s breakfast show
- He runs his own business – Big Dawg Productions
- He has released over 25 music compilations
- Twitter: @DJFreshSA