By Vincent Ramatsebe
Sandile Wili otherwise known as DJ Mizz, is a young, passionate producer from Khayelitsha in Cape Town. Having co-produced two of last year’s biggest hits in the country, Mizz has also released numerous tracks under international labels such as DM Recordings based in the UK and online stores like Traxsource.
His outstanding musical work has been circulating on our local radio airwaves and house heads can’t help but take notice of this young talented producer with a growing reputation for his musical production skills. We sat down with him to let us know about the hits he has been producing and where his career, which is only just beginning, is going from this moment onwards.
1. You are known for your ambience in your afro-produced tracks and the combination of drums and strings. Where did you learn your musical skills from? Was production for you self-taught or did you take the education route?
Many of my musical skills, I taught myself. I guess it all comes from my curiosity to always learn new things and improve my skills.
2. What part of the production process do you find the most challenging?
I sometimes get criticism from mixing engineers who don't feel that my songs are not properly mixed according to their standards. I have tried in the past to get one of my productions mixed by a professional mixing engineer and I feel that changed the whole impact of the song. I prefer to do my mixing while I'm composing, so that I don't compromise anything. People like my mixes and that's all that matters to me.
3. Most of your tracks have been underground, but recently you’ve been producing what some would say is commercial house music. Was the change intended?
I honestly feel that more and more people are getting exposed to my sound. I never intended a change in my sound and I still cannot hear a change in it. Maybe it could be that I am evolving as a composer. “Commercial” is just a term to me and I still don't know how it is different to any other sound.
4. Tell us about your collaboration with DJ Merlon on the track ‘Koze Kuze’. How did that come about?
Koze Kuse is inspired by my old instrumental called “Forest night” that I did in 2011. Merlon and Mondli were freestyling on it for some time and they approached me to record vocals on top of that instrumental and that’s how Koze Kuse was born.
5. You also co-produced ‘Count your blessings’ with Rabs Vhafuwi, a song that is regarded as your breakthrough song into the industry. How did that collaboration come about?
I had already started working on the instrumental for ‘Count your blessings’ when Rabs approached me and told me he had an idea of adding live instruments (trumpet and guitar) into the song. I gave him the freedom to do as he pleased and that’s how ‘Count your blessings’ came about.
6. So how did it make you feel that you co-produced two of the biggest house tracks in 2014?
I feel blessed. I really cannot describe the feeling but I know it's good and I'm enjoying it.
7. When there's more music than one can possibly take in, it becomes increasingly difficult to know what constitutes an original song and a remake anymore. What's your opinion on the importance of roots, traditions, respecting originals and sources?
I don't think we do it intentionally, but I do believe that these songs are all songs we've heard before.
8. You are currently based in Khayelitsha in Cape Town. Do you find it easy to market your music from that side and also get gigs?
Internet internet, internet! It has made it easier for us to get our music out there. Plus I have a strong team around me that handles that side of the business for me, so I leave that to them.
9. Most people come to Joburg to launch the start of their music careers and so forth. Do you plan to move to Joburg at some point?
No, I'm happy in Cape Town. It's working for me.
10. Are you signed to any record labels at the moment and if so, which one?
I'm signed to a management company named Black Mango.
11. Lastly, what are your plans for the future?
I'm currently working on my upcoming album due to come out before summer.