Gina Jeanz, a cut above the rest
By Rosalia David
MULTI-talented music producer, graphic designer and DJ, Gina Mwooombola Sow, better known as Gina Jeanz(GJ), is one of a few female Dj’s who continue to raise the bar for Namibian music through hard work and consistency.
Confidente’s Rosalia David (RD)had a chat with the Cape Town-based artist to catch up on the latest in her musical career.
RD: Kindly give us a brief background on your musical career? When and how exactly did the music bug bite you?
GJ:My love for music really stemmed from playing the violin. I learned to understand music theory and read music notes. It was fascinating to me that people could do this, I was so intrigued that I eventually started to experiment and learn to compose my own songs, the background in playing an instrument really helped and I had the support of a mentor who showed me how to use a digital audio workstation. As soon as I figured it out, I never looked back.
RD: You are one out of a few Namibian female DJs – if not the only one – who continues to carry the Namibian flag high on international ground, such as South Africa, what is the secret?
GJ: For me, I’ve found that consistency has been the most important aspect to my journey in music. I’ve always wanted to progress in a way that felt right to me. I grew up listening to all kinds of genres and I have my late mom to thank for that.
At first I thought I’d strictly produce Hip Hop, R&B tracks but I soon realised that if I wanted to make an impact I had to try something different. I worked on my craft for many years and I’m glad that everything happened at its own time because now I’m mature enough to understand the importance of my role as a producer/composer. Even the basics when it comes to working with other artists, I had to learn to be professional and conduct myself in a way that if I had to approach a company or label I was ready to work. I’m very well aware of myself and my brand, so just being consistent and maintaining a learning mindset has really helped me get to this point in my career.
RD: What type of music do you specialise in?
GJ: It really depends on the crowd, the mood and the setting. My DJ sets vary and I’m known for my experimental, futuristic electronic sound. I tend to go for music that isn’t mainstream – not because I don’t appreciate it but I feel the role of the DJ is to introduce people to music they may have not heard before. For me it’s about creating an experience for the listener.
RD: Being a graphic designer, music producer, wife and a model at the same time can be quite challenging, how do you do it?
GJ: My schedule gets very busy during certain times of the year and sometimes I just have to say no in order not to overwhelm myself. Balance is important to me and I do my best to give every area of my life the attention it deserves. If I need to rest I rest, there’s a time and place for everything. I love doing what I do but I also have boundaries and being able to establish that early in life is important.
RD: Being a female DJ in a male dominated industry comes with challenges, what are some of the challenges you experience?
GJ: That specific question has been asked countless of times, it’s a narrative that I personally want to change and educate people on. Yes it’s a “male dominated industry” and I understand people use the tag “female DJ” to differentiate between the two genders but I prefer women in music. Here’s an example, no one goes around calling the doctor a “female doctor” or an accountant “female accountant”. I’m not a female DJ, I’m a DJ. My gender has nothing to do with how well I do my job. There are amazing women out that who are so good at what they do and should be respected for it.
RD: You have played in South Africa, what are some of your major highlights throughout your musical career?
GJ: Not only have I performed in SA but in Zambia and Zimbabwe too. I’ve had amazing highlights in my career, like Rocking the Daisies and Afropunk (in Jo’burg). Every opportunity that has come my way has been a blessing. I’ve met wonderful people and I’ve connected with musicians around the world.
RD: What are some of the musical projects you are currently working on?
GJ: I’m currently working on my debut Album, it’s been an interesting process because I’m taking all the years that I’ve been working on my craft and putting together this body of work. All the people involved have been so great and I’m really fortunate to have the support of my peers so I’m not going to put out any dates just yet, but hopefully it will be out this year.
RD: What is your advice to young women who aspire to break into the music industry as DJs and producers?
GJ: I believe that women who want to produce, DJ or sound engineer have more platforms to choose from now. I didn’t grow up seeing a lot of women who DJ back in my days in Namibia, especially black women but now we have so many incredible women to look up to and be inspired by. I’d like to continue motivating and encouraging women who want to pursue a career in music to do so.
Remember to do your research and be committed. Things are always tough in the beginning, but it’s an opportunity for you to overcome and elevate. Work consistently and find that special thing about you that you can use to help you stand out.