|Check out our other channels »|
To coincide with her 3 year anniversary on SSRadio, we point the spotlight on Miss Candice McKenzie to find out a little more about how she got into the scene…
Of Ghanaian and Jamaican descent, Candice was born and raised in London, and it was listening to the city’s many pirate radio stations that sparked her passion in House music. She told us:
“I used to listen to stations such as Chicago 90.6 FM, Taste 92.5 FM and Upfront 99.3 FM when I was in my early teens. I would record the radio shows to cassette overnight then listen back during the day. I loved the Soulful House/US Garage/UK Garage that was played on these stations.
“When I was 16 I worked in Clarks the shoe shop at the weekends. One of my colleagues was a DJ. We did a fashion show and he did a mix tape for it. I was really impressed with two things, a track on the mix tape by Barbara Tucker called “The Horn Song” and the fact that he could mix two records together so there were no gaps between the songs. I asked him to teach me how to mix but instead he lent me his Technic 1210 decks so I could teach myself. A few months later I purchased a pair of Technic 1210 from an old school friend who was selling them to pay for his Ibiza trip. I still have the same 1210’s today.”
Candice followed her newfound passion for mixing, putting in countless hours as a bedroom DJ. As her skills and confidence grew, she started playing out at small parties, and was soon attracting attention as an aspiring DJ within the deep & soulful House scene.
This determination was rightfully recognised in 2009 (and again in 2010), when she was awarded DJ of the Year in the annual BEFFTA awards, a distinctly special ceremony honouring the best showbiz and entertainment personalities in the black and ethnic communities in the UK, USA, Africa, Caribbean, Canada and globally.
This accolade further helped propel her status, and she was soon being booked to play at high-profile gigs all over the world. We asked her to tell us about some of her favourites:
“The T Mobile “Fun Factory” tour in Croatia (Zadar and Split) is probably the most high profile gig that I’ve done. DJing in a beach bar overlooking the sea is something that I’ll never forget.
“It took almost 24 hours to travel to Khabarovsk in Russia but it was worth it as the gig at Heart Club was a lot of fun.
“Club Colosseum in Macedonia is probably the biggest club that I have DJ’d at in terms of number of the people (it’s a huge club!), and the people were great! They didn’t want to go home when the party had finished!
“The Scottish Soulful Weekender at the Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries, Scotland. Such a nice, warm, friendly vibe throughout the whole of the 3 day party. I’m looking forward to DJing at the Weekender again this year.”
As great as it all sounds, Candice is the first to admit that the life of a successful DJ is often a solitary one:
“I’ve DJ’d in so many different clubs around the world over the last 10 years which has been a lot of fun, but constant travelling can be lonely and priorities change when you are in a relationship.”
Nowadays, Candice prefers to stay a bit closer to home:
“I enjoy DJing in the UK, for House music events that are not afraid to book female DJ’s on the same line up as male DJs, as all DJs are equal. The power of the DJ is in their skill and not in their sex.
“I am still very open to DJing in other countries and regularly receive enquires for overseas gigs, although I don’t do these as often as I used to.”
Being in this position has given Candice the privilege of now being able to choose the gigs she really wants to play at.
“Being asked to DJ at Nyumba Deep (Deep/Afro Deep Underground House Music Night) was an honour as I really enjoy attending their parties. “
One thing that keeps Candice’s name firmly on the map is her radio show on SSRadio, which she broadcasts live from her home studio each and every Saturday afternoon.
SSRadio was originally recommended to her by one of the stations other DJs, Chris Joy. He’d been impressed with her performances at his “So Funky” nights, and suggested that she applied for a radio show. Sure enough, the station management were also suitably impressed with the mix she submitted. Her application was promptly accepted, and in August 2010, the Dolly Mixture Show was born.
“It still blows my mind that technology today allows my show to be listened to anywhere in the world. I have people regularly listening to my show live from France, America, Germany Thailand, Romania and of course the UK.
“I like to play music that has uplifting, inspirational lyrics and I love it when a listener sends me a message in the Shout Box saying that they like what I’m playing and want to know the ID of a song, especially when the song is a favourite of mine.
“I recently got a DJ booking in London after the promoter of the party heard my Dolly Mixture Radio Show podcast being played in the Busy Corner bar in Tembisa, South Africa while on holiday. I like that type of listener!“
Being a station resident has also meant that Candice has been able to play at SSRadio events, a privilege reserved exclusively for their most dedicated DJs. Among her favourite memories of working with SSRadio, she recalls:
“The SSRadio 7 year anniversary party in June 2012 was a lot of fun! I attended the boat party on the river Thames with some friends then I DJ’d at the afterparty which took place at the Golden Bee in Shoreditch. I warmed up for Spiritchaser which was pretty cool.”
So where would she like to see the station go?
“It would be great to see SSRadio more involved in big events/festivals, for example more presence at Southport Weekender and Suncébeat, maybe a tent at Lovebox Weekender or South West Four, an area at Glastonbury… that sort of thing.”
Candice is certainly a passionate and determined young lady, and it’s always inspiring to see when this perseverance pays off. When a DJ’s sole motivation is to share the music that they love, it’s beautiful to watch them succeed…and Candice is truly a poster girl for this.
We couldn’t leave without asking her for the one track that’s guaranteed to be in her set at SSRadio’s summer party this weekend:
“Janice B and N’Dinga Gaba “Feeling Fine” – N’Dinga’s original mix (on Quantize Recordings). I love playing songs with an inspirational message and this is probably one of the most inspirational tracks to be released this year.”
You can catch Candice McKenzie alongside a whole host of SSRadio DJs spinning at our summer party in Guildford this Saturday 24th August. Visit http://ssradio.com/invitation for more information.
Photograph © 2013 Owen Money Photography