There is no formula to success with Reverb 7

The music is the industry is shunned by most people in our communities labeled zvechirombe , but that did not deter a lawyer who is living his passion as a music artist, producer, and Dj born John Mahalu known by his moniker name Reverb 7

Studying law and go with your passion how did people respond to that?

At first, people didn’t understand. But eventually, I think everyone came to terms with me following my passion. It also helped that I was able to make a career of making music and performing. I thank God for that.

How house music spoke to you and made you the creator you’re today?

When I initially started producing, I was really into hip hop. I wasn’t great at it, as I was still learning the ropes. One day I just happened to come across DJ Kent’s album, I Can’t Survive, and that changed me. The sound, the vocals and the way one song seamlessly mixed into the next, it really inspired me. So I decided to focus on house music after hearing that album. I would still play a lot of hip hop, dancehall, rnb and afropop when I was DJing, so I think my familiarity with those genres made me comfortable enough to produce other tracks that weren’t house music. But house always had, and still has my heart.

Working with Andy Brown early in your career and what lessons did you draw out?

I couldn’t believe that a popular icon like Andy Brown would agree to work with an unproven, upcoming artist like me. He was very down to earth, accommodating, and always ready to laugh. We only had one studio session with him, but in that session, I saw the essence of a true artist. He took his craft seriously. I learnedJohn Mahalu to respect my art from watching him work.

Being a breaking through Dj in 2011, how was the club setting like?

The club scene in 2011 was very different from the one we know of today. Clubs already had their fixed DJs and promoters, and each night would have its own specific clientele. I was one of the few DJ’s (at that time) who was DJing straight off a laptop. No controller, I never touched CD players. So initially there was a lot of resistance from the already established DJs. They would play off CDJs, and I always respected that. They would also play songs from the beginning and then mix in the next song just before it finished. I, with the help of Virtual DJ, would switch between songs much faster. The crowds would react differently, some hated it, some loved it. I consider myself lucky to have been able to even get the opportunity to play and learn the art. I’m super grateful to DJ Naida, she took me under her wing and would hook me up with gigs to play at. We’ve gone from strength to strength, and evolved with the club scene,

Diversifying your music catalog as Producer and Artist?

My catalogue is growing. This COVID-19 pandemic has given me time to work on my brand, my craft and my direction as a producer and artist. I think it’s important for any artist to push their brand in as many avenues as possible, as long as their identity remains intact. I currently cannot reveal what is coming up, but I am excited.

Five artist you wish to work with and you’re certain it will be a monster?

I would love to work with Lizwi from SA, Wizkid, Msiz’kay, Bucie, and Courtney Rusike (Again)

Getting to do Soundtracks for movies do these sync deals pay more or how does one get them if don’t mind?

Firstly, you need a very good and relevant product. And then you need to have a very good publisher. There is a lot of good money to be made by working on soundtracks for movies and video games. The initial payment can be substantial, but there are also royalties which you can collect after that. I think producers like Young DLC, Mr. Kamera, Simba Tagz, Chiweddar, etc have the versatility to do great scores and background music. But if you are a young producer and would like to start providing audio services for production houses, you can check out www.songtradr.com.

Being on the radio and the afro house mixes?

Being on the radio is a massive blessing for a lover of music like me. I get to express myself through the music I play. I get to introduce the listeners to new music from local and regional artists. I feel like it’s my small contribution to the promotion of the genre. I love being on air. I’m happy I have the opportunity to do so.

The secret of your success story and the impotence of residence for a Dj?

God has blessed me. I cannot stress that enough. I can’t say it’s my talent that has opened doors for me. I’ve been in the right place at the right time. I wish I could say that there is a formula for success. All I can say is keep working on your craft, and be ready when you are finally given an opportunity.

In terms of being a resident DJ, I think every DJ needs to experience this. You learn important traits like, how to read a crowd, when (and when not to) play certain songs, understanding and respecting the role you are playing (whether prime time, or you are starting the night), dealing with requests and networking. It’s also good to have a slot where you are playing consistently, its great practice.

Two things you feel are how backward the Zim Music Industry?

  1. The industry cannot run on favours or “exposure”. Artists need to be paid their worth.
  2. We need to introduce standards and ethics. We currently have none.

How important is it to business survey as an artist in this age?

I think it is always important to look at pros and cons before you make any moves. As an artist, there are no guarantees that anything will work out, but it’s always worth it to know how your plans could succeed or fail, and plan accordingly.

Legal lessons learned from the Industry so far?

Contracts are a VERY important. We tend to do a lot of informal work or favours. But I think it’s good for us to just have everything written down. Important aspects are intellectual property, splits and rights. Discuss these and come to an agreement before doing any work, even if there is no money involved in that moment.

The corporate world also takes advantage of the arts, and many times the artists should be paid. Make sure you know your rights, and copyright everything if you can.

on the decks Reverb 7

Advice to a younger Dj and producer on the come-up?

There is no formula for success. You have to find your identity and stick to it. Be flexible, move with the times and trends, but always make sure your identity stays the same. There are many gate keepers in the music and entertainment industry, try by all means to work with them. If that doesn’t work, create your own platforms and followings. Remember, it’s a journey, so every single step you take will help you reach your goal. It will take time. Be patient but stay ready.

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