DJ Doowap, real name Khethiwe Morgan, is a South African club and radio DJ who can be best described as a fiery ball of energy. Everything about her is eccentric, from her hair all the way down to her dubstep tunes.
Prior to our interview, I was curious to know more about Doowap over and above the TV interviews, and what had been written about her online. Quite frankly, there is something enticing about someone who journey’s through life with purple and pink hair.
The deejay has garnered a devoted following in the music industry since her days as a professional springboard diver. It wasn’t until her late teens that she got sucked into a depression spiral and decided to leave her first love, springboard diving, for music.
When I arrived at Constitution Hill for our chat, she was sitting on the floor, looking effortlessly beautiful in her bright lime jacket, printed tights, long orange lashes and white cornrows, and I asked myself, “Can one get any cooler than this?”
HOW DID YOUR LOVE FOR MUSIC AND DEEJAYING COME ABOUT? Growing up, I was a professional springboard diver and at 15, I decided to move to Canada for two years before relocating to Southampton in the UK, to train with the team there. When I was about 18, I got sick of diving and began doing things outside of the sport. Amid that, I started missing training and eventually gave up diving. In the wake of a failed diving career, I moved back to South Africa in 2012 to study sound engineering. That’s around the time I started DJing at gigs, I was playing was at a club in Melville called Roxy’s, when YFM scouted me. Everything pretty much started there for me.
YOU’RE STILL VERY ACTIVE AND HAVE PARTICIPATED IN A FEW MARATHONS, HOW DO THESE TWO WORLD INFLUENCE EACH OTHER? I think for anything in life, you need to have a champion mentality. I think you need to train your mind into believing that you’re capable of achieving anything. That kind of attitude has translated into the DJ world.
YOU HAVE DISRUPTED THE WESTERN IDEA OF BEAUTY THROUGH YOUR CLOTHING AND HAIR, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE AND WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION? The hair is inspired by Boom Shaka. Initially, I thought my identity was very much based on the Zulu girl/Nguni look but now I can feel myself moving away from that to a different dimension.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE AESTHETIC? WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR SENSE OF STYLE? Futuristic. I am inspired by Salt and Pepper, Boom Shaka and the year 1995. I grew up around Lebo Mathosa and Thembi Seeta because my parents used to own nightclubs. So, Boom Shaka has always been a huge inspiration for me.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR SELF-IDENTITY? I still haven’t found my self-identity yet, but I am getting there.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED AS A YOUNG WOMAN IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS? DO YOU FIND THAT THE WORLD DOESN’T TAKE YOUR IDEAS, AS WELL AS YOUR WORK SERIOUSLY BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE? No, I get taken seriously. I make sure I get taken seriously, I am very stern and I know my place. My mixing skills are as good, if not better than any male around me.
WHAT IS BEAUTY? Beauty to me is about self-love. I strongly believe it’s about self-care, doing all the things that make you happy. There is not one notion of beauty. For me to feel beautiful, I take care of my hair, I bring colours to my eyeshadows and mascara because I know that makes me feel beautiful and confident.
WHAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HAIR? DO YOU THINK OUR HAIR ENCOMPASSES WHO WE ARE? Yes, it’s another form of self-expression. I like to conceptualise and come up with weird, random geometric hairdos.
YOU WERE RECENTLY PART OF THE TRUE MUSIC FORUM IN ASSOCIATION WITH BOILER ROOM. ONE OF THE SPEAKERS OF THE NIGHT MENTIONED THAT AFRICANS STRUGGLE TO LOVE THEMSELVES AND EMBRACE THEIR UNIQUENESS. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT? I totally agree, when I started experimenting with coloured braids and traditional wear, a lot of old black women would ask why I was dressed like that and if my parents are not embarrassed by me. That says a lot about us as people.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE THUS FAR IN YOUR CAREER? It’s been witnessing everything come together for me, and performing at the MIA show.
Photos taken by Obakeng “Regular Obby” Molepe