London born DJ and professor Kobby Graham aka “The Funky Professor” takes us through his crates and influences.
When did you start DJ’ing and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started DJing over a decade ago with Amplified in the UK. Early influences or passions were Michael Jackson, Native Tongues, 90s HipHop as a whole, Neo Soul and more.
What is it about DJing compared to say, producing your own music that makes it interesting for you?
Hmm. I can’t produce to save my life. I’m taking lessons this semester though with Ashesi’s BeatClub! I have a big, BROAD love for music though and for sharing it or vibing off of it. That’s the draw.
Do you prepare for your sets or you just show up and draw inspiration from the crowd?
Definitely the latter. I may prepare a handful of tracks to play. But mostly live and winged.
When people hear “Kobby Graham” what’s the first thing you would want to come to mind?
As a DJ? Hmm. Eclectic. Or weird. I’m happy being that DJ that’s known for a ‘weird’ playlist.
If we were to raid your music collection at the moment, what genres or artistes would we find?
What’s the most obvious difference between playing music to a UK audience compared to GH?
The UK is the birthplace of so many genres of recent music. There’s a more established ‘underground’ scene so crowds are more musically openminded. DJing in Accra feels like ‘musical evangelism’. That said, that makes playing in Ghana more of a musical challenge and that’s a good thing. All that, and Ghana audiences stay out longer and ‘club crawl’ more. Koraa!
Given the chance to relocate any where in the world to build ur career as a DJ, where would you go?
Build? Man. I love New York. But there’s no challenge there. I’m staying in Accra!
Can you explain the “no challenge” part of being a DJ in NY?
All the institutions have already been set up for you both in radio & clubs. There’s a broad range of music, artists falling over themselves to perform there, often for free. Accra is not like that. As someone playing music outside the mainstream, you have to pioneer. Ask Anansi. Ask Juls. Ask Keyzuz. Ask Steeloo. Ask K3V
What’s the most memorable gig you’ve ever played till date?
*chuckle* Sorry. Hmm! That’s a tough one. Off the top of my head though, first time back in London after I moved to Ghana. Puma World Cup Album launch with DJ Edu. There’s an entire backstory to it though. In summary, I choked during an audition for the show Edu does. The Puma gig months later had us play back to back. And I pretty much torched the dancefloor. Basaa. Then handed the decks to Edu like an MC who had just killed and dropped the mic.
Sounds like you do enjoy a bit of healthy competition with other DJs when you play. Who are your favorite DJs to play with?
Can you think of one of those myths out there about DJs that makes you actually laugh out loud?
Myths about DJs? In Ghana? Probably that DJs aren’t educated. *polishes MA certificate*
LOL which brings us to why they call you the funky professor. Please tell our audience what you do when ur not turning tables.
I lecture @Ashesi for the most part. I blog (and write) too every now and then
Can you recommend two DJs local or global you feel are doing amazing work n deserve our attention?
What is the biggest challenge upcoming DJs in Ghana face and what advice do u have for them?
I can think of a few, but one that stands out is a lack of support from the spaces whose dancefloors we fill. Unfavorable terms (except for Republic Bar who are awesome to DJs). Advice-wise? Maybe we as DJs (especially those who play more than the norm) need to start our own venues or at the very least become more creative about where we do events.
Great ideas. Maybe we’d have to delve into that a lot more on another date.
That would be cool.