Steve Nyaosi aka DJ Shinski is a Kenyan international deejay based in the USA. He shared his story with Spice magazine.
Where were you born and bred?
I was born and raised in Nairobi. I relocated to the USA after completing high school at Highway Secondary School in Nairobi in 2006, after my mum won the US Green Card lottery, which allowed her to bring the family to the US.
Growing up, I was mostly an introvert. I kept to myself and didn’t speak much unless I was spoken to.
My main interests were science, technology, arts, crafts and music. However, I would occasionally indulge in sports such as basketball and soccer.
Did you always have an interest in performing arts?
I have always been passionate about arts and music from a young age. In high school, I would usually spend my weekends at home by myself drawing cartoons and listening to music preferably DJ mixes.
I would do a lot of research on music even going as far as competing with my classmate on who had the biggest and the best music collection in their library.
When did you realise you had love for deejaying?
It started in my high school days. I used to commute to school and the matatus used to play DJ mixes and I would always dream about having my mixes played in the matatus too.
Looking back, I can point out that the matatu culture inspired me to really go and pursue my deejaying craft.
Also, my friends and I were really into music, so when one of them introduced me to a deejaying software called Virtual DJ, I got immediately hooked.
From that day onwards, I practised daily at home until I got the opportunity to deejay live for a crowd.
I have since travelled and performed in many countries such as France, UK, Belgium, Canada, Kenya, Jamaica, Antigua and US, among others.
How was it starting out as a pro DJ?
Turning my hobby to a profession was not easy. I used to deejay at house and private parties while going to campus for my bachelors in electrical engineering and working a full-time nine-to-five job at the same time.
I would do it for fun and didn’t see it as a profession. I started taking it seriously in 2010 when I got a residency in several clubs in Houston, Texas in USA.
That’s when I knew I had potential and I put more time in promoting myself on social media using mixtapes.
In late 2018, I decided to quit my engineering job and travel the world performing as a full-time professional DJ. It has been great so far and I am looking forward to the future.
How was the feeling landing there for the first time?
My first stop in the USA was in Minnesota and it was during winter. I can never forget the first time I experienced snow.
The cold was too much for me to handle and that experience almost made me want to catch the next flight back to Kenya.
Luckily, my sister was already living in Houston, and she took me in. It never snows in Houston and I have since lived there.
Have you encountered any discrimination while there?
Yes, but it was “hidden” and subtle racism. Hidden meaning that it’s not really obvious in the public eye.
I have experienced it through my work place in the corporate scene and when dealing with law enforcement.
Even my fellow black people have some racist ideology against each other. I eventually learned how to deal with it by educating myself about human psychology while also promoting positivity to every encounter I have with different people.
Culture change will take time and I am happy to see the progress the country and the world has done.
How has it been working as a DJ in the US?
It has been both challenging and exciting. The best thing about deejaying in the US is that I get to interact and play music for different cultures from all over the world.
I like diversity and the US is a melting pot of different cultures. It has been a challenge to prove myself to the American crowd that I am capable of entertaining them as much or even better than their local DJs.
To overcome this, I had to do extensive research on the type of music they like and practise a lot. Years later, I am able to entertain almost any type of crowd with ease.
How is the arts space there compared to Kenya?
The arts space here is more accepted and appreciated compared to Kenya. I believe the culture here in the US encourages people to pursue creative ideas and they get rewarded for it.
That’s why they say the US is the land of opportunity. I think the Kenyan culture can borrow this idea and implement it to the youth while also rewarding them accordingly. It will bring more job opportunities to so many people in the country.
Who do you look up to as a DJ?
I don’t have anyone in particular that I look up to. However, I have a few DJs that I follow and pay attention to.
Each DJ has their own strong points that make them stand out, and that is what I look up to.
What are your plans as a creative?
I plan to produce my music and work with both well-known and upcoming artistes.
I already have my first single out online called 1, which I collaborated with Arrow Bwoy and producer Giggz.
It’s available on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and every other streaming platform.