Full-time student, sportsman, and sound selector, Khanya Dilima, is the poster child for chasing your dreams and remaining authentic in the process. Better known as Chef KD, Khanya has spent his years at university juggling studies, varsity cricket, and perfecting his craft as a house music DJ. All the while, he has spent years intricately planning the launch of his collective — Pots and Pans — which is now in full swing. 

Khanya let us in on his musical journey, establishing a brand and remaining true to himself in an industry where this is not an easy endeavour.

From K.O. To Chef KD

Khanya DJ at Fools Gold Stellenbosch
Chef KD
[Khanya playing at Fool’s Gold, Stellenbosch. PHOTO: Meyr Koen]

Academia, a Stellenbosch student accommodation block, saw the rise of this talented DJ. In Khanya’s first year at Stellenbosch University, one of his close friends, Oliver Schuurmans, lived in Academia. Oliver had a neighbour who was a DJ at the time, and he invited the pair over to play music with him. At the end of the afternoon, both Khanya and Oliver developed a deep love for DJing as a whole. 

Following the interaction with the friendly neighbour, Khanya and Oliver began DJing recreationally and formed a duo called K.O. After dabbling in this as a hobby for a while, the two friends eventually decided to invest in their own decks and speakers so they could take their interest in DJing to the next level. “It was just a fun thing. It started off as just a hobby. Then we got more serious about it and said, ‘Wait, we can actually do something with this,’” Khanya says. 

After two years of DJing together, Khanya and Oliver decided to part ways. Both wanted to focus on their individual sounds and curate their personal styles. This was the birth of Chef KD. Khanya has always been a fan of rap music, and his love for house music was influenced by his family, who would always play this type of music.

“I’ve always loved music since I was very young. I listen to a lot of rap, and during the SoundCloud era, I listened to a lot of Kaytranada,” Khanya says. “​My uncles listen to a lot of deep house music, so I was introduced to that from a young age as well. So, I’ve always just been around music and listening to music,” he adds. 

The name Chef KD is an ode to Drake’s song titled ‘0 to 100’ in which he refers to American basketball player Steph Curry as “Chef Curry”. The KD — besides being Khanya’s initials — is also an ode to basketball player Kevin Durant.

Chef KD Starts Cooking It Up

Khanya Pots and Pans Event Fools Gold Stellenbosch
Chef KD
[Khanya at a Pots and Pans event. PHOTO: Meyr Koen]

When he first started out playing solo, Khanya stuck mainly to house music during his sets. As time went on, however, he decided that he wanted to branch out to other genres. “Obviously, there needs to be a template so people know what to expect when you play, but I try to mix it up and offer a variety while still maintaining the same vibe when I select music,” he says. 

According to Khanya, when he gets booked to play at a certain venue or event, he doesn’t really like to plan out his set. He chooses his first track to start out with, and from there he gauges people’s reactions and then plays to the crowd. “If the crowd is having a good time and enjoying what I play, I have an even better time,” Khanya explains. He also emphasises the importance of being able to tell a story through your music and relay that to a crowd. 

“I’m constantly learning about the industry and DJing while I’m doing it,” he points out. Locally, Khanya looks up to the SAMA-nominated house music artist, Jullian Gomes — whom he draws a lot of inspiration from. Khanya also recognises the importance of networking within the industry. He, however, prefers to grow authentically and let his music speak for itself. 

From starting out in Stellenbosch and playing for friends, Chef KD has reached countless goals in the short time he has been DJing. He has bagged himself a residency at Fool’s Gold Social Bar in Stellenbosch, as well as checked performing at We House Sundays, an established Cape Town-based music collective, off his bucket list. 

“I never thought I’d get a gig at We House Sundays until, I don’t know, like 10 years down the line,” he says. “The fact that they trusted and believed in my ability enough to give me the opportunity to play was huge,” says Khanya, adding that he also had the pleasure of playing at The Waiting Room in Cape Town — a must-play venue for local DJs.

In The Kitchen With Pots And Pans

The crowd at the Pots and Pans event
[The crowd at the Pots and Pans event. PHOTO: Dylan Williams]

Chef KD launched his own collective, Pots and Pans, in June, after years of meticulous planning, brainstorming, and networking. Pots and Pans is a curated event that brings people, music, and art together. “​​I’ve always wanted to do my own curated events,” Khanya says. The idea stemmed from wanting to do something different from other electronic music events. At a Pots and Pans event, there is an array of different DJs, clothing stalls, and even art — something for everyone. 

Starting something like this was a scary venture for Khanya. Doubts about a hosting venue, finances, and whether people would even show up to the event, played on his mind for months leading up to the first official Pots and Pans event. “I just kind of took it step by step. I didn’t rush it. It took me quite a while to come up with the final plan and say, ‘Okay, this is what I want to do.’,” Khanya explains. 

Luckily enough for Chef KD, by the time he was ready to launch Pots and Pans, he had built up a good relationship with Dane Hong — the owner of Fool’s Gold. Dane and Khanya bonded over their mutual love for music and developed a good friendship as well as a business relationship. This, in turn, secured Fool’s Gold as the venue for the first-ever Pots and Pans event. 

The ethos of Pots and Pans is to give a platform to DJs who would otherwise not have one. Khanya, through Pots and Pans, gives smaller DJs the chance to play for a crowd and hopefully secure more gigs by doing this. “I mean, if I were in that position, I would have loved to have an opportunity to play at an event like this,” he says. 

As for the future of Pots and Pans, all Khanya has to say is that there are big things to come, and everyone should get excited for what 2023 has in store. 

Chef KD Just Keeps Moving Up

Chef KD at his Pots and Pans event
[Khanya at a Pots and Pans event, PHOTO: Dylan Williams] 

The plan for Khanya four years ago definitely did not include playing dream venues, launching a collective, and establishing a brand for himself at such a young age. However, the way things have gone, he could not imagine it any other way. 

He advises anyone who is just starting out to stay true to themselves and never stop learning. “It’s important to just enjoy the journey because you never know where it might lead you,” he says. Despite the challenges he has faced along the way, all the difficulties have put him in the position he is in today. 

Khanya plays weekly at Fool’s Gold and has his debut at Mødular in Cape Town on 22 November — another bucket list venue for local DJs. The next Pots and Pans event is in the works and promises to be a banger.

Author

It’s a good thing I’m better at my job than I am at driving. Otherwise, we’d all be in big trouble. On the note of things I enjoy more than driving, the local music scene is very dear to my heart — put me in a crowd in front of a band instead of behind the steering wheel any day of the week.

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