Suniula L. Daniels – ‘The Life of a Deejay’
Written By Martha Samasoni| Suniula Daniels came from a close musical family, her father a keen singer and guitarist influenced not only Suniula’s love for music, but also many in her extended family, who went on to also pursue music as a career. You could say that she was surrounded
by music at an early age. But it was a gift from her uncle that was to reinforce her love and passion to work in the music industry.
“I was a huge fan of the Jackson family and when my uncle brought my first record ‘Ben’ from the Jackson 5 album, there was no stopping me from that point. I knew I wanted to work in this industry. Like many, I had already rehearsed what I would say if I was fortunate enough to meet up with the Jackson’s (laughs), well I wasn’t going to sing to them, that’s for sure as singing was not a gift I had inherited from my father (laughs).”
Singing aside, Suniula found herself interested in Deejaying. In the early 90’s under instruction from P-Town Legend, she learned the craft and mindset required to edge herself into a sought after DJ in Sydney, Australia, under the alias DJ Dee Daniels. She was a force to be reckoned with, as the only local female DJ who specialised in RnB & Hip Hop in the clubs.
“I used to mix Force MDs and the Fat Boys, Full Force, Lisa Lisa, New Edition, MC Hammer, NWA to name a few, I spun all of the legends, I loved these guys, and I did enjoy playing tracks that kept people on the dance floor; it is a skill to read your crowd and the thrill of knowing you can get them to bust the moves.” Over time Deejaying developed what was to be part of her education and appreciation of RnB & Hip Hop music.
“The life of a DJ was tough back then, I had pressures to stand tall and prove my worth in a predominately male environment – Deejaying is definitely not for the light hearted. I remember I had to transport my own equipment, with crates full of the latest vinyl’s, many late night all over the city at some of the hottest night spots in Sydney. Who needs to go to a gym? I had a work out every night (laughs). I do recall how my workload got so crazy for me that a friend of mine had arranged a limo to transport me from club to club.”
Deejaying was not only a highlight for Suniula, but it also created some of the darker periods in her life, as the world she had become a part of wasn’t all glamour and limos; some of this time in her life when she recalls it, was met with a few tears. ‘You know there are personal challenges that I faced over that time in my life, and I can honestly say I felt I had reached rock bottom. But you know, once you reach rock bottom there is only one place to go and that’s up;” that’s exactly what she did trading in her turntables to become a mom with her childhood sweet heart and fellow DJ, P-Town Legends.
“You know, I’m part of a very close nit family so becoming a mother to Tyrone was a changing point in my career. I still kept up my DJ skills at home but I couldn’t get back into working the late nights anymore, as I had to refocus my attention on my family and raising my son, who does nothing but bring me joy.”
As her love of music was also still very strong, Suniula decided to move her focus on other ways to appreciate and present it, by taking up music promotions. This eventually saw Suniula connecting with various Ol’ Skool R&B and Hip Hop artists, she use to spin back in the day including Full Force, Doc Ice, Ras Kass, Johnny Gill and many more.
“Sometimes I still can’t believe it, most of these guys were my idols and I was helping them by pushing their music out to my networks, assisting to promote and reintroduce them to a whole new audience. It was great to see them being appreciated by a new generation for the influence they made in music industry.” Suniula was then enlisted by fellow friend and mentor Bow Legged Lou of Full Force, to look at doing a re-write of the groups Biography which she turned into a Pictorial Biography. “Bow Legged Lou became a good friend and it was a pleasure to be able to do something for them, he was very influential in my decision to take up music promotions.”
It wasn’t long before Suniula Daniels reconnected with Muzicheadz Director Martha Samasoni who took her on board to mentor and develop another side of Suniula she never thought she would be part of with Muzicheadz.com.
“Martha, introduced me to a whole new world of media as she showed me the techniques to interviewing, creating a radio show, and just the whole professional side of the music industry. I do have much respect for her drive and credibility she brings to the table. I learned so much from her, you know together we could be likened to the Caped Crusaders of Muzicheadz.com. Of courseMartha would say she was Batman and I was Robin (laughs), but seriously she gave me some great tools in assisting me, both on a personal and professional level.”
Suniula was later enlisted to tour manage NZ Artists Anita Prime who was heading to