Female DJ takes on men

HARARE - She takes no prisoners and is unapologetic about her determination to conquer the male-dominated deejaying world.

So determined is Larissa “DJ Lyaness” Makahamadze to make her mark in this male domain that she quit a stable job as an administrator to pursue her deejaying passion.

“It is my personality. I consider myself a leader. I am very confident and assertive and I have always wanted to challenge men as a leader.

“I have always wanted to break the notion that men are better than women. I did not only want to see change but like Mahatma Gandhi said, be the change that you want to see,” Lyaness told the Daily News on Sunday.

Her determination to undo the domination of men extends beyond the arts as demonstrated by the fact that she is a key member of the Sally Women’s Institute, a non-governmental organisation that empowers young women with leadership skills and advocates for equal participation of women in decision making in all sectors.

But it is her brave and captivating journey into the world of deejaying that has taken her a step further towards achieving her dreams.

“It all started when I wanted to do a rap song and somebody suggested on my creative blog that I must do dancehall. I followed a friend of mine who is a dancehall DJ on several of his shows to enable myself to get a feel of the genre.

“One day I got bored from listening and started learning how to play music using the simplest DJ software.

“When I was selecting on my own, some people at the event suggested that I must enter a female DJ clash. So after two months of deejaying, I won the 2015 Female DJ Clash,” DJ Lyaness said.

Thanks to her success at the DJ clash, she landed a one-year contract with a local radio station less than a month after the contest.

Initially, her slot ran for 30 minutes but was later increased to three hours after it received positive feedback.

“I have been a club DJ for the past two years and I have also shared the stage with top artistes at some events. I have shared the stage with the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi, Jah Prayzah, Suluman Chimbetu, Killer T and Winky D,” she said.

DJ Lyaness, who has regular slots at Gaby’s Restaurant, Travel Plaza and The Volt, however, concedes that her deejaying stint has had its fair share of challenges.

“It’s challenging because some male DJs don’t see you as a friend but as a competitor, so they try to sabotage your acts. There is a lot of jealous and envy in the industry, because I secure a lot of shows and have been on radio,” she told the Daily News on Sunday.

DJ Lyaness, who along with the equally good DJ Naida are giving men a run for their money, derives inspiration from South Africa’s Nigeria-born DJ Waxxy.

“He is a top DJ who has raised the bar very high and has won several awards,” she said.

Like most artists, DJ Lyaness, who is also a fashion designer and is a holder of diplomas in accounting and administration, initially struggled to get her parents to endorse her career choice.

“I used to sing in church and my mother became aware of certain rap songs through me. Now they appreciate, because I have excelled within a short time. I have been on radio, I have done a lot of shows with some of the country’s big artistes and this has obviously impressed them,” she said.

Though she is better known as a DJ, she is equally determined to make it as a musician.

“I have two dancehall singles-Bad Mind and We Run It — which are attracting airplay. I plan to release an album within the next two years,” she said, adding that the fact that her hand is in many cookie jars won’t undercut her career growth.

“Apart from being a DJ and musician, I am also a fashion designer. I produce African ethnic wear for both men and women. My design for the youths is called Badness and for the classy mature wear it is called Rissa Elle.

Despite the fact that she is pursuing three careers at one go, DJ Lyaness has no manager.

“I am not yet under any management, unless I find a person who can be able to manage all my careers. I have met a number of people who wanted to manage me but most of the men who expressed interest to manage me, actually wanted to start romantic relationships with me or I ended up getting bigger events than they are able to source for me. My brand is much safer in my hands,” she said.

The last born in a family of three, could not part without giving advice to aspiring female artistes.

“They have to work very hard, stay focused, have a strong support system, never to give up, develop a thick skin and also recognise God in everything that they do,” said DJ Lyaness.

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