Growing up, DJ Pinye was a naughty boy, at one point he even set the family home ablaze.
“I burned our home, my childhood home. I was a crazy kid. I (finally) told my mum when she was in her hospital bed (that I was the one who burned it). We used to live in Kibra,” he says.
Now turning 51, Pinye - real name Peter Chuani, looks back at events that have shaped his life. From getting accused for his hard stance against playing what he called mediocre Kenyan music to pioneering the first TV music show.
Ironically, he does not like the deejaying environment or the the party scene. And marriage isn’t in his plans.
“I am an introvert. If I had a choice, you would never see me,” he says.
It is the first major interview he is doing in years. As is his trademark, he has a simple look; a blue T-shirt, black jeans and white sneakers. He is spontaneous in thought, and a perfectionist who doesn’t mince his word or care what others make of his opinions.
It all started in 1988 when Pinye turned 18. He was now an adult in the eyes of the law. Exuberant about his new found freedom, he stepped out to explore the night life with the first venture landing him at Carnivore Simba Salon, Nairobi.
His attention was gripped by the deejay, the veteran DJ Bubs, who happens to be part of the lineup of deejays performing at the much-hyped Payback 50+1 DJ Pinye birthday concert, slated for the same venue, where it all started, next Saturday.
“Deejaying has changed. Deejays have increased. Technology has improved to a point where my sister can mix without doing anything. All she has to do is choose the songs and place them (depending on) how she wants them to follow and then the machine mixes. We learned the analogue way where you had to cue the song, needle and side.
“There are so many softwares and because of that you find someone going to church for a wedding, charging (as low as) Sh5,000. We used to buy records,” DJ Pinye softly grumbles.
“You can now create your own fan-base via social media,” he says.
Back in the day, the few deejays who had the deejaying know-how and equipment used to call the shots. Only through them would one get exposure through airplay.
After turning 45, DJ Pinye announced he had retired. For five years, he disappeared from the public scene until his 50th birthday when friends threw him a party. After that, he started making club appearances.
“When I got to 45, I retired, but when Covid came, there was a gap. Everybody was at home. I came back and the Sunday Cruise Online show became so huge,” speaking on his comeback.
Family life has not been all rosy for the successful deejay. For the best part of his life, he was not in good books with his mother, neither did he show attention to his physically disabled younger brother till his mother – who was his sole caregiver – passed on. His mother’s passing on signaled his turning point.
“I wasn’t close to her. I never used to talk to her. I hated her from when I was a teenager. I was mean and rude. Fortunately, before she died we made up and became close. I started focusing on her, not my brother. I was like that is her work, work she has been doing all her life. I didn’t think it was a big deal. Then she passed on.”
It was a season of painful family tribulations. After his mother died, his brother who had cerebral palsy also died. And then recently, his older brother died. It was a sudden death.
Now DJ Pinye is left behind with a younger brother and a younger sister, aside from their father.
“See, my mum used to take care of this boy. I was never interested in what she was doing. He had cerebral palsy. Then, my mum passes on and I come here and start asking what mummy was doing. We could not take care of him. It was next to impossible. We had to hire nurses. The wake-up call was thinking that mum used to take care of him for 30 years without a scratch, and now we are here messing him up. I came to realise that my mum never had any life. She spend all her time taking care of (him). No friends, no nothing. When you think of such things, they make you feel so sad. If I knew, I would have done more to help. This was a wake up call and after that, I decided never to take anything for granted, especially with people who are disabled,” he says with a sense of deep loss.