Photo of Mista King Size bending down and operating a Native Instruments DJ Controller
Perception

Perception: Mista King Size

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Perception is central to our understanding of the theory of knowledge, epistemology. In this new Sound Safari knowledge-gathering series on Kenyan electronic music artists, the stories are told from the first-person perspective. In a free-flow conversation, the artist grounds us in how they see, hear, smell, taste and experience the world around them. While a single article might not cover the breadth of an artistic project/work, it is an exclusive invitation into personal stories. Perception presents the possibility of giving an account of the mind as a part of the literal world.

For our first presentation, Roy Omingo gives his Perception. Popularly known as Mista King Size, he knows his music selection back to front. It’s been a fluid journey, a series of breakthroughs and positive peer pressure that imbues his music with expertise, counterbalanced by an equally jarring sense of self-awareness.

Mista King Size is building something different. As his career props up, you see the streamlining of performances. For him, it is all about music taste and selection. A deejay for less than 3 years, Mista King Size has been building his crates for close to a decade. Deejaying feels less new and more like a homecoming triumph parade.

Photo of Mista King Size bending down and operating a Native Instruments DJ Controller

Mr King Size: Let’s start at the beginning. I’ve always had an eclectic taste, different eras and genres but it all circles around Hip Hop. Around 2000 I was into Hip Hop and RnB which was heavily influenced by my relative. After she moved out I got into Rock and Roll which we jammed to with all the teen angst. Which bands are you listening to at this time? My playlist was full of Three Doors Down, Three Day Grace, Breaking Benjamin, Flyleaf among others.  Eventually, this turns into a business and we start burning CDs for sale in school.

My first experience with electronic music comes in 2008 after I had just cleared high school. Dubstep was just coming up in the mainstream and a dubstep remix for The Eminem Show came out and I was like, “Okay, there’s something here.” I start getting invested in electronic music in my second year on campus: at Strathmore University (Bsc. BCOM, Finance Major). DJ UV and DJ Protégé were doing their thing on Capital and it was proper Progressive House. This got me into acts like Deadmau5 and I eventually stumbled upon BBC Essential Mix. I wasn’t too keen on following the mix series until I listened to Matzo’s set for Trance Around The World, episode 400 live from Beirut. During the same period, Arty released his Essential Mix. I jammed to those mixes back to back for months. 

As every fan of House music at the time, my goal was to attend Tomorrowland. A friend made it known to me that similar events were happening here. I asked which but he relented he would only tell if we could attend. This is how I attended my first electronic music gig the same day I was made aware: Sunglasses At Night. This was in 2012 and Daryn Epsilon was headlining, what an introduction to the scene. Unfortunately, we had pre-gamed too much and I can’t remember much from that night. What I can remember vividly is that “Million Voices” by Otto Knows was played. This track led me into a rabbit hole for more diverse electronic music genres.

Mista King Size: I always have the aux at house parties and people would always ask me to share the tracklist. When my folks go upcountry, my dad would ask me to copy him some jams for the long drive. In 2019, we were at a house party and the decks weren’t working: I took the aux and started playing from my Spotify where I had more than 200 tracks. Rabudi was present at the party and he encouraged me to start deejaying after hearing my selection. However, I shelved the idea at the time but continued collecting music.

I would later see Euggy and Vidza play sets at Captain’s Terrace for Gondwana and that’s when I took a keen interest in deejaying. I wanted to do what they were doing up there. Fast forward to April 2020 when the pandemic hits proper and everyone is locked in, I borrowed controllers from Kraal. We would jam with my younger brother, Leon Omingo. He was already skilful on the controller and I on the other hand wasn’t that good. Onedown who took me through blending and Brian Kadawa who took me through beatmatching. Fortunately enough, I got Mtu Tisa as my practice partner shortly after and we sparred daily after work.

My first official booking as a DJ comes as a bit of a surprise in September 2020. I logged onto the HouseHeads Whatsapp group to see Onedown had an event with MGM. The message further said that Roy Omingo was doing the opening set but I didn’t have a heads up on it. Onedown wanted to see me perform and he pushed me out there because I hesitated a lot. “Sawa, I can’t pull out now ashanianika kwa group.” I went for a soundcheck and everything was okay. Fifteen minutes to my set, a cable gives out and I had a mini panic. Luckily, Onedown was there and gave me a quick rundown of operating CDJ players. Of course, I had two or three bad transitions. What saves me when I have bad days is my selection.

Music has always been central to me. I have built my crates since 2012- it’s a guaranteed music journey with me. Furthermore, I listen to a lot of music in my delivery runs for my restaurant, Kalunj. Listening to other DJs is also important as you can learn a thing or two from them. I filter my sets knowing that if I have a room of about ten people at least three will jam. My go-to tracks include “Swimming Places” by Julien Jabre, XtetiQSoul “Anointed”, and “Soul” by Marsh. Lane 8 fits anytime perfectly.

The weirdest thing I’ve encountered while deejaying is adamant requesters. Some people will even bring the manager over and request through them some weird vibe song. Luckily, the managers and promoters I’ve worked with have always trusted me with the music. Isn’t it lazy to want to listen to the same music that you have on your phone in the club? This is why I prefer playing opening or sunrise sets as people are calmer at that time.

My most memorable and enjoyable night as a DJ happened last year. Max Theuri was playing at Captain’s Terrace. I rushed for my flash and came back for a back-to-back set with Afronaut. It was cool vibes but we had to leave after hours. We went to XS where the DJ happened to play House music, Gqnom and Afro Tech. That guy went crazy but he also had to shut down as it was almost sunrise. My gang still wanted more oonts and we decided to pick decks and keep the party going – this is about 8 am. We set up a house party and four deejays kept the party going until midnight. Things are only getting started and every day is a learning experience.

Perception Issue #1: Edited for content and clarity.

djfita

DJ Fita is a Kenyan DJ, music producer and music journalist. He is the founder of Sound Safari.

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