DJ Buhle on riding the deep house wave - 'My sound is inspired by the elements of nature'

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DJ Buhle is set to take the stage at the 2023 Ultra Music Festival in Johannesburg.
DJ Buhle is set to take the stage at the 2023 Ultra Music Festival in Johannesburg.
Photo: Desire Seko

The world is her oyster. As a DJ, producer and record label owner, she's got a lot going for her. 

Buhle Nhlapo – who professionally goes by the moniker DJ Buhle – has been in the industry since the early 2000s, shaking up the scene with her hypnotic deep house tracks.

The deep bass and slow burning house effects in her music have become a signature sound for DJ Buhle, where she has a music catalogue of five EPs – or extended play records – collaborating with a range of local and international electronic musicians throughout her career.

On Saturday, 11 March 2023, DJ Buhle will grace the Ultra Music Festival Smirnoff Storm stage in Johannesburg for the first time, taking Afro-tech music to new heights. Other acts on the lineup include DNB Gogo, Zakes Bantwini and Focalistic.

Describing the inspirations behind her sounds, Buhle tells TRUELOVE just how much deep basses are instrumental to her sound.

“If it doesn’t have a 'doof' in it, I’m not moved. My sound is inspired by the elements of nature, melodic deep sounds with drums, which gets me in a trance when listening to it or producing it and even worse when playing it,” she says.

The award-winning electronic DJ uses her platform to inspire and bring South African deep house to the masses, booking opportunities to perform on world-renowned stages.

“I’m super amped to be on the line-up [since] it’s been on my wish list. South African deep house has been thriving for some time now so Ultra is another brilliant platform for the deep house story to be told from my perspective, to be told to the world out there,” Buhle explains.

Going on to describe her reaction to finding out she’ll be performing at the Ultra Music Festival and her preparations for her set, Buhle shares how she couldn’t contain her excitement.

“The way I was so excited I even posted before time. Finding out was the ‘welele’ moment and since then I’ve been researching all the other DJs and their style of music. So anyone attending must be prepared to be on board the #DoofEffectExpress,” she says.

Buhle has been working on her DJing and mixing skills for nearly two decades now. She says she's been spinning on vinyl since 2005 but decided to pursue her talent full-time in 2014.

“The same week I started DJing in 2005, I started a job at FNB, which was what helped me buy records, then [I] left FNB [in] 2014 to be a DJ professionally.”

Born and bred in Soweto, the rising star built up her fanbase DJing for major radio stations like Jozi FM and YFM and has headlined popular clubs and festivals around the country including Club Truth, Oppikoppi, We Love Summer, Rocking The Daisies, and We House Sundays, just to name a few.

Currently booked as the resident DJ at Melrose Arch hotspot Archer Bar & Eatery, the opportunities are many for Buhle.

While performing at the Ultra Music Festival is an achievement many artists in her position can only dream of getting, the DJ has many accomplishments under her belt that can put her in the same league as many other critically acclaimed musicians.

On 25 March 2023, Buhle will take to the stage at the Sounds Wild event where she will play the decks alongside Grammy Award-winning artist Zakes Bantwini and legendary DJs Bonobo and Karyendasoul.

READ MORE | Zakes Bantwini, a Grammy Award-winning visionary with his sights set on the horizon

Buhle describes this as another milestone moment for her career, “because it shows that God’s timing is perfect”, she says.

Buhle describes her career-defining moment as when she launched her own record label titled Bezulu Records World Wide in 2022, which has released two EPs under its name, Doof Effect and Conclusions by Jean-Luc.

Speaking on her upcoming projects, Buhle explains, “[I will be] dropping something called #BeStill soon in collaboration with an international record label, keep your eyes peeled.”

Throughout her lengthy and fruitful career, Buhle has noted the highs and lows that kept her on her feet and she's ready to tackle any obstacle that come her way.

Any career has its challenges, and she describes her lows – or what she’d rather refer to as lessons – as “not being taken seriously because I don’t conform to social media standards,” she explains to TRUELOVE.

She tells us that, “winning an award as a deep house DJ, all the residences I’m with and still getting bookings where it’s always different crowds which obviously keeps me on my toes,” are all notable highs of her lengthy and fruitful career that she hopes to maintain as she rises the ranks to reach superstardom.

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