DJ Sam Omol Gifted Djs 2016 Journey
After getting to the finals of the inaugural Gifted DJs 2015 edition and failing to win it, I felt a bit of discouragement in my heart, as I had put in a lot of time and energy into the competition, it was a cold tough 1 st of January morning at Safaricom kasarani Stadium when the competition was done, but I remember Dj Krowbar, one of the mentor’s that year saying to me back stage, “happy new year, it’s nice to meet your wife, it’s going to be an amazing year for you!!” I felt some hope coming from one of the mentors and a deck guru such as himself.
Fast forward to November of 2016 when I saw the Gifted DJs ad on social media. I did not have 2 nd thoughts, I felt like having tried before and not won, it will not take anything away from me to try again, as a matter of fact the first edition of gifted DJs taught me a lot, and helped me network with fellow gospel DJs. Truth be told at that point in time, I would have loved to win, but my main aim was to learn and be better. Gifted DJs pushes you to come up with your best mix sets each and every week….and the current week’s set needs to beat last week’s “best” set. By the time you are done, you have a sense of refinement in your sets.
I quickly gathered some tracks, listened to them and made my submission set and sent it via whatsapp to the number provided. So the wait began, to know if I have been shortlisted for auditions of the 2 nd Edition of Gifted DJs. Throughout this wait I kept asking God what does he require of me in this competition, I still did not receive my answer, but I said, let His willbe done. The following week I got a text on Monday evening, informing me that auditions are on Wednesday that very week. I was excited and immediately started creating my audition set.
After every DJ had performed we were told that those who will advance to the next round will be notified by their respective mentors. This was one long wait, speaking with some of the DJs I knew on phone, most of them had already been contacted by their mentor and were sure they are into the quarter finals. I thought to myself, “did those 2 mistakes I made cost me an opportunity to advance?” 4 days on, still no call or sms from any mentor, I gave up, I knew I was out, I even started making a worship set, just to thank God and called it a day. On the fifth day as my mind was already out of Gifted and now going about my business, I was contacted by my mentor DJ Sadic and told me am through to the quarters.
At the auditions, there were so many DJs, I knew some of them, but I did not know most of them in person. most of the DJs were 1 st time participants in the gifted DJs competition. We spoke and chatted about how the competition looks this time round and everyone seemed very hopeful, which is a good thing, but that also means they were well prepared. It even felt like they were more prepared than I was. One after the other was called, and as my turn drew closer, I was pondering if my set would be good enough to make the cut into the quarter finals. After almost 3 hours wait, I went in and played my set, I actually made 2 mistakes, which one of the mentors DJ GG pointed but he liked the story line I was trying to achieve with the mix.
I thought to myself, this time there are no room for mistakes, and I have to do better than the previous week, I immediately started making the 5-minute set. Between Monday and Wednesday, I slept for less than 7 hours in total trying to come up with a convincing set.
Wednesday came and still I was among the last to perform, I kept encouraging myself, that this time, I will do better. It went very well, the judges gave me positive feedback about my performance with our principal Misa Sam challenging me to use my creativity with more common and popular songs and that will make it even better. I had good feeling that was going to take me through to the semi-finals. This time round the all the DJs participating were called to the stage and those advancing to the next round were notified immediately.
I was happy, and I started creating the Semi-Finals set that very night, still with heavy signs of sleep in my eyes, I ended up falling asleep even before I selected even one track. My wife told me “rest today, then get on it tomorrow, this time you have 6 days to come up with a great set.” I worked on it for the 6 days and during that time I spoke to fellow competitors and even other DJs who were not competing to ask for songs that I wanted to include that I did not have. This competition makes you know your library inside out, and makes you pick up the phone and speak to your fellow DJs.
Come semi-final day I was more ready than in the previous 2 rounds, I had thought out my set and had practiced because I knew at this stage of the competition, everyone who has made it is really good, there is no room for error, and certainly no room to present a half-baked set. Being only 13 djs, I was number 11 in the lineup and my turn came very quickly, I went in, inserted my CDs, confirmed the settings on the decks were the way I wanted them and began. I enjoyed that set since I had done it so many times before and after it was done
I left the hall with the words of DJ Mo were still echoing in my ears “your set is one of the best I have seen today.” It was at that point I knew that not only am I most likely to make it into the finals but I stood a chance win it if I put in the work and research.
The 2-week window between the semis and finals were the longest 2 weeks I have faced in all my years as a DJ, I have never been so stressed about DJing. First the venue was shifted from Thika to Nakuru, so new travel plans had to be made. Secondly, I made sets and tore them down hours after completing them as they seemed not to be “good enough” to win a competition such as Gifted DJs. I called one my mentors DJ GG to ask for advice (the call felt like the 911 song by Kirk Franklin and Bishop TD Jakes) and he encouraged me to just do my best, and God will see me through if it’s his will that I win it, and as he was speaking I was thinking “God if you want me to win this, you would give me two super crazy sets right now and we call it a day.”
One day to the finals I just had one set complete, the 2 nd one seemed not to come together….and did I mention I had to create a 3 rd set just in case? Yes that was the situation, and I remember my wife and I just stopping all the set creation fiasco to pray. It was after that prayer that ideas just flowed and was able to complete the set before bed time.
Saturday 31 st December came and I woke up at 5:30am to practice since I knew we have to travel to Nakuru, there will be no other time. I practiced the two sets till midday, and it only took Kenya Power to make me stop on the decks, and start the journey. It’s amazing how many times you can play a 5-minute set in half a day and still feel not 100% ready. When we got there, we were given the brief and began the 1 st round at around 7:30pm, it went well and at 2am The judges picked 3 out of 5 who played the 2 nd set. I was confident with my set but I knew I was not as strong on the mic as the rest of the DJs were, I knew I would have to step it up and speak with appeal and authority. I prayed because that was not my strength in any way. I was last to play and it sounded even better in the big sound system, the crowd at 2am responded positively with shouts to my subtle intro and from there I knew I had 4 minutes to wow them even more if I had a chance to win it. I honestly can’t remember where the energy came from, but people who knew me backstage, said they had never seen me DJ like that. I give ALL glory to God for that amazing night on being crowned Gifted Djs