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Conversations with DJ Shani

Today we’d like to introduce you to DJ Shani.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started in Radio in Chicago in the last 90’s. As a former raver, I discovered I didn’t agree with the younger generation having to wait until they turned 21 to hear good music.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
When I first started, the only thing I knew was what kind of music I wanted to play. But I knew NOTHING! I had no music, no equipment and I think I only knew two DJ’s, maybe three. The music industry & DJ culture are both extremely hard to break into. Often you get the reaction of “who’s this guy/gal?” People are less likely to help you out if you’re the new kid on the block. The more they saw me, the more they were open to have conversations with me. Basically, I had to earn people’s trust first and I think that’s with any industry.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’ve been a DJ since the late 90’s and became a DJ because I wanted to hear a sound that wasn’t on the radio at that time. I started at WLUW (88.7FM, Chicago) with a DEEP HOUSE radio show. DEEP HOUSE is more complex and nuanced than your run of the mill dance music. DH can be: Afro, Gospel, Latin, Jazzy, Techy, Acid. Some songs have lyrics, some lyrics aren’t in English and other songs can be instrumentals…you can cast your net wider with DH IMO. I’m most proud of presenting another option for music fans that don’t fit the typical idea(s) of what they think Chicago House Music is. It’s more that you know, I even learn every time I buy new music for a set. It exhilarating! What sets me apart from others is I literally learned how to play on air! Granted it was 2-6am when I first started. I thought no one was listening and boy was I wrong! There were no windows, it was in an old studio, but the perfect environment for me. It taught me how to create a vibe when no one’s around, when you can’t feed off of people dancing. That’s not an easy thing to do, but I dig playing an empty room at the beginning of the night, because I’m the puppeteer. I have a blank canvas and can create what I want and how I want.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
To believe in yourself even if you lack confidence. Sometimes, it’s hard to verbalize what your mind and soul and heart want, because you’re unclear about the specifics of what makes it makes sense for you. The moment I blocked out the naysayers and focused on what my heart of hearts wanted, it was game on and I’ve never looked back.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Arius Holifield Victor Price Vibe Vessel Willful Design and Photography

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