Music has the ability to tell a thousand stories, bring millions of people together and have them feeling a flurry of emotions. Usually the curators of this journey of emotions on your nights out with the squad or dinner at your favourite ‘barstaurant,’ that create an even more meaningful experience of these single works of art – by combining several songs to deliver a set that lights up the room and brings that extra vibe to an event – are the DJs. One such local curator is the ever effervescent Ms Selfie.
Quickly becoming a household name, Esther Muuka, professionally known as Ms Selfie is a Zambian based Afro house music DJ known for her up-tempo, dance persuasive sets as well as her ability to combine several genres to give a crowd exactly what they came for. Being in love with music for many years, Ms Selfie joined the entertainment industry and started her DJing career in September 2018, intrigued by spinning records and being in environments where people are free to express themselves as they vibe to the music.
“It all started out as a joke,” Ms Selfie states when asked how she got into DJing two years ago, having gone to school to study pharmacy. “I was quite good at creating playlists for my friends and I, playlists that put together all our favourite music and we all vibed to them. One of my friends, who is currently my manager, took it upon himself to book me an event and created a Facebook page. From that point on I had to take it seriously, so I invested in VirtualDJ and took to learning how to mix on the decks under the wing of local DJ Sebastien Dutch.”
Ms Selfie then joined a programme called Rackless Kazi formed by the founder of Modzi Arts Julia Taonga Kaseka. The programme was strictly for women DJs. It was meant to uplift young female DJs – arming them with information about the industry and combining training and mentorship for young women in this space, both up and coming and established.
When asked what it is like being one of the few women taking on DJing as a career locally, Ms Selfie quipped about how she doesn’t like being asked how it is being a “woman in a male dominated industry.”
“It’s like reducing everything I do to just being a girl (chuckles). You don’t see the boys being asked what it’s like being in a male dominated industry. It has its highs and lows. I find that I need to push two times as hard if not more, in comparison to my male counterparts. They get booked easier and they get paid much more.” Clearly the gender wage gap doesn’t evade the DJsphere and Ms Selfie briefly touched on how that’s one of the things Rackless Kazi is aiming to change.
Continuing on the subject of being a woman in the industry Ms Selfie said, “There are security issues, being a woman and having to deal with rowdy crowds every once in a while when people feel entitled to your space and time, but I think that’s something that affects the men in the industry as well.”
For all its challenges Ms Selfie finds her chosen path exhilarating. She is doing what she loves. And that’s her favourite thing about her job. That and being in an environment where people are free to express themselves, with her musical selection as the driver. On the other hand, she feels being a DJ “has made me more aware of how entitled people can be to your personal space and time, and that is my least favourite thing about being a DJ.” So, the next time you spot her and want to take a selfie with Ms Selfie, ask nicely.
Ms Selfie is inspired by many other DJs from Sebastien Dutch and Psycho Tash locally all the way to Black Coffee from South Africa. Sebastien Dutch is not just an inspiration but is also a mentor to Ms Selfie. She admires Black Coffee for how he has transformed the industry and achieved widespread acclaim at home and abroad. Another South African artist, DJ Cndo, was one of the first female DJs that Ms Selfie looked up to.
Though she has played at Lake of Stars (one of Africa’s largest festivals) and done sets in South Africa Ms Selfie says her most significant defining moment as a DJ so far has been “be being able to host my own events and be headliner of that – a major highlight being The Reckless Kazi 2019 showcase where we had 16 DJs (all female) at Fox and Hound. That was amazing. The experience stood out for me because it wasn’t about who we are, it was about local (female) DJs working together to take up space.”
When asked where she dreams of playing next Ms Selfie doesn’t suggest a world famous festival stage that other DJs may kill to feature on such as Tomorrowland or Coachella. She says she “would love to do a set in Korea. The energy there just seems different.”
So, catch Ms. Selfie on a Korean stage one day, but until then book her and watch her kick butt and grow in the DJ space locally and internationally.