(c) Femi Hue
(c) Femi Hue

The pipeline from DJ to fine artist is not a journey you’d expect many to take – but one Liverpool-based disc jockey is relishing the opportunity to express his creativity on two different fronts.

Tony Nwachukwu, 46, is a British-Nigerian DJ who goes by the stage name ‘SoulfulTiz’. He’s DJ’ed at venues such as Africa Oye, Fika festival and 24 Kitchen St, and now alongside his musical exploits, he’s just been involved in his first fine art exhibition.

The Blackfest Visual Arts exhibition at Smithdown Social Arts Hub showcases art and photography work from local black artists such as the late Leroy Cooper, Petronelle who works with the Merseyside Congolese association, and photographer Hellen Songa. For Tony, it was his opportunity to get his art out there.

He said: “I’ve been sketching for a while. It was something I started doing a lot more in lockdown, sketching & showing it on Facebook.

“Jubeda, the director of Blackfest, reached out to me and said she was doing a visual arts exhibition and asked, ‘would you consider it?’”

Not only was his art displayed for the very first time, but he also held a fine art workshop on site on October 25 to teach others how to sketch animals & people.

Tony’s art, taken by Mackenzie Argent

Tony said: “It’s surreal honestly… I was there to carry out my workshop, and I was just looking at my work on the wall and thinking ‘wow’!”

Born in Manchester, Tony spent his youth bouncing between Manchester and London, but after one of his mates who had moved to Liverpool invited him to visit the city, he ended up loving it – and he’s been here ever since.

It was in Knowsley that Tony got his first taste as a DJ.

He said: “I started off doing radio, in 2018. A friend of mine was the manager at a local radio station called KCC that was run independently of Knowsley college, but based at the college.

“I was just making Spotify playlists with my friend at the time, and she approached me asking if I would like a chance to do radio.”

He jumped at the opportunity, starting a two-hour radio show called ‘Soul Fusion’ that he hosted on KCC until 2020 – and his passion for music grew from here.

“I just said ‘you know what, I want to DJ.’ So I bought a controller, I got myself a laptop, and just went on YouTube and watched videos on how to do it.”

A self-taught DJ with a late start in the industry, it hasn’t stopped him from growing quickly into a prominent DJ in the Liverpool music scene.

“There was a festival called Fika Festival, and the organisers asked if the presenters from KCC wanted to DJ. So that was my first DJ event.

“From there, I left KCC and went to Melodic Distraction. During this period, I’ve had opportunities to DJ at Africa Oye, I’ve DJed for Blackfest as well.”

His fine art exploits haven’t stopped him from continuing to DJ either – He’s recently started a new series of events at the city centre garden bar & venue Kazimier Garden, and will put emphasis on genres he’s never mixed before.

Fre.Que.Ncy poster

Tony added: “For the last two years I’ve focused on Afrobeats, Amampiano, South African music, but I kind of ignored my other genres, because I love Neo-soul, jazz and all that stuff. So I thought I’m going to start a new event called Fre.que.ncy – unearthing the sounds of tomorrow.

“It’s going to be future soul, Kaytranada, Little Simz… just a new vibration, energy, a different genre of music from what I’m used to.”

Despite his success as a DJ, Tony works full time as an exams administrator, and his creative ventures have served as an escape for him from his daily life.

“The art, the music, it keeps the right balance for me. Art for me is escapism, it’s expression as well, and when you’re working you need to be able to express yourself.

“Creatives … we battle with thinking we’re good enough to put ourselves and our work out there.

“I’m just getting used to the fact that I’ve got my art in a frame as well.”

Tony’s dream is to one day perform at Glastonbury, but with his newfound talent, there may well be a bright future for him in the world of fine art.

Featured image (c) Femi Hue



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