Having cut his teeth in the barracks for over a decade, Duncan Mmeshe swapped his rifle for the decks, moving to South Africa in 2017 to pursue his fortune.
As DJ Deuce, the 35-year-old would take Mzansi by storm, securing the sought-after resident DJ spot at Durban’s popular Eyadini Lounge.
With his star rising rapidly, many expected Deuce to follow in the footsteps of DJ Fresh and Oneal, fellow Batswana who have made it big on South African radio.
However, at the end of 2019, with his health failing, DJ Deuce turned his back on the bright lights of Durban, opting instead for the home comforts of Francistown.
The Voice’s Daniel Chida caught up with the man who once hit the headlines for his reported romantic relationship with South African socialite, Zodwa WaBantu.
Q. Before making your name on the decks, you served in the army. Tell us a bit about your life as a soldier?
Me and my friend, Tshepi Jacob, we really loved the military, as we always saw them driving Land Rovers (laughing)!
There was a soldier renting at Tshepi’s house and it always seemed like he had it all.
Being a soldier was the best experience ever; the knowledge and experience was amazing.
I left the job still loving it but felt like in the journey of life you have to experience more.
To be honest, I consider myself to be still extremely close with my former workmates as they are so supportive of what I do now.
All I can say is most of the products I sell, they are fast to buy and help with marketing.
They keep on checking on me and encouraging me to never give up!
Q .Sounds like real camaraderie! So why did you quit?
I quit because I had a good job offer in Durban.
I also felt it was best to experience the other side of life’s challenges while still young and active.
Honestly, I love travelling – the military was kind of limiting to me.
Q. Whilst in Durban, you came to prominence as the house DJ at the famous Eyadini Lounge. How did you land such an exclusive gig?
In the aftermath of retrenchment, I went for DJ and Production School at Fellaz Groove Entertainment in Durban, so I had to go big or go home!
Eyadini Lounge was the powerhouse in Durban, even SA at large.
So I decided to go there and ask to be a DJ there.
I was given a chance, the boss was impressed and offered me a full time residency DJ!
Q. As simple as that?
I went there after sending an e-mail but getting no response.
So I turned up in person and requested to DJ one night.
They sent me to see the owner, a black giant African man named, MJ Jigga Money.
I found him in back-to-back meetings.
I went there at around 8am – he attended me at around 4pm!
He invited me to eat with him.
Before I could finish the first bite he asked me what I wanted.
I asked him if I could DJ in his Lounge at least once.
He rejected me fast.
I was speechless!
After three minutes he looked at me and said, “Did you come all the way from Botswana to accept when a man tells you no?”
So I was puzzled but eventually he asked me to come DJ adding we would take it from there.
I deejayed for almost a month without payment.
But every time he would pass by me and complement me.
After that hustle, one day journalists who had meetings in Eyadini complimented my set and he was so happy.
He started paying me and connecting me with other venues in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Sandton.
Q. What was it like working in Eyadini?
Eyadini, like any other place, you meet with difficult people, DJs, and other staff members who give you attitude and hard times.
But you have to fight your way up; you have to prove why you have to be on their line-up.
We know how tribalistic Zulus are, you have to learn their language or you will struggle.
Eyadine, as I said, is a powerhouse; I had to learn from Africa’s legends: Davido, Black Coffee, Ganyane, Mindlo Ncobo, Tira, Proffeso, our local legend DJ Fresh and many more.
Q Tell us a bit about your relationship with the controversial Zodwa?
When I arrived in Durban she was already famous and independent.
But she helped me get promotional jobs like Amstel Tarven Rich Outs and Flying Fish KZN Picnics.
She’s a very friendly and professional lady.
Q. How did you find working in SA compared to Botswana?
In SA they take care of their own.
Venue owners respect resident DJs more than visiting acts.
As a DJ, you are taken care of as much as visiting acts.
Here you become a visiting act’s servant! Also the media there are so supportive.
In BW, only GC artists and DJs benefit from all this.
One thing I wish for is companies to support across the board
Q. So why did you leave Mzansi?
When I was in SA I had a lot of challenges and I had to sell my car.
I had kidney problems, I tried fighting them in SA but we all know how expensive it is for a foreigner.
So I had to come back home to at least use local privileges.
I am still Eyadini lounge resident DJ.
When I was dealing with my medical issues, our Gold Vinyls Ambassador in the UK, Thabiso organised me a tour under their company Pandor.
The tour was scheduled for April but Covid took over.
So the tour will be rescheduled.
It will also help other local DJs as we are having deals networking with the company.
So Gold Vinyls DJs will also have the privilege in years to come to travel over there.
Q. You then resurfaced at Francistown’s latest joint, Pabloz?
Man I was struggling when I came back from SA!
My medical problems meant I had to be home.
I was rejected, and left out by most of clubs and events organisers, not that I’m complaining (laughing).
But Pabloz welcomed me with open arms, DJ Slim and our boss Shumba aka Mlungu.
He is a supportive brother who understood the struggle.
He helps a lot of us financially, in and out the club.
Q. With 2020 came Covid-19 – what are the main challenges caused by the pandemic?
Covid affected us in a big way.
I had international gigs which were postponed and even our local gigs had to be stopped too.
Even now we are struggling to make ends meet!
Q. And how have you been surviving?
During the lockdown, I came with plans to focus on my clothing line, Gold Vinyls Clothing, in order to finance other projects.
Q. Tell us more about your clothing line.
Gold Vinyls Clothing deals with different range clothes: t-shirts, jerseys, jackets, caps and many more.
Gold Vinyls is a name derived from the quality of music media Vinyl (rekote) and gold represents wealth and quality.
Q. How many people have you employed?
So far we are four: three in Botswana and one in UK.
We are planning to hire more next month as we are adding other products from our fellow entertainment brothers and sisters.
As Gold Vinyls we have taken the initiative to assist others survive the pandemic financially.
Q. And how exactly do you plan to assist others?
We at Gold Vinyls are intending to collaborate with legends of the city [Francistown], to come up with ways to source finance.
For now we are working with DJ Bunzonic and DJ Da drat.
We are pushing their labels.
As there are no events, we are planning to do an ‘only local labels’ market day.
We will invite those interested to come to display their products and have competitions in order to thank our customers for their continued support on our local product.
We will be doing this in collaboration with Francistown Online radio.
Q. Earlier this month, CEDA came up with new guidelines, what was your take as a young entrepreneur?
As a former military man I had my struggles with dealing with many loans.
So far I’m fighting to learn to use the little I have to move forward.
As for CEDA, I had a chance to read the guidelines and I would say they are very impressive; more time and more financial muscle to empower us.
I bet with time I will check them to assist me.
Q. What do you believe is the best way up-and-coming businessmen such as yourself should be helped?
We are all crying about market.
As BW is a baby of these European countries, the government has to help us with connections on how we can sell them our products.
It is high time we think beyond ‘ME TOO’ businesses.
China has Trade Shows where investors come and buy prototype products from Chinese youth.
Let’s not invite them to only come here to sell us things.
Let’s make the world Buy Botswana.
Our companies’ biggest client is government, this will increase corruption because without connections I won’t sell.
Q. What are your future goals?
There are top 10 events in the world and I would love to see myself performing at one – more especially: Glastonbury Festival UK, Coachella USA, and Tomorrowland Belgium.
My daughter told me all she wants is to travel the world – as a modern father I’ve to find ways to make sure she gets what she wants, while I’m getting paid to do so.
I love music so have to be paid for that (laughs).
Q. And finally, Thank God It’s Friday – how are you going to spend your weekend?
This time I want to go out of the zone for the first time since lockdown; I’ll be in Palapye meeting with loved ones.