How Shimza Got His Start as a DJ

Lauryn Njeri

2 min read

How Shimza Got His Start as a DJ

Tembisa-born Ashley Raphala, better known as Shimza, has earned the moniker "effect master" and "vinyl assassin" for his inventive and contagious performance style. Since the early age of 15, Shimza has honed his skills on the decks and in the studio. Dance floors are left dumbfounded by how skilfully he punctuates his sets with intricate queuing and looping as he crafts his distinctive "Afro-tech" sound.

Shimza's love for Djing stemmed from the love of music that he grew up around. There was rarely a moment when music wasn't playing at home. As his independent musical taste formed, the youth radio station, Y-FM launched in South Africa in 1997. The curation for the station influenced much of what the people of South Africa listened to. Y-FM championed new music from around the world and ultimately shaped Shimza's determination to pursue the art of Djing.

"My biggest challenge was obviously learning how to DJ, which took a lot of practice but I think over time that got better. Now, I listen to music that I'm going to play. I don't sit and practice DJing anymore because I feel like I've got the rhythm. Now it's just my brains and, and putting together music that I've got during the week or like some of the new songs that I think will make sense for my sets."

Shimza has become a mainstay of South Africa's vibrant and growing dance music scene. He's always been keen on empowering younger DJs and producers by exporting the sounds of South Africa to the global stage.

"Obviously you have the normal challenges as a young upcoming DJ or a producer where you need some certain doors to be opened for you which is not that easy, but with time, patience and always trying to prove yourself, you'll always find a way to open those doors."

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