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TMSKD DJ: ”The Reception To The Alte Scene Needs To Be Reevaluated”

TMSKD DJ (The Masked DJ) has been growing her prominence on the DJing circuits with her experimental music selections and amazing skill set. In addition to this, is her efforts at placing the shine on other women creatives through her annual ‘’Femme Vibes’’ concert. After years of playing across the city of Accra, TMSKD DJ was invited to this year’s GIDIFEST in Nigeria. Culartblog reached out to her to talk about her experiences, her career path, the idea behind’ Femme Vibes’ and the stakes for female DJs in Ghana.

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“I am a sound artist whose work focuses on the relationship between humans and music. Music is my go to place, it makes everything better. This is a song for how I feel at every given time. I honestly do not know how I would have survived certain times in my life without music. TMSKD DJ (The Masked DJ) is my anonymous alter ego that specializes in Electronic Dance Music”.

The above self-introduction hands you the complete sneak into the personality of TMSKD DJ. An artists who does not finds solace in music but provides a sonic experience whenever she takes her place behind the DJ’s console. 

TMSKD DJ is a rare breed when one takes into consideration that, she is among a countable number of females in the DJing space. The low participation of females within the DJing space has become a medium of inspiring other females to pursue their dreams, enter men dominating spaces and make an impression.

With six (6) years’ experience under her belt – having begun DJing during her University days, TMSKD DJ experimental and daring music set has come with its own benefits. Last month, she was invited to GIDIFEST, one of the biggest musical festivals in Nigeria. She has also used her position as a DJ and a female to create ‘’Femme Vibes’’, an annual convergence of women creatives across various sectors to share and highlight their creative works or talents. ‘’I felt we the ladies needed more visibility in whatever art form we were embarking on’’.

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Welcome back from GIDIFEST ’19. Was this your first time playing a festival set outside Ghana? – And your first visit to Nigeria?

Thank you. Yes it was my first festival outside Ghana, and first time in Nigeria.

What was the experience like for you as an artist (DJ) and event organizer? What stuck out for you?

It was an amazing experience and Nigerians really know how to host an event-from protocol to set up and performances, it was well executed.

How did you get invited to the event? Why did you decide to honour this invitation? In other words, what’s special about GIDIFEST?

I always make a yearly checklist and for 2019 I had a trip to other African countries with visits to Lagos and Abidjan as top priorities. I spoke to my colleague and she asked me to send in my portfolio and epk to the team. After a month or so I was emailed that I will be on the bill.

When the lineup came initially I was the only Ghanaian on it so it was pretty overwhelming and exciting at the same time. GIDIFEST is special because it is like their biggest art festival so yeah, it was a really big deal to me.

Describe your set to the readers? How much excitement did you serve on the day? How did you prepare for the day? 

It was mad exciting. I woke up that day pumped (up) though because I did pre event set with some dope EDM DJs the night before and it was amazing. But, waiting for my ride to the   grounds few hours to play, I really started panicking because I am like will they like what I am going to play? I calmed down, got there and did what I was there to do.

Nigeria is gradually becoming a cultural (music/art) hub in Africa largely because of their music/art explosion. Being from Ghana, what would say we must do to grow our art scene like how Nigeria is doing?

Nigerians are very receptive to arts. Not that we are not though, but they are willing to give everyone a chance to prove themselves and what they do. I feel in GH, we like things to be mainstream before we throw in our support.

You were part of a contingent of Ghanaian creatives at GIDIFEST. Looking back, would you say the performances shone light on the alte scene here in Ghana?

It did. I remember speaking about Kwesi Arthur and La Meme Gang during an interview and the hosts were really ready to check out their stuff. And all the interviews we went to they were really fascinated by Cina’s [Soul] craft because they said they mostly hear of only EFYA and Becca so hearing another amazing songstress was awesome and eye opening for them.

