She does not believe in New Year’s resolutions but jazz singer and now DJ Wanda Baloyi is a big disciple of constantly reinventing herself as an all-round entertainer.
Earlier this year, Baloyi had been entertaining not only jazz music fans at festivals, but she’s slowly been making inroads as a DJ under the moniker, Queen Choco. So the talented entertainer will be spending her first festive season behind the turntables dishing out cool dance sounds at a club scene near you.
Those who thought Baloyi was content with only being associated with jazz should not be alarmed as Baloyi has always been about innovation and brand repositioning. In the ’90s, as part of an all-female band, Ghetto Luv, Baloyi launched herself as a daring pop icon and after disbanding took stock of her career and came out guns blazing as a mature jazz singer who has gone to headlines local and international jazz events such as Joy of Jazz and many others.
Speaking to The New Age, the talented Baloyi said she has not ditched her love for jazz but is adding a feather to her impressive cap as she will at any given time take on both jazz and dance music all at once, depending on the occasion.
“Well, I’ll be spending my life and festive season as both. The idea of Queen Choco is to enhance and elevate the Wanda Baloyi brand. It’s more of an alter ego and I do believe that as individuals we all have certain parts of ourselves that we haven’t fully expressed or explored and Queen Choco is one form of my expressions.
“I’ve always loved dance music, more especially Soulful House music, so it was just a matter of the right timing presenting itself. I’ve been working on the idea as well as recording and doing my DJ classes for a year now before actually introducing it to the audience,” she said.
“With dance music comes a lot of challenges, late night drives as well as playing at the oddest of hours but Queen Choco says she has embraced that fact and looks forward to entertaining house music fans on their terms without losing her balance and musicianship, which has sustained her more than 20-year music career.
“Queen Choco represents the streets and when I speak about the streets I’m talking everything from eKasi to the urban streets to everywhere. Queen Choco has no limitations when it comes to performance locations.
“The difference is that there is a lot of late nights, long distance drives and you get to study your audience in every space you go. Not every location loves the same style of music and it’s up to one to try to get it right. It is challenging but so exciting. Wanda is more formal and acoustic. I absolutely love both. I look forward to seeing people enjoy the vibe and the show that I give,” she said.
Having begun her music career as a teenager in the ’90s, Baloyi says she has developed a tough skin and is able to handle the challenges that come with being a musician.
“For someone who’s been in the industry for as long as I have, I have not only grown a tougher skin but strong balls too. I know exactly what I’m doing. It has taken time and preparation.
“The idea of having both brands completely different was intentional for these purposes. To have them both uniquely strong as they are separate,” she said.
Embracing change and adapting to challenges has always been part of her DNA she says and having performed jazz for so long, she had become a bit stagnant. Seizing her love for dance music came at the right time for her.
“To be honest, I was bored and completely uninspired to do another jazz or soul album. I wanted something fresh, exciting and challenging. I had been thinking about it since January, 2016 and went all out to make it come to life.”
Well, if you thought this was a late April Fool’s joke, you have to look no further than Baloyi’s recent collaboration on the song, Vamos Acordar done with DJ Cleo.
“I approached him (DJ Cleo) seeking a new sound and I had contacted various DJs that I’ve also worked with. Cleo called me and we got together and started crafting the sound.
“He was very patient with me because I kept emphasizing that I didn’t want to sound like Wanda.
“He kept searching until he got it. I truly enjoyed working with him because he has and understands the formula of what I was looking for and he did an amazing job.”