With just over two decades of deejaying under his belt, Vinny Da Vinci is one of the most important figures on the South African electronic dance music scene.
Vinny has helped galvanize deep underground club culture in his various guises: as a partner in the power house House Afrika Records; as compiler and executive producer of many of their top-selling compilations; as a producer alongside his long time partner, Dj Christos in the groundbreaking Djs At Work; as co-owner of the classic Tshwane nightclub Carnalita; and as a deejay on the leading edge of the underground house scene.
Raised in Pretoria (Atteridgeville & Mabopane), Vinny began buying vinyl after watching his mentor, Atteridgeville’s Dj Correy, blend records on a pair of Technics turntables at a club called Ship Ahoy (one of the first clubs in Mabopane) in the late 80s. He got his break when the resident Dj at another Mabopane club, Cherry’s, failed to pitch up and he was asked to stand in. He impressed the owners immensely and landed a residency, later quitting his day-job at a clothing store to become a full-time Dj.
Vinny then did stints at Club Gemini (another club in Pretoria that changed the face of music in South Africa). Gemini at the time was an institution that was instrumental in breaking house music locally – and at Cherry’s, then he hit Johannesburg, securing a residency at The Arena in Hillbrow in 1995.
During a period of radical political and musical change that included the emergence of kwaito and “bashes” that hosted anywhere up to 20 000 attendees, Vinny formed a friendship with a white deep house spinner called Dj Christos (then resident at Caesar’s Palace in Braamfontein) which culminated with the formation of production unit Djs At Work in 1998 – their intention: ‘to change how people look at music in South Africa’. Over the course of five critically acclaimed, platinum-selling studio albums and a slew of top-notch deejay mixes, they’ve certainly done this.
Vinny became a partner in House Afrika Records in 1996, with house music enjoying a resurgence of interest thanks to the arrival of YFM. House Afrika began releasing landmark CD compilations like Dj Fresh’s ‘Fresh House Flava Volume 1’, and Vinny assisted to oversee these pulsating projects whilst handling a deejaying residency at South Africa’s equivalent of the Paradise Garage in the USA, Club Ellesse in Pretoria. Djs At Work were a permanent fixture at Ellesse, the driving engine of local house culture at the time.
He has also played in clubs across South Africa and in neighbouring countries like Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique – even North Africa – and has wowed crowds annually in Ibiza, Spain since 2000 when he debuted at the legendary night club, Pacha (he’s made annual pilgrimages to the Winter Music Conference in Miami since the same year). His skills also secured him a mini tour of Europe (Ibiza, Mallorca, London and Zurich).
Back home, some of his more recent ventures include his concept club nights, Deep Soul Sessions, which he hosted at uber-underground haunt OneOneFive downtown Johannesburg and lately at venues like Capital Music Café – these are widely regarded as some of the best club nights in the country’s history.
Vinny has also formed a collective with Djs Oskido, Christos, Fresh and Greg ‘The Maestro’ Maloka called DJU (United DJs), which focuses on big event organization and most importantly empowerment – giving tips, tricks and knowledge to the younger generation and ensuring a solid future for the South African dance music industry. Foremost among their projects is the annual South African Music Conference, which they’ve hosted since 2005.
But it’s still as a Dj that Vinny Da Vinci is best known, and it’s an arena in which he’s top of the pile – revered for spinning a brand of individual house that’s simply fathoms deeper than the competition. Continually educating and entertaining his audience, he’s played alongside the biggest visitors to South Africa, including Louie Vega, Frankie Knuckles, Dennis Ferrer, Charles Webster, Alix Alvarez, Mr V, Alexkid, Frankie Feliciano, Kenny Dope, Franck Roger, Jojo Flores, Jazzy Jeff, Jef K, Rocco, Ralf Gum and Manoo…(the list is endless)
Since April 2009, Vinny and his longtime partner Christos have secured a slot on SABC’s Metro FM, Friday evenings from 22h00 till 01h00 producing and presenting a dance show called The Urban Beat. The show is interactive on their Facebook group page The Urban Beat On Metro FM and has attracted a lot of listeners here in South Africa and abroad.
The sky’s the limit for the legendary Vinny Da Vinci so expect a whole lot more from the man who likes to say ‘ MUSIC IS MY LIFE AND THERE AIN’T NO STOPPING…