Nigerians are very receptive to arts. Not that we are not though, but they are willing to give everyone a chance to prove themselves and what they do. I feel in GH, we like things to be mainstream before we throw in our support.

With your unique position as a DJ, what’s your assessment of the Ghanaian music scene? Which aspect excite you and pisses you off as well?

Ghanaian music is evolving; we are setting paces but the reception to the alte scene needs to be reevaluated. We don’t need them to make afrobeats before we mess with their sounds. Some of these guys are phenomenal with or without mainstream backing.

How and when did you realize music has become part of you?

[I] think it has always been a part of me, but I really felt the pull probably in Junior High [school] even though at that point I didn’t what exactly I wanted with music.

At what point did make a decision to pursue this art form?

When I was in my second year in the University.

Was it easy convincing your parents that you were going to be a DJ? What did you tell them?

I never really had a conversation with them but my mum was and will forever be my biggest supporter for the just the little she saw me do or started with. My dad, (laughs typical father) he wanted me in a 9-5, so it was a bit of an argument once in a while. But I think I am doing well now so he has backed off, and I realized from conversations with other people he does tell them about his DJ daughter. Bet, he’s getting used to the idea that this is staying.

The mask is a bit of an alter ego; a bit of a shyness cover and a barrier for my DJing space when working

Until a couple of years ago, DJing in Ghana was not a much rated art form. Things seem to be changing. What will you consider as some of the gains made and areas we must improve?

It’s really encouraging now that more spotlight is being put on the DJ and their art. It helps give us some leverage when it comes to booking fees because the person understands what you do and your role in whatever space they are giving you.

How long have you been DJing professionally? Is it profitable an art form to pursue full time in Ghana?

About 6 years. In Ghana, there are certain hurdles that makes being a DJ full time a trip. It works for some it doesn’t work for some but yeah, it’s profitable depending on the number of bookings.

What’s the end game for you as a DJ? Is this a means to an end sort of thing? 

I will be a DJ forever if it’s the will of the universe. There is no alternative end to it for me.

The mask is a bit of an alter ego; a bit of a shyness cover and a barrier for my DJing space when working.

Your mask has become part of your identity. Why do you wear a mask when DJing? What does it symbolize? (There was a time – I think you were putting together ‘’Femme Vibes’’ at Serallio and someone pointed you out to me. You were without your mask. Till date, I doubt I can make you out without your mask).

[Laughs]. Hmmm, the mask. The mask is a bit of an alter ego; a bit of a shyness cover and a barrier for my DJing space when working. I am a pretty shy person so in 2015 I wanted to create something different; a whole new outlook for myself. Luckily, I found my first mask which belonged to my cousin. I took it to work and told my co DJs about it; that I was going to wear it for all my sets and it kind of took off from there.

You have, through your “Femme Vibes” event been creating an avenue for other females within the art space. What inspired this idea?

Femme Vibes (FM) is an ‘’International Women’s Day’ motivated event where I felt we the ladies needed more visibility in whatever art form we were embarking on. I mean, we are doing amazing but still the percentage is a bit low if compared to our male counterparts.

How grave is sexism within the DJing scene especially when dealing with event organizers/ clients?

Sexism is everywhere, we can only just rise above it and prove to anyone we deserve a chance to do what we want to do and how.

Is there an experience you can share?

Way back in University, I had the chance to play one of the Ghana DJ awards pre parties. This was at the beach and a fellow DJ came up and kept interrupting my set in a very derogatory way all because the controller I was using was just compatible with virtual DJ. It was pretty uncomfortable. I see him now and wonder if he remembers.

Is there any plan to veer into music production like some DJs are currently doing? 

That’s actually the second (thing) on my checklist. I have reached out to people, but I think they are all skeptical so I am just doing self-study. But, if there is anyone who likes to help I would be humbled.

If you are to form a DJ tag team of 4 to play at an event, who will you recruit?

ENDWD DJ, EFF THE DJ, SENSEI LO

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