Obianuju Catherine Udeh, professionally known as DJ Switch, is a DJ, songwriter and musician who emerged as the winner of the first edition of The Glo X Factor in 2013. Kicking off with her love for music as a child, she has grown to become a successful musician. Dj Switch talks to Tosin Clegg about her journey, successes, becoming a global brand and her future plans
My childhood dreams
I wrote ‘superstar’ in our class slambook and didn’t even remember. I looked up to Michael Jackson a lot. I was fascinated by him and his talent, I would sing his songs and try to dance like him, and as time passed, I discovered my own talents and as soon as I was old enough, I started moving towards my dream. Like I said, thankfully my family supported that movement even down to giving me money to travel, all in pursuit of this music. And so I entered the Star Quest competition back then where we formed the band, “The Pulse” and we won, releasing a smash hit single titled “Pray Sote”. It was so huge that we did a remix with the iconic “Busta Rhymes”, thanks to Nigerian Breweries, Star! After a while chasing the music, working with Kennis Music, we all eventually parted ways and I went on to participate in the first X-FACTOR West Africa and I won that also. These were amazing experiences for me that have also shaped who I am today.
Music is an expression
It is how you say what is on your mind, how you feel, are you in love? Pain? Happy? Simply an expression which also speaks to people, uplifts people, or shines a light on one’s sadness or heartbreak, joy etc. Music is an expression! Good music to me must say something, anything, it doesn’t matter. But music must say something that one can understand and the listener must hear something. Whatever is said that appeals to them. What I despise is nonsense, music that has no meaning, says nothing just a mumbo jumbo of words just because someone wants to blow or trend, says complete rubbish, and in turn the listener hears nothing, feels nothing. The music appeals to nothing but sheer fluff. That is the type of music I do not like at all. Other than that I love all types of music, urban sound, jazz and old school to be precise but all music.
I’ve been fascinated by music and the manipulation of music
Once, my former band, The Pulse, and I recorded a song and I kept hearing scratch sounds in my head, so I told the boys that we have to have some scratch effects on the song because it was something I did with my mouth on stage even without a single knowledge of how DJs do it. We went to a DJ we knew then, DJ Snoop Da Damager, and told him what we wanted. The minute he did it and I heard the sounds and how the track was manipulated, I knew that was it! I wanted to be able to do that. From that day, I sought to get funds, emptied my account to get my first DJ gear and equipment, plus I have big eye, so I went for the best at the time. One thing I am grateful for is that I am self-taught, nothing wrong with being mentored or anything, but look at the quality of DJ that I am today. I am happy I am self-taught. The real culture of Dj-aying is yet to be explored here and thankfully, I watched the best in the world then and watched how they played, why they played the way they did, how they “play with music”, all the tricks and skills. I wanted that and so I started teaching myself to approach manipulating records much differently. Today, that has been rewarded; I have been selected as a finalist for the “Redbull 3style World Championship”. This is equivalent to the Grammy’s for DJs.120 DJs in the world I have been selected to compete at a global championship! It’s a huge deal and I look forward to representing Nigeria in Russia come April 2020.
You know how they say “work hard… Work hard… Work hard!!! If you want to be successful, work hard! Do this type of job or that type! I’ve never believed that. What I know from experience especially is that one should “work joyfully” do what you love and then everything else will come as a result of that. I don’t work to make people know me, I just work! I just enjoy showing people my craft, my talent! My love for music and the money, fame all just come after me. So I have seen rewards I didn’t even ask for, recognition that I didn’t ask for simply because I’m a DJ and that is how I know it is one path of my musical journey.
My personality is a mask, I can adapt to any situation
I can switch characters at any time. My music switches; go to any genre and I will give you great music. My talents are many and so I switch between them quite easily when performing. There is no better name for me. Growing up, I would be talking and next thing I’m singing, in the same breath I would start rapping so fast or get into a comedic mode. Switching on people I converse with, they always found it entertaining. How I manipulate records while Dj-aying is very unique to me, I hype my own party and MC my own set. There is no better name for me. The message I can use my voice to share everywhere is ‘you are unlimited.’ We have the potential to be anything they say, and that should tell you that you are unlimited. Everything is within you! So do not be afraid to try anything, be anything, and do anything. When you step out, show out! When necessary, switch on them. Give what is needed when needed. Never say to yourself, ‘I’m not right for something.’ Test yourself and know for sure, it will surprise you how much you are capable of, but you won’t know until you try! So, make a switch today!
My way of playing is something you have to experience
For the first time, I played on a huge platform, the Big Brother Naija platform. It was me and a few housemates. And at this point I wasn’t thinking of anyone outside the people I could see, when I came out it was mayhem! My phone rang till it died and I was thinking wow what happened, but the comments and trending that day and days after that were unbelievable. I get lost in what I do because I love it so much, my aim is to take you with me as I get lost. I am a performer! So, it’s not something I can really explain. I was honoured also to be featured on CNN where the crew had to follow me to a few events because I could not explain in words where I am mentally on stage, and how I perform. That was a milestone as well and it’s to be seen around the globe as my talent and nothing else.
Music is life
Music is the only thing I know of that can evoke emotions that don’t have a name yet. I’m grateful I play music to be able to take people on all sorts of trips. It is the most beautiful thing, Good music is great food and great music is simply life! Music is great for the mind as it can challenge your mind or rest it. Depends on the type of music you listen to.
One project very special to me is the ‘Switch It Up’ tour. To completely introduce a new way of having a concert and entertaining people, I’ve tested out my “secret” format on a few international stages and it has blown people away. So, soon as I can get all my sponsors, I will kick it off. It’s a very special project for me, as a matter of fact, that will be the highlight of my career. My music (artiste side) is also on showcase, and my newest single titled “My Vibe” which just dropped a few days ago is doing very well. It speaks to a divide in class, but it’s delivered in a very African way and is enjoyable as well.
My role models and mentors
Fela, rest his soul. Michael Jackson, rest his soul. Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Wizkid, Mr. P, Davido, ASA, Tracy Chapman, 2face Idibia, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Q-bert, DJ Angelo, Grand Master Flash, BeatJunkies, DJ TLM.