Name: Brian "Big Bear" Karanja a.k.a. "sexual chocolate" a.k.a. "first bodi."
Where are you from? Nairobi y Boston.
What inspired you to start DJing?
I was inspired to start DJing mostly by my older sister and her DJ friends. She took me to a couple house parties and held some as well (shhh don't tell our parents) and during these parties I noticed how important music was to the vibes. Whoever controlled the music controlled the vibes; it's a big job and comes with big responsibility. Being a teenager in a room full of twenty-somethings I looked up to, I wanted that responsibility.
How do you think that sense of family factors into your work as a DJ now?
A sense of community greatly factors into my DJing now. I almost feel naked DJing an event without someone or some people I feel close too in the crowd or in the booth with me. It puts me at ease and helps me have a point of focus because I play to them if I don't feel comfortable with the new crowd yet.
Tell me about your work strengthening the cultural scene of the African diaspora in Boston– what has this looked like for you?
My work building the cultural scene of African diaspora was very limited because my knowledge of our home was limited to Kenya. But the older I got, the more I did research on other places other than Kenya, [so] the more effective I was. I worked with couple college-based African organizations to provide music and sound for their cultural events.
My goal through doing this work is to show people in Boston how much of cultural powerhouse Boston's African diaspora is. We are a very much untapped part of the city but very present.
Tell me a bit about your Anti-Hibernation tour last year in Kenya.
My experience during my tour was one of pure love and excitement from start to finish...the best way to describe it is to is compare it to seeing a friend or lover you haven't seen in months or years and picking up right where you left off. The city was very open to changes in my style of DJing from the last time I was there, but also wanted my classic sets that I was known for during my past time there. I loved to see the city respond to new styles of music that I was discovering.
The Wave/CLLCTV have been holding it down with some of the best parties in the city– how did this come together?
CLLCTV Boston came together purely out of observation and frustration, Boston or even the whole of Mass has been at a crossroads for the past decade. It's constant revolving door of youth is leaving the state and city in a very stagnant place. We saw our peers constantly looking outwards for an appealing post-graduate life. This was because Boston was not viewed as appealing culturally, compared to cities like New York City or Los Angeles. In an effort to change that we created The Wave Boston.
The Wave Boston is our effort to centralize the city's young post grad generation and bring them together to get to know each other, make new friends, and then show them the different culturally significant events in the city.
Just as you draw connections between music throughout history in your sets, what are a few tracks that you'd say represent your own personal history?
1. Kanye West- "Homecoming."
I literally listened to this the first time I flew back to Kenya. It always plucks at the heart strings.
2. Nneka- "Soul is Heavy."
Although this song is mainly about Nneka's views of Nigeria's struggles as a nation, they can be translated to reflect Kenya's, too.
3. Just a Band - "Dunia ina Mambo."
This song samples a classic Kenyan song from the '70s, and it shows how this generation of Kenyans are looking to the past to find our cultural roots.
4. Nonini - "Furahiday."
A classic Nairobi weekend turn up joint from the early 2000s.
5. Madtraxx - "Skamaress."
Another song that samples a classic Kenyan song, again showing how this generation of Kenyans are looking to the past to find our cultural roots.
6. TKZee - "Dlala Mapantsula."
The 1st South African song I loved that made realize that there is a dope world outside Kenya....that is not in the West.