By Mukurima Muriuki, Los Angeles.
Standing at 6’3, California based Tucha Kibutu towers over most of his peers in the DJ world. This, however, does not in any way come close to match the love he has for Kenyan music.
African Warrior Magazine spoke to DJ Tucha about his passion for music, his transition to America from Kenya, and his love for Chapati, Matumbo and Ugali.
You are an Upper Hill High alumnus. Being of this school, what does it mean to you?
Upper Hill High had students drawn from every walk of life: the rich and the ordinary; some from uptown; others from the hood. We were a mosaic of what represents Kenya and this diversity taught us how to live together, heck how to survive in a fast-sometimes-rough-world.
What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that I also attended another great school called Olkejuado High which was also very influential in molding who I am today.
Upper Hill High has produced great musicians and some will say you are also a great DJ. Is it in the school DNA?
Talent thrives where diversity of thought exists. If you think about it, producing great music requires different beats beating as one. Upper Hill High did play a part in this, but, my love for music and the art of a DJ started long before that, at Consolata Primary School.
When I was class 6, there was a Sunday DJ Pinye performed at Club Jungle, and the thought of watching a DJ of Pinye’s stature work on a set completely mesmerized me. I begged my dad to get me in (which he did) and I stood by the DJ booth the whole time in amazement at what he was doing. Right there I knew I wanted to be a DJ.
How was life growing up in Kenya?
Overall, life in Kenya was good. There is no other place like Kenya and I was fortunate to have parents who did everything they could to see that I excel. My brother was the biggest influence in my life and I looked up to him a lot. if it wasn’t for his sacrifice, I definitely wouldn’t be here today. Family is everything to me and I would do anything for them.
When did you migrate to America?
I migrated to the US in 2010, so I am still pretty new here, I should think hahaha.
Do you have siblings?
Yes I do. I have an older brother.
At the 254 Diaspora DJ Live in the Mix Facebook Group, you only play the new-Kenyan music. Why is that the case?
The short answer is that in life we have to believe in and have a passion for something and I am passionate for not just Kenyan music, but East African music as a whole. The amount of great music coming out of Kenya is incredible and I have to do my part in making people aware of it.
When you only play KE music, what happens to other fans who want a little bit of everything?
In a club setting I do play every genre, but online I concentrate on my passion which includes creating awareness of the great music coming out of Kenya and East Africa. East African music is an amalgamation or fusion of cultures to keep everyone entertained: Afrobeat, Afropop, AfroReggae, AfroRap, Taarab etc
How is life in California?
I like California; it’s very similar to Nairobi life in the sense of accessibility, weather, food and is very multicultural.
What does it take to be a great DJ?
You have to be passionate for the music and the Art. If you are a DJ for anything other than that you will, at some point, plateau and become mediocre DJ at best.
Who inspires you the most?
Music inspires me the most. As a DJ when I play a set, I am aware that what I project through the music can change someone’s mood. The fact that, after a set, someone can come up to me crying and mention how happy I made them feel after an otherwise lackluster day, that inspires me.
Who would you say is your biggest fan?
Primarily pure music lovers. There are, however, different categories of fans and a true fan will always openly support and give genuine support because they believe in what you do. Such a fan sees your vision and direction and buys into it. A simple act like sharing a post by a DJ announcing a gig can tell you the fans who are not shy about telling everyone about their favorite DJ!
What does being a DJ mean to you?
It means everything to me. Since I was in primary school, I always wanted to be a DJ. I still recall developing a love for music as a young kid, and years later when the artistry of being a DJ took hold of me and never let go, I have not looked back.
People don’t know you are a biker and ride a Motorcycle. What else don’t fans know about you?
That I love bananas. No I am not from Kisii. Hahaha
Matumbo – Ugali or stew with Chapati
How has Covid-19 affected gigs for Djs
For guys who only relied on clubs and other events it has really affected them. COVID-19 has forced guys to think outside the box and get creative.
Where do you want to see yourself, as a DJ, in the next 5 years?
I don’t just want to be the best DJ, I want to affect change in all that I do; be it in bringing Kenyan music or EA music to the limelight or whatever it may be. In order to do that I have to push my way to the top.
You stand at over 6 feet tall, perhaps the tallest DJ I have met (Lol). Does that give you any advantage?
Haha, people don’t realize until they see me. I am actually 6’3”. I guess The only advantage here is that I am easy to spot hahaha.
What is the Mashariki Movement?
I started Mashariki Movement mainly because Kenyan and EA music did not have a platform more so in the West Coast of America where i live. This idea is for anyone who believes in Afro East, be it music, the arts or whatever sheds a positive light and creates awareness to our beloved country and community, to join hands together and keep rooting out the barriers that obstruct development of our talents.
When do you go on set next?
Friday May 15
As Kenyans or East Africans we have to see ourselves as iconographic ambassadors. We have to take it upon ourselves to paint a good picture of where we came from so that the world can see our motherland from the finesse of our brushes. I am doing this through music. Remember it starts with you.
Follow DJ Tucha on Instagram @DJTucha or listen to his mixes HERE