Backstage Mix: Chiedza X El Dorado Festival
In her Backstage Mix, multigenre DJ Chiedza warms up for El Dorado festival. Tune in to get in the mood.
Chiedza has been making waves in Bristol's music scene with her eclectic mixes that blend old-school garage, bass music, and the infectious rhythms of amapiano, gqom, and afro-house.
Promising a set filled with fun, booty-shaking beats at El Dorado festival next weekend, Chiedza joins the Backstage mix series to give us a preview.
Firstly, where is your musical home and why? Could be a festival, club or anywhere!
My musical home is my hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. Whenever I listen to South African music, no matter what genre, my heart warms and my soul feels happy. One song that never fails to make me feel nostalgic is "Vuli Ndela" by Brenda Fassie. I recently found an amapiano remix of this track by Major Lazer and Major League DJz, and I absolutely cannot wait to play it out.
Do you feel compelled to explore South Africa sonically, having been born there?
I always knew that I felt spiritually connected to South African music, and I had heard of amapiano. But I didn't feel called to explore that part of the world in my mixes – until I visited South Africa in May 2022.
Amapiano has grown exponentially over the last few years. During my most recent visit to South Africa, I heard amapiano everywhere – at home with my family, in clubs, bars, restaurants, and on the street during a sunny day. My cousin and I would spend afternoons chilling with amapiano balcony mixes on YouTube. I fell in love with the genre, and it was at that moment that I knew I wanted to bring it back home with me. I was constantly Shazam-ing songs throughout my trip and felt excited to get back to the UK and mix these new tunes together.
Can you describe your evolution as an artist? How does the music you play now compare to your earlier mixes?
I started off mixing purely old-school garage. Growing up in the early 2000s in Southampton, which is the home of several garage acts such as Craig David and Artful Dodger, I felt called to replicate the garage sound that I had heard at house parties and clubs in my teens. I love how music can instill a sense of collective nostalgia, transporting an entire room to a point in time where we felt young and free.
As I became more comfortable behind the decks, I found a desire to experiment with other varieties of bass music. I soon became quite influenced by the New UKG wave that artists such as Conducta, Bakey, and Interplanetary Criminal have pioneered. My mixes were quite varied at this stage, from the skippy, bubbly garage sound to heavier basslines and rugged MC vocals.
My early mixes were inspired by the underground sounds I had heard in clubs in Southampton, East London, and Bristol. However, I have always described myself as having an eclectic taste and felt the urge to experiment with something different. More recently, my mixes have been centered around amapiano, gqom, and afro-house.
Do you feel as though you're part of an active music community in Bristol? Tell us about it.
My involvement in Bristol's music community began several years ago when I started working behind the bar at Motion, which is one of Bristol's most famous nightclubs. Working at Motion was the catalyst for my involvement in Bristol's nightlife scene as I got to watch incredible DJs and musicians perform several nights a week.
A few years later, I became involved with a Bristol radio station, where I interviewed up-and-coming musicians on a weekly basis. I then went on to do Saffon's MixNights course and became even more immersed in the nightlife scene as I began gigging.
What is one thing about Bristol's nightlife that makes it distinctly Bristol?
I just love quirky Bristol things like Turbo Island, which, surprise surprise, is back on fire.
How is your festival season shaping up? What have you done so far? What's coming up?
I'm really excited for this festival season as it's the first time that I have lots of events coming up! So far, I have played at Stroud Jazz Festival and Love Saves the Day.
Still to come is Nowadaze - a new festival in Yate, Bristol, El Dorado, and Shambala.
You're gigging more and more, how do you hold an audience during a performance?
Responding to the audience is key. When I first began DJing, I was very nervous and would rarely look up from the decks. I would plan each setlist to a T and would not want to change anything for fear of things going horribly wrong. But as I began to play out more, I have become more confident and find it's important to respond to how the crowd is feeling and to know when you might need to switch it up a bit!
What can we expect from your set at El Dorado?
Lots of fun, booty-shaking, bass-rattling, skippy happy garage!
Any other acts you're excited to catch at El Dorado?
Conducta – a true pioneer of the NUKG wave, Eva Lazarus – a Bristol legend, Mall Grab, Y U QT, and Smokey Bubblin B.
Finally, tell us about the mix you've recorded for Pirate?
The mix I recorded for Pirate takes you on a journey, from chilled UKG to heavier bassline edits.
When recording the mix, I had in mind the duality of day parties/festivals, where you start off quite chill and as you party on in the day, things get a little darker, a little heavier, and more energetic. In the mix, you can expect to hear UKG, Grime, Bassline, and lots of great bassy remixes!