DJ Shock Africa speaks about her career, mentoring and fashion in Kenya

A graduate of Homeboyz DJ Academy, DJ Shock Africa has played backup DJ to Groove Award winners such as Eko Dydda, Juliani, HolyDave and Kelele Takatifu to name a few. DJ Shock Africa, otherwise known as Jacqueline Geoffrey, has also been among the top 10 DJs at the 2011 auditions for Pilsner Mfalme, has played at K1’s Smirnoff “Party in the Snow”, and even supported international hiphop minister “Da Truth” of the Xist Music Label from the US.

Jacqueline Geoffrey has been doing this for 10 years and counting. Presently, she is working with MadLove Lounge as well mentoring DJ’s, artists and the youth. Being a DJ has given her a voice to mentor, a great way to connect with the youth and do outreach. “Mentoring also borders into personal issues- getting through life- so it does give me that voice.”  It is encouraging to find people like Jacqueline who not only do their ‘day job’ but also realize the importance of building the youth today and makes time for it. “Keeping the youth busy with their passion is the best thing- the question is what is their passion? We just have to help them find it” by engaging with them.

Like the fashion industry, Jacqueline states, there needs to be standardization in the DJ Teaching Schools as well as accreditation to ensure that students are being taught what is correct. “Whenever you are trying to change something, you have to change it slowly.”

“I loved fashion before I loved Deejaying- that dream died as soon as I told my dad,” she laughs. At this moment, she delves in photography and being a make up artist. Just about anything that brings her closer to fashion, she will do.  One of the things she wishes she could see in Kenyan fashion are local designers aspiring to produce to the level and professionalism of international designers. “I would love to see us where people can come to Kenya and see something unexpected and trendsetting. I have seen peplum skirts to last me a lifetime.”

“We need to push the envelope.”

When asked about the fashion industry and its pace currently, she suspects that trends internationally set end up in Kenya and become a trend for decades long after the international trends have changed. It also seems that clients are also playing it safe, she explains, so the designer is also limited to selling what people want, even if it is another kitenge peplum, she sighs. The clients and consequently the designers do not want to experiment leaving behind a lack of change, she explains.

Jacqueline has been involved in the fashion industry from 2007 and has seen the influx of, what she calls ‘wannabes,’  who are bringing the standards down. “Especially in the 90’s in Kenya, designers and models were doing things above board with good finished products and well structured events. When it comes to fashion shows in Kenya, she states unequivocally “we need to push the envelope.” She explains that if you are truly passionate about fashion and are doing it for a good reason, you only need a good team and creativity to pull anything off. “People’s homes are getting very comfortable. They have Internet, DSTV, and endless entertainment so why should I pay more than 3000 to battle through traffic to see your show? You must give me a good reason and good production to take me away.”

“I would like to see some creativity and diversification.”

She explained that now, many people have entered into the fashion industry for commercial purposes so there is no passion to do things right. “It is better to do one thing right then do many things badly”. She further explained that in this day and age, there is also an influx of fake modeling agencies interested solely in making money and nothing else. There is also a lot of copying, she sighs again. “I do kitenge jewelry so you will do kitenge jewelry and she will do kitenge jewelry. So we all do jewelry together that is the exactly same. I would like to see some creativity and diversification.”

A DJ, a mentor and a fashion enthusiast, she has nothing but great aspirations for the fashion industry in Kenya. Most of all, she cites creativity, professionalism, higher standards and the right motives. To reiterate a point well made by Dj Shock Africa, “whenever you are trying to change something, you have to change it slowly.”

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