My Date with DJ Sail

 DJ Sail is a professional DJ, events organizer, sound engineer, events MC and hype man and graphic designer. Sail started off in 2017 playing in clubs and organizing events, before investing in equipment in late 2018 and setting up an events company (NextCity Events). He later transitioned to doing private events.

Photo c/o DJ Sail
Hello Sail, The last time we met was back in campus at an event you were deejaying at, how have you been?
Yeah, and that must have been back in 2015 or 2016, time flies. But I've been good, just pushing on with the hustle.

How has your journey as a DJ been?
It started back in 2013, my friend had bought a smartphone and installed this software that could play two songs back to back and at the same time, and I found that exciting. So when I bought my first laptop that's the first software I installed and started playing around with till I figured out at least how it works. I later met a friend who was better at using it and he taught me basics on how to DJ. After that, I remember playing at some Friday parties in the hostels at UoN back in my first year and it was fun.

So when we went for the long holidays I had an internship, from where I managed to save about Kes 60,000, then borrowed another Kes 40,000 from a friend (which I didn't even have an idea on how I was going to pay back but I believed I would). I used the Kes 100,000 to buy my first DJ gear, a Pioneer Serato DDJ-SX.

I used it to train on how to DJ (using YouTube tutorials). From there I met a guy called DJ Amm in 2015, they had this show every Thursday at Ufungamano House called Campus Trend, he was their official Dj and was looking for DJ gear to hire.

We came to an agreement that had them hire my DJ gear every Thursday at Kes 1,500.  That's when I realized that apart from just training myself, I could hire the gear too and make some money, and that's how I managed to pay the Kes 40,000 I had borrowed.  I then decided to put in more effort towards the art, getting gigs, saving and reinvesting, till today.

Describe the feeling you had the first time you played a DJ set and planned your first event
I was nervous. The first DJ set you play you don't know how people are going to react to your playlist, but with time you get to master the art.

Planning my first event, you put in a lot of work in marketing but you don't even know if people are going to show up.  It's like a gamble but it's part of the process.

Who/what inspired you while growing up?
Growing up, I remember my mom listening to the likes of Mbilia Bel and just a lot of music. I never thought I would end up in the industry because I wanted to be a pilot. When that backfired, I ended up here where I am today.

I also remember looking for radios and removing the speakers, building carton cases and listening to the effect that would have on the sound output and it was an exciting experience.

I think all these contributed to who I am today.

You studied BSc Electrical and Electronics Engineering, then you decided to follow your passion for deejaying and events. How was that transition?
When I realized I could make money deejaying at the small gigs I got back then plus hiring the gear for some extra cash, I saw an opportunity. I decided to quit school when it became so difficult to balance between my engineering course which was so demanding and deejaying. I had to sacrifice one and followed my passion.

How do you switch between the many titles that you have and how do you find a balance to make sure all are successful?
They actually complement each other. When deejaying, you need good sound which then makes it important for you to know how to do it. You DJ at events, and to get more control of your sets, you need to learn how to use the microphone.

Coming to graphic design I had to learn that from the frustrations of paying someone to do you a poster then they'd take like 3 days before they deliver yet I was working under timelines. 

Then to photography, every event or party needs a photographer to capture the moments. 

All of them work together.

Tell us more about your company, NextCity Events and the different professional services you offer
NextCity Events provides professional and quality events solutions to our clients for their parties, from professional DJ services, DJ equipment, sound and PA System, lights screens, and stage, events planning and decor, graphic design, and soon, photography and Videography.

We also have a DJ school.

The entertainment industry has evolved over the years and continues to. What’s the future for you and the industry especially now that COVID-19 has changed the entertainment industry?
Evolution of the industry mainly in technology has seen the invention of even better equipment which means better service delivery to our clients.

About COVID, I think it's just a passing cloud and soon life will either be back to normal or we'll have learnt how to live with it. Attending a party on zoom and in person cannot give you the same experience. People need to physically socialize for it to be called a party.

Let’s talk music, what do you love to play and what is in a song that draws you to it?
I play and listen to everything, so long as it sounds good. I have a collection all the way from the 60s to the latest hits. I have also done many different kinds of events that require me to play different kinds of music, from Indian events, Somali events, South Sudan, Arabs, Korean, Latino, Danish, Nigerian, South African, all the major tribes in Kenya, etc

I end up listening to the music even after the events. 

What's the best and worst part about what you do?
The best part is I am lucky enough to get paid for doing what I love and enjoy.

I can't see any worst part to it, to be honest, maybe the people who judge us think every DJ is a drunkard who is not serious with life, and whatever else they say.

How do you get the crowd engaged, energized, and in the party spirit?
That involves a lot of things, deejaying is a form of art, you create moods.

But you have to know what to play, for who, and at what point during the party.

In the end, everyone should go home satisfied.

Which is the best and worst audience you ever played for?
Every audience I have played for is the best for me. I always strive to do better and make the next party better than the previous one; but also, every audience is different in its own right.

I can't pick any worst one, I have enjoyed every party I have played at.

How do you prepare for an event?
I inquire from the client the kind of people expected at the party, from that I can get a rough idea of what to play. I always have all my music sorted and in order.

You cannot really tell what you will play at a party until you are there; some are so diverse will require you to dig deeper into your music crates and even download some music you never played before.

You are supporting the next generation of DJs through your DJ school. What would you tell the young and upcoming DJs?
If you know what you want then go for it.

It's not easy, the road is bumpy, but you have to keep moving.

Stay disciplined, professional and true to the art, it pays.

What business lessons have you learnt along the way?
The business of deejaying is expensive, equipment are expensive to buy and maintain, and you always want to move a step ahead.

Learn to save as much as you can and keep reinvesting, financial discipline is key.

Social media account
Instagram: @dj_sail

Facebook: Sail Dennis (Dj Sail)

Twitter: @deejay_sail