Joseph Kamau alias DJ Skylla, 26, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was just 3 months old. Despite being saddled to his wheelchair, DJ Skylla has built a name for himself in the entertainment scene. His current MC (hypeman) is his former schoolmate at Joy Town, Robert Kimotho, 23, who is also physically challenged. He is also assisted on the decks by Winnie
Last year, DJ Skylla registered his company, Skylla K-Entertainment Limited. The trio has a popular Facebook page called DJ Skylla Kprince, where they have been releasing their latest mixes.
You have talent working on the decks and you understand your work well. How did you end up together?
Our friendship goes way back to primary school days at Joy Town Special School, Thika, more than 12 years ago. Back then, Joseph had a passion for computers, besides we both loved music especially when it came to mixing. But we separated after finishing primary school but later met after completing our high school. However, this time around, we agreed to work on our passion, which was to become DJs. With two DJs on set – Winnie, and Joseph – I settled on being the MC because I could hold the microphone
What inspired you to work as a team?
The idea of us giving back to the school and those living with disability, for making us who we are today, is what inspired us to come together. After working hard through our training to be DJs, we wanted to give back by offering free training to those willing to learn. It’s from there that we decided to work as a team under Skylla Entertainment Limited, which is a registered company run by DJ Skylla as the chief executive.
Apart from training, what else do you do?
We always wanted to be ambassadors for people living with disabilities. We want to be the voice of change of the bad perception in the mindset of our society. Most people think people living with disability like physical handicap are beggars. We wanted to prove a point that given the opportunity and equal treatment, we can deliver.
How difficult was it to attend DJ classes?
It was difficult, but we thank God we managed. We were turned away by several institutions. It was even harder for DJ Skylla, who uses his big toe as his finger. But some kind soul took him in for special classes. But the institution was based in Ngong and so he had to commute daily from Ruiru to attend classes. And if that was not enough, the classes were conducted on the third floor of a building without a lift.
What challenges did you face when you first ventured into the industry?
The main hurdle was getting the equipment. The machines needed were quite expensive, so we had to opt for cheaper ones to get us moving. DJ work needs a lot of equipment like DJ controller machines, mixers, quality sound systems, laptop (Mac Book Pro), which are quite costly.
Most DJs have moved to virtual entertainment, which you have also embraced. How did you get the over 600,000 followers?
It’s through God’s grace, our commitment and consistency that we started with one viewer, ourselves. We used to go live and watch ourselves mix and within weeks, some of our family members and friends joined in. We were persistent and never gave up. Every Sunday, we went live and in the process, we got an invite to DJ for a Facebook page called Room 103. From there, we got other opportunities to play in diaspora DJ platforms like 254 Diaspora, DJs, and 254 Reggae. That’s how the number of followers grew. People loved our way of mixing, what we do, and the uniqueness in us. I think we inspired and motivated many people. So whenever we go live, fans tap the likes and share buttons every day.
Why did you opt to be gospel DJs?
We decided to do gospel because we wanted to be an inspiration to this generation, we wanted to show the love of God through music and appreciate the talents God has given us. The good thing with gospel music is that it’s diverse. There is reggae, hip hop and dance hall gospel so we keep up with what our audience want to hear and by doing that people love and like our mixes.
Social media is full of negative energy and criticism, how do you deal with such?
People always say what they want and you cannot control that. On social media, there are insults and a lot of negative energy. The only way is to convert it into positive vibes. For us, we wanted to send a positive message to the world and we have the vision to achieve. Although some comments may be hurting, when it goes deep, we ignore and go on.
Are there online comments made you feel disrespected?
There are a lot. When you hear or read some comments, many a time you shed tears. People make fun of our conditions and some even think we are pretender seeking sympathy and to be pitied. One of the comments that touched us was when one of our followers mocked our disability, it touched me that in this era, people still look down on physically challenged people
What keeps you going?
Our vision and what we want to achieve in the future drive our passion. Making a difference in society and of course the world. We also have able managers, who are always there and willing to go extra miles to see us succeed. People like Yvonne Waithaka and Anthony Gitau are always there to support us and so is our family and friends. Our biggest fans are our parents they have been so supportive especially DJ Skylla mother. She has done everything for us. She has been there for us.
What benefits have you gained so far virtually?
We have gained a lot from virtual DJ not only financially but also experience.
Are physically handicapped DJs given an equal opportunity like the rest?
No, we are only four known physically challenged DJs countrywide – our team and the one working at State House (DJ Euphoric). But getting a tender for our company has been difficult. Most managers don’t want to hire handicapped DJs. We really fight to fit in the industry and many managers and promoters don’t believe in our capability
Why do event mangers turn away handicapped DJs?
They think people with disability are out to seek help on a bowl like beggars or probably we want to be pitied. They don’t know we just want a chance to prove we are able and willing to do our best if given the chance.
What would you want to be adjusted in the industry so that those living with disabilities can fit?
Let them make access to events open to all. They should have ramps at such events. Most importantly give us equal opportunity.
Any message that you have for the youth?
We are young and we should use our youthful years to create a better life in the future. The youth should be innovative and also be willing to work.