Although Michael Ndung’u, 35, was born in Kenya he can hardly recall his childhood life in Kenya as they moved to the USA when he was two years old. His mother relocated to the US in search of greener pastures and he and his three siblings tugged along. I caught up with him recently at Villarosa Kempisiki where he was attending a LinkedIn-sponsored concert.
“My mum thought life would be easy in the West and jobs easy to come by. Little did she know that these countries have their own fair share of challenges to deal with. Life is so expensive that you hardly get by. Mum used to juggle two jobs to make ends meet. I started working when I was 16 years old to supplement her income,” Michael talks about their early life in the US.
He says that he used to push shopping trolleys at a supermarket to earn some money. Even though Michael had passion for music, he didn’t know how to hone it, as he didn’t have someone to hold his hand, nor the money to go for training. “I would visit clubs and sit around DJs to get a glimpse of how they were mixing and blending songs,” he says.
His passion for music grew so much that he would often be at loggerheads with his mother who wanted him to concentrate on his studies. He obeyed, albeit briefly, for he later dropped out of college to chase his deejaying dream. He struggled to find his footing but he remained resolute. His breakthrough came when he met a Kenyan-American DJ by the name Babu at a house party. They partnered to form Takeover DJs with an aim of offering quality entertainment among Kenyans living in the US.
“At that time, some of my age mates were already engaging in drugs and so mum started appreciating what I was doing. She finally gave me her blessings and at the age of 20, I made up my mind to fully focus on deejaying hence the moniker DJ Fully Focus,” he says with
Although his deejaying career didn’t pick up instantly, Michael says that he never at any time doubted the path he had chosen. “Just like any other business, we encountered turbulences starting out. Weeks would sometimes pass without jobs and there were times my friends hosted me, as I wasn’t making enough to pay house rent. I had to be aggressive to sustain myself,” he recalls.
With time he and his partner were able to build their client base. “As a DJ my main role is to make my clients happy. I mainly perform in club residences, as well as touring across Africa, Asia, Europe and the US,” he says, revealing that most of his clients are of African descent – a niche that he specifically chose.
As a touring DJ, Michael remarks that he plans his schedule early enough in order to give quality services to those he serves. Some of the musicians he has worked with include Wizkid, Sean Paul, Davido, Rick Ross and Akon, among other internationally acclaimed artistes.
DJ industry in Kenya
Michael, who was in the country for a LinkedIn-sponsored concert, notes that the DJ industry has really grown in Kenya and although it has not reached international standards, he acknowledges that it’s on the right path.
“I have previously performed in Kenya and other East Africa countries and I know a lot of DJs in Kenya are talented but they need to professionalise their skills. This will help them to set standards that will enable them make a good income,” he says.
Michael further says that he is planning to come back to the country and invest as there are a lot of opportunities. He advises young people in the industry to work on their craft, as this is the only way to greater results.
“Work hard and be persistent as the journey is full of ups and downs. Don’t chase people but instead work on building yourself so that you can attract the people you want,” he says. Michael is in an open relationship though he is planning to settle down soon.