Today we have the pleasure to introduce one of Edmonton's finest African DJs, a man that has been working both on the dance floor and in the community for over a decade in Edmonton - DJ SQ! This is a man who is passionate about his community, proud of his heritage and empowered by the youth he mentors.
He is a man on a mission whether it is spinning beats at the turntable or inspiring those around him. You can see more of him at Ribbon Rouge #8 this November 28th, 2015 at the ATB Arts Barn. Below is our interview with him where he discusses his profound love of music, the inspiring women around him and his own style as a DJ!
Ribbon Rouge: Who are you? Tell us a little bit about yourself and your history/ what you think is important about who you are?
DJ SQ: My name is Siyani Nsaliwa (DJ SQ). I was born and raised in Malawi , Africa, but I have called Edmonton home for over 20 years now. I am a community activist - from my time as a student at the University where I led a community oriented student group to my current position as president of the Council of Canadians of African and Caribbean Heritage (CCACH) I have enjoyed working with people in my community. Even in my work as a DJ it is an opportunity for me to bring together diverse groups of people through my passion for music.
I especially enjoy working with the youth in my community: I tutored every Saturday at CCACH’s tutoring program for about 12 years which was a very rewarding experience; As president of CCACH I also oversee AfroQuiz, which is an annual quiz competition aimed at educating the youth in our community about the history and achievements on people of African and Caribbean descent. I have also worked with a youth leadership academy in the city which used arts to teach the youth about leadership. Currently I am enjoying coaching my daughter’s soccer team – soccer is another one of my passions.
RR: What do you stand for?
DJ SQ: I stand for a lot of things: Respect, Education, Justice and Equality have motivated me to get involved in some of my community work. As a DJ, I will stand/fight for your right to party! #BeastieBoys.
RR: Our theme this year is QUEEN! It is an ode to powerful women who have positively influenced us by their lives. What does this mean to you?
DJ SQ: It means I get to celebrate a lot of the women who have influenced and continue to influence me in my life. I have thought about how I can play my part (pun intended) as this year’s DJ in celebrating this year’s theme at Ribbon Rouge and I decided that I will dedicate a whole segment of my set to playing music by women who have made a huge impact on society through their music – from Miriam Makeba to Alicia Keys – and I hope people will appreciate it.
RR: How do you feel about femininity/ womanhood/ the state of affairs of women’s rights in our country?
DJ SQ: I have an 8 year old daughter and although prior to that equality for women was always something I strived for, it has since become a passion for me. I am a feminist and I think we should all be as it was so eloquently put in Chimamanda Ngozi Odichie’s famous YouTube video/essay.
I am glad that our new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, is a self-declared feminist and I love the commitment to have a cabinet which will be split equally between the sexes. I think it is important not just as a statement but as a direction that the country should follow. I like being positive and so I think we are making some good progress to that end; However, just like the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the U.S is bringing a certain level of consciousness to the state of black lives in the US - and to some level in Canada #CardingIssue - I think there should also be a #FeminismMatters movement. I think the identity of a feminist has changed over time and the term is often misunderstood - I think that needs to be discussed.
RR: Who is your Queen (inspiration)? Why?
DJ SQ: I am constantly inspired by everyday women: my wife inspires me with her sense of independence; my mother for her community work and spirituality; my 8 year old daughter for her quick wit; and plenty of women I encounter as part of my family, friends, co-workers and just in life.
RR: Tell us about your art?
DJ SQ: I have been a DJ since 2010 when I DJ’d at my first club event with my boy, Q (the Q in DJ SQ - quick shout out to LZ Entertainment who gave us our first exposure at that level). At the time we focused on contemporary “afrocentric” music – which is to say new music originating from Africa, such as Afrobeats and South African House because we felt the music needed to be spotlighted in trendy night clubs of Edmonton in the same way Soca made its way to the spotlight in the 90s with the Baby Blue Sound Crew from Toronto.
Because of my passion for music, I have since diversified my playlist to include different music genres – I customize the music to the preferred taste of the audience at weddings, private parties and corporate events.
RR: What does it mean to you?
DJ SQ: Music, as they say, is a universal language and I feel like I have an ear for it. I had to learn - and still do - how to interpret that language into what will make you want to move on the dance floor. As a DJ, I find that transfer of energy to be almost addictive and I enjoy communicating with the audience in that way.
RR: Your advice to women?
DJ SQ: This is a very humbling question to me because I don't feel like I am in any privileged position to give advice to women in general. I am actually picturing giving advice to my mother right now and I am drawing blanks! But I will say that I have a commitment to learning and I will always do my part as a feminist to learn from and teach when individual circumstances call for my advice.
RR: What does Ribbon Rouge mean to you?
DJ SQ: I have always admired what Ribbon Rouge stands – using fashion and the arts to spread a social message - similar to what I aim to do with my DJ “activism”. I also have great respect and admiration for the Founder of Ribbon Rouge and how hard she works for her community; she is definitely one of those everyday women who inspire me. I am very grateful to Ribbon Rouge for giving me the opportunity to move the crowd at this year’s event.
RR: Where can we find you/ more of your work?
DJ SQ: The last Friday of every month ( October 30 for this month) you can catch me spinning Afrobeats and other contemporary “Afrocentric” music at Cha Island on 10332 81 Ave. I also post mixtapes at www.soundcloud.com/siyani
Otherwise, you can book me for a wedding, private party or cooperate event by calling or texting 780 716 3859 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
DJ SQ will be working the dance floor and spinning his slick beats on Nov. 28th, 2015 at Ribbon Rouge in Edmonton! www.ribbonrouge.com.
And don’t forget to buy tickets for Ribbon Rouge 2015! Tickets can be purchased online here.
Ribbon Rouge #8
When: November 28, 2015 Doors open at 6pm; Show at 7pm
Where: ATB Financial Arts Barns