It is improbable to leave Wandat out of the conversation when scanning the industry for the most exciting deejays. His style pays homage to the innovative spirit of the Kenyan House music community. It embodies the essence of the many great artists of the scene from the past, present and future. Born Wandati Achoki, the 27-year-old disk jockey from Rironi, Limuru, is carving out his own lane in the scene. He pushes his limits to what has proved to be a personal standout among the buzzing talents in town.
Popping up in some of our favourite events, Wandat’s latest gigs have him on a hot streak. “I began out as a manager and only picked up deejaying around January 2020. Friends who could see it pushed till I took it up.” For someone who has been doing this for less than 2 years, he is on the steady lane of becoming a star.
Sound Safari caught up with the budding star a few weeks back. Our conversation, edited for content and clarity, follows as below.
With Wandat, you can expect some genuine candour even when it doesn’t paint him necessarily well. “I started by managing DJ IV… didn’t do shit though cause the people who were to give me gigs didn’t see them through. I still meet some of those people – some don’t even know that I already transitioned from that.” Nonetheless, his short stint as a manager, though unsuccessful, pushed him into the direction of deejaying. With a few classes, both tutored and self-taught, Wandat began his new trip.
Great success has found Wandat so early in his career, and everything is going for him. His mix series, WANDANCE, first appeared on Mixcloud six months ago. “I can now see and appreciate my growth. People jamming to my sets from start to finish is a blessing,” he tells Sound Safari. When many young artists near their pinnacle so early, it is not unusual for them to get caught up in the hustle and grind.
The prodigies don’t stop to reflect on the extent of their work. “Don’t try and save the Kenyan music industry, do what you can. There’s no one specific Kenyan sound and that’s one of the reasons we import more talent than export,” he quips as Amapiano plays in the background. Wandat believes in the power of reaping what you sow. “All you have to do is give it 100, and it comes back. While you can buy your way in, it’s the work you put in that keeps you there.”
Kenya House Music
However, he remains cognizant of the fact that you are bound to encounter challenges despite the work you put in. “You really have to be good at detecting bullshit. Your patience will be tested a lot,” noting that the systems don’t work for everyone. Among the many challenges is the lack of inclusivity and diversity in the bookings. To this, he admits that there have been efforts to improve the situation, but we still have a journey ahead. “I am thinking, working toward building my own concerts where everyone is invited to play. It’s coming.” It is this ambitious spirit that has seen the Kenyan House community grow exponentially in the last 10 years.
“Noise on Demand (N.O.D) really changed how I experienced music,” Wandat says enthusiastically. “Their parties, music, delivery and everything were so professional.” It is these experiences that seem pivotal to Wandat’s growth. Big Nyagz, Foozak, DJ IV, Dylan-S, Polaris, Euggy, Suraj and many more artists are mentioned when we talk about the people moving the machine. “Nairobi DJs are rockstars. Afula is the most technical deejay I know, Onedown is the most honest deejay I know – he will tell you the truth na atakuonea njia. Every DJ should have a conversation with him.”
Make and release music
The competition right now, Wandat expresses, is healthy as it brings out the best in artists. It makes sets more enjoyable as people have to really go back to crate-digging. “It all starts with the music. If you have the know-how to make the music, do it and share.” He confesses he low-key feels bad to play more international music than Kenyan ones. Nonetheless, he slots in whatever is available – even if it’s from a limited pool of artists. To this, he mentions that he is working on an EP with a hopeful release date in the first quarter of 2022.
As we wrap up, Wandat reveals that his calendar is almost fully booked to December 2021 – with a few filler slots remaining. He is up next, a star you should watch out for.