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DJ & Producer ZEM chops up her style through music and fashion

What do you get when you take a colourful lady with an outer youthful exuberance beneath her years – albeit (and juxtaposingly) with a maturity beyond her years, then have her grow up in the multicultural metropolis of Johannesburg (South Africa)? The answer would likely result in a young lady who has developed a sound taste of the arts and culture, as well as a colourfully well-rounded sense of self expression – especially in the concrete jungles notoriously (maybe even derogatorily) known as “Jo-hazardous-burg”. Our guest today; ZEM – embodies the concept of environmental absorption and mastered the art of expression. One can tell that she is a personified walking-and-talking art display!

ZEM, whose real birth name is Zem Vn , spoke to us about her blossoming DJ career and her doubling-up as a songstress and producer, which is showcased on the song Fuego Matra. We did also speak to her about a number of other things including her impressive sense of fashion, in which the eloquent young lady was only happy to engage in a meaningful conversation with us. 

Please give us a rundown of who ZEM is as an artist and as a person?

Energetic/Dynamic & Free Spirited. Both ways.

How did you discover your love of DJing?

It began when I started going out to clubs and party events. I discovered dancing and would go out just to do that. At the same time I became increasingly interested in Djing and would watch live sets online. I started out watching Black Coffee sets & then made my way onto other artists. I didn’t realise it at the time but that was the beginning. Eventually my thought process synchronised with the envisioning of myself dancing on the dance floor, merged with the one of me behind the music Djing. 

What genres of music do you play as a DJ?

On the Techno side of things I would say a mix between Industrial and Acid Techno with influences from DnB and Trance music. On the other side, Afro-house & variations of House & Dance music.

What has your experience of being a DJ been like so far in the local music industry?

With the experience I have had… Amazing. It’s an amazing outlet for myself and others. It’s something you do because you love it but it’s also something you’re giving away in the process. With that being said, not nearly enough though! I received my DJ Diploma in the late part of 2019 & as we all know lockdown has been crazy. Waiting on things to return to some sort of normal, I have a lot more to offer! Unreserved & compound.

Like many DJs you also produce music. Tell us more about your style of music?

My style of music is honest & expressive. I do what I feel and what I feel led to do at that particular moment in time. Just being myself. Music is diverse & I don’t know which category I fit in. I don’t want to box myself in. There seems to be this notion that you have to fit into a specific category. I may use a certain genre as a base or starting point but I mix it up as I go along. 

What’s your most memorable place/ gig to play at?

My DJ debut at an event in Ferndale, Randburg. The equipment and sound setup was super shifty at the time, the experience was like juggling. I had to take so many different elements into consideration especially in the departments where equipment and sound failed. But in retrospect it was a great way to test out what I had learnt and had been preparing for. Receiving positive feedback from members of the audience and spectators made it all the more worthwhile.

Name any three artists you’d choose to tour with as their DJ.

Amelie Lens, Black Coffee & KAS:ST

Which three artists would you like to work with on a studio production and why?

Locally, J Molley. I like his music style and think he’s one of the best right now in ZA.

Internationally, HYDE & TheGazette. I think they’re hella “woes” (dope), the manner in which they express themselves visually and audibly through and in their music is just tops. I would LOVE to work with a band and learn about the different dynamics that come with that sort of arrangement.

What are your other interests and what do you do to relax?

Other interests – Gaming. Whether or not it relaxes me I haven’t quite figured out yet…But to relax I definitely listen to music or watch stuff, primarily Kdramas, Anime or YouTube.

You have quite a distinct style of fashion. Can you tell us more about your dress sense?

My dress sense/style is a reflection & expression of who I am and what I feel. Sometimes purchasing a new item propels me into a new direction.

Any special mentions you want to shout out?

To all the people who have played a part of or role in my journey thus far, constructive or destructive, thank you. I learnt a lot.