David Muriithi is easily one of the coolest people you’ll ever meet. He oozes charisma and his beaming onstage persona (DJ D-Lite) paired with his intrinsic command over whichever crowd he plays for is but one of the reasons why he has remained as the official Safaricom International Jazz Festival DJ 5 years in a row!
What makes him such a gem? In my opinion, it’s his passion to always leave a crowd begging for more. His entertainment career which was the marriage between event and talent management & DJing, began over 30 years ago whilst in his 1st year at Manchester University where he was studying for a degree in Economics & Accounting….and he’s still deejaying!
The father of 3 who describes himself as an older man trapped in a younger soul tells us more about his journey and why the Safaricom Jazz audience will always be his most favorite to play for as a DJ:
“I run a small consultancy that trains young creative entrepreneurs around Africa how to improve their business processes. I am also into real estate development for small to medium income houses. I also sat as a Director of the Kenya Copyright Board for 6 years (2 terms) up until end-Sept. This is basically what I do apart from being on the decks and occasionally Emceeing in various corporate gigs.
Why creative entrepreneurship? In light of this, kindly expand what is the Creative Enterprise centre and what does it do?
Expanding on what I mentioned above, Creative Enterprise Centre seeks to assist creatives businesses in improving the way they operate, be it their cashflow management or their marketing skills etc. The reason I begun training was to leave a legacy of creative leaders who will serve as role models to future creatives, such as my children.
You started working with Safaricom almost 17 years ago, how did that start?
My relationship with Safaricom actually begun 18 years ago during it’s relaunch where my event management company was hired by their then PR Company, Gina Din PR, to assist in creating and running some of the events in the lead up to the relaunch.
How did you start playing for Safaricom Jazz?
My Love for all things music is well known to many. However, I was the only DJ in Nairobi who also used to run a Jazz/Neo Soul nite at Mercury ABC every Sunday. This got to the attention of the Safaricom Jazz organisers and one glorious day I got that call from Safaricom that changed my life.
You’ve been playing since the event’s inception. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt and what are some of your most memorable moments? (I mean every moment is memorable but hey)
There was one year that my dear friend and fellow music aficionado, David Njuki, played at the festival but left Kenya to work soon after. However I have been playing ever since I took over.
The major lessons I’ve learnt:
• Jazz legends are the coolest people. Must be the music
• I learnt to always curate the music carefully to set the mood for the next act in between performances. This is the KEY to being a good festival DJ.
• Kenyans are the only Jazz lovers who end up dancing way after the bands finish performing (always be prepared with an awesome outro DJ set!)
• Every year, the Jazz lovers increase.
My most memorable moment was in 2016 when Hugh Masekela gave my son (who plays Trumpet with the Safaricom Youth Orchestra) a one-hour lesson the day before he performed as headliner at SIJF. This concert was also the last time Kenyans saw him before he sadly passed away earlier this year.
In your opinion as a creative and one who advocates for the progress of creatives, do you think Safaricom is on the right path to helping creatives grow? And what do you think could be added?
Safaricom has done more from creatives, especially musicians, than any single entity over the past 20 years. There are too many music assets to name but Songa, Skiza, Twaweza, Blaze, Niko Na Safricom Live, Groove Awards, Groove Tour are but a few that come to mind. Added to that are the endless opportunities they offer for various creative talent to shine at their multitude of corporate events as well. So YES, Safaricom is definitely on the right path.
Due to my skills bias, I would wish for Safaricom to run an annual conference for DJs. This would help better networking amongst DJs around the country as well as provide for mentorship and skills transfers.
How has playing for Safaricom Jazz changed you as an artist (and a person)?
I have been a DJ for over 30 years and played for a host of world dignitaries such as former US President Barack (but I don’t say) 😎 and artists such as Run DMC and Kool & The Gang. However, playing at the Safaricom International Jazz Festival is easily my most exciting gig of the year. Not only do I get to hang out for a few days with Jazz greats, both local and international, but I get to contribute to the success of the event based on how I curate my music. This infront of over 10,000 people. What an honour!
It has really humbled me to part of the Festival over the years. I must be doing something right.
What do you expect to see from Safaricom Jazz in the coming years?
I expect to see the Festival officially included in the world Jazz Festival circuit alongside all the better-known ones. I also expect Safaricom Jazz to set up in different locations around the country alot more seeing as the number of Jazz lovers is steadily growing by the year! ❤️