Portia Luma is a female force to be reckoned with. This Cape Town based DJ made history by becoming the first female DJ to reach the finals of the Viceroy Makoya Mix DJ Search Competition.

She chats to us about being a young female DJ in South Africa, the trials and challenges along with it and essence of UBOMI:


What was it like being the only young female DJ in the Makoya Mix DJ search competition ft Dj Tira?

It came as a shock when I found out that I had progressed to the regional finals. I literally cried because of all the joy inside of me.

What heightened the moment was being informed that I was also the first female DJ to ever reach that stage of the competition. It is without a doubt one of the highlights of my year and career thus far.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a woman having to DJ in a club?

To be honest I haven’t encountered any major challenges as of yet. I’m always with my road manager wherever I play to make sure everything goes according to plan. The only challenge(s) I have faced is having to adapt to equipment that I am not familiar with e.g, Pioneer CDJ’s are the industry standard when it comes to professional CD players but you do get instances where the brand being used at a certain club is uncommon.

When did you start DJ’ing?

I started messing around with musical equipment around the age of 13, when I co-hosted a radio show at Love Life in Langa. One day, I walked into a broadcasting room of various and complex equipment and that’s when I first thought to myself that I would like to be in such a room on a professional level. Due to school, I had to prioritize education over hobbies until late last year when my partner (who is also a DJ) saw the love of music within me. He suggested I pursue a musical career and that he’d be willing to help polish and develop my skills. For the first time ever I actually understood what DJ’ing was all about and had a mentor that made sure I practiced and spent time perfecting the craft passionately.

Who were your early musical influences?

Early, as well as current influences I can say are DJ’s and producers such as DJ Mizz, DJ Tira, DJ Ganyani, Shimza, Black Coffee, Bee Deejay and DJ Zinhle.

What do you do before preparing for a set?

Before anything else, I start with prayer wherever I go. Most of my time is spent selecting the music I will be playing as this varies from venue to venue according to area, time of day, etc.

What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets?

A bit of preparation (research) mixed with being able to read crowds and adjusting when need be.

When there’s more music than one can possibly take in, it is becoming increasingly hard to know what constitutes an original and a remake anymore. What’s your opinion on the importance of roots, traditions, respecting originals and sources?

In my opinion part of what makes a good record is being able to listen to it years and years after its release. This is when remakes and sampling surface as people take from what sometimes turns out to be timeless music.

How is Portia on stage different to Portia in real life?

Personally I do not think there is much of a difference. The Portia Luma you see on stage is the Portia Luma you get in real life. I suppose the only difference would be that I am more of an introvert when I am not on stage.

Words of encouragement to youngsters who want to pursue this career?

“If the opportunity does not present itself, you need to create your own”. This industry is for people who really have a passion for what they do. You should also be able to brand yourself, be able to knock on doors even if you think they won’t open. Be driven and be willing to try and fail.

What inspired your new single Ubomi?

A lot of things, mostly what we go through in our everyday lives. It is called Ubomi (which translates to ‘Life”) because it tells a story that revolves around a young couple who were crazy in love and had dreams of growing old together but were separated as life and it’s various challenges intervened. It is basically a story that a lot of people can relate to.


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