Palesa Desiree Shilabje is making a name for herself as a Deep House DJ and is one of the DJ's billed to play at the Bernini Surreal Electronica sessions in August. Born and raised in Midrand, Johannesburg, DJ Desiree has had a deep love for all things fashion and music, for as long as she can remember. When she is not in front of the camera or strutting down fashion runways, she is behind the decks spinning deep-tech and afro-house beats at a shisa nyama, a corporate gig, house party and in the clubs.
‘’I always wished I could play an instrument or sing, that’s how much I love music.' The 23-year-old Wits graduate listened to various genres growing up, but was mostly drawn to alternative rock. ‘I was always the first to play unknown tracks to peers and friends,’ she explains.
An ardent Radiohead fan, DJ Desiree was exposed to a lot of underground house music at fashion shows. However, it is deep-tech and afro-house that fuels her soul. ‘This is the genre I want to be associated with, it makes me happy and I believe this translates to your audience/the crowd which helps create a connection and a name for yourself.’
Here are some interesting facts about DJ Desiree:
Inspiration and training
Desiree is mostly self-taught and aligned herself with industry friends and more established DJs to get tips and tricks of the trade. She also attended a workshop facilitated by DJ and producer, Bokkie Ult which helped sharpen her technical skills. ‘There are commercial DJ’s who are mainly hype DJ’s playing commercial stuff, then there are producer DJ’s such as Black Coffee, Culoe De Song.’ My ultimate ambition is to be a renowned female producer DJ in Africa and the world.' Her greatest inspirations are DJ Buhle and her all-time favourite is DJ De Capo. She is also has great admiration for Soweto-based trio, Deep Cuba.
Head and shoulders above the rest
Standing at a statuesque 1,86 metres tall, it's not hard to miss this beauty who is also signed with Isis Modelling agency. She recently opened for fashion designer Mmuso Maxwell at SA Fashion Week a few months ago.
Beauty and Brains
She matriculated from Midrand High with four distinctions and was awarded a scholarship to study for a BCom (PPE) Politics, Philosophy and Economics, at the University of the Witwatersrand. ‘I have always been an academic and very involved in various activities and causes in school, but also have this super creative side. I considered being an economist or a Diplomat working for the UN, and maybe going back to school to study further, but I’m loving where I am right now with the music and modelling and want to give it my all.’
‘There aren’t enough female DJ’s in the deep house scene. I kept asking why there are no female deep-house DJ’s. This also fuelled my desire to pursue this wholeheartedly and show that we got this to too.’
All-time favourite house track
Ralf Gum – All this love for you (Rocco Mix)
Her advice to aspiring female DJ’s
Be true to yourself. Stick to your genre and be consistent and super dope at it. This is how you make a name for yourself. Network, interact with more established DJ’s on social media, ask them questions, tips and advice.