Adillah “Adillxh” (aka The Unicorn), was born in Bloemfontein and is a full-time DJ who plays mostly Electronic, Future Beats, Neo-Funk and Neo-Groove jams. She broke through the industry by winning a talent search competition hosted by an international beverage brand. Adillxh also believes that whenever you get the chance to play as a DJ, you must play with your entire heart and you must come prepared & come ready to rock as you will never know who is listening and what they could do for you or your career.
When did Adillxh realize that she wanted to become a DJ?
ADILLAH: Growing up, I always had a passion for music, it was not until I started varsity and started going out, when I realized that I could be a DJ. Seeing other DJs inspired me to do more than just listen to music as a consumer. I also just always knew which song the DJ was mixing in next and this just affirmed my belief that I could take up DJing as a hobby. After I got comfortable and played my first gig and saw the crowd’s reaction, I started contemplating the idea of DJing professionally.
We would like to talk about the challenges you faced or currently facing as a DJ because us as spectators tend to only see the good stuff and just celebrate when things are looking amazing for our DJ’s so what sort of challenges did you face when you were coming up, perhaps a young kid or fan of yours reaches out or reads this interview and gets inspired by challenges you came across in your career and some challenges that still continue today that build you up?
ADILLAH: One aspect of the creative industry that people do not shed enough light on, is mental health. I struggle with social anxiety, which can create a disconnect from myself and the audience because it can come across as a general lack of enthusiasm. It is something that I consciously work on with each and every gig because I want people to know that I do enjoy playing for them and that we’re together in the same space (If you’re on a plane, you need to be able to trust the pilot in order to enjoy the journey). I want to be able to enjoy myself and as a result of that, have the audience enjoy my sets as well. When you work in public spaces, people tend forget that there are human elements to you, you know. So, it is our job as entertainers to work past anxiety and ensure that people are exactly that – entertained.
To anyone who wants to create, but battles any sort of mental health issue, I would say to keep creating. To fight through the feelings that try to block you from being the best version of yourself. You need to continuously encourage yourself to put yourself out there and pursue your dreams.
Would you say the subject matter changes in terms of your song selection for your sets as you discover new sounds, or does it stay the same with whatever approach that you have for your DJ sets?
ADILLAH: I have been dubbed an “open format DJ”, which translates as being genre fluid or being able to play across genres. I am always super conscious of the songs that I prepare for a set because one of my superpowers is being able to read a crowd. I believe that you need to be flexible enough to play anywhere and give the people listening to you a very tailored experience. I do strive to maintain a certain style which is uniform across my sets to ensure that consumers do get the Adillxh experience 🙂
To those that follow you already know that you are a resident DJ at ‘Niks Bar’, how did that relationship come about and how would advise aspiring DJ’s out there that would like to find a venue on where they would like to become Resident DJ’s as well?
ADILLAH: YOU NEVER KNOW WHO IS LISTENING!! When we found out that Joburg was going to be the home of the first non-alcoholic bar in SA, I wanted to be a
part of that. What pushed me more to join in on the initiative was that it was an NGO run by fellow women in the industry to support creatives during lockdown. I knew I wanted to use the platform I had already built for myself, to assist with this cause. When we approached Niks, they already knew who I was because one of the ladies behind the initiative had already heard me play at another gig!
It is SO important to play your heart out at each gig because your next client might be there!! Secondly, I always encourage my peers in the industry to put themselves out there, if you believe that you are a good fit for that venue, send them an EPK, a link to a mix, take yourself to the river because the river definitely won’t come to you.
How has lockdown affected your profession as a DJ and how have you remained positive throughout this difficult time to keep going?
ADILLAH: The most beautiful part of lockdown is that it has given me so much time to work on myself as a person and a brand. It allowed me to find my primary sound (Neo-funk, Neo-groove, electronic & future beats). It gave me time to map out what it is I wanted for myself and my career. Unfortunately, due to the restrictions that were placed on the entertainment industry, it was difficult to gig and get myself out there but I was very blessed to be given opportunities on television and radio, which allowed me to still work during the period.
What kept me going was not looking at lockdown as a setback but as a reset. It was a blessing in disguise which allowed me to come back stronger once restrictions started to ease up. Envisioning my future really helped to set things into motion.
What should the people expect from Adillxh for the rest of 2020?
ADILLAH: I have so many projects on the way!! People should expect me to participate and curating more events and initiatives meant to empower Women across the board. More initiatives partnered with the LGBT+ community, more fire sets and a lot more content that transcends the music space, from me. In 2020, I want to use my voice to inspire more of the youth and let them know that there are opportunities in the art space.
How would you breakdown the “mood” for the mix you played for Sportscene Radio to those that were not there to experience it live?
ADILLAH: I used to work at Sportscene as a Sales Assistant when I finished matric! Having that experience and being aware of what the Sportscene fam likes, I knew that I wanted to curate a set that was extremely energetic, fun and predominantly South African.
What did Adillxh enjoy most about her Sportscene Radio experience?
ADILLAH: Playing for Sportscene Radio was such a new experience for me. It was amazing knowing that my mix was live streamed across all the stores. It is something that I have never done before and the staff were so friendly, and just seeing fellow Sportscene fam, shopping and enjoying the music that I was playing really warmed my heart. It was an amazing opportunity and just thinking about it makes me want to relive the entire experience again.
Follow DJ Adillxh on Instagram @adillxh.
Images by @Zeetakesnicepictures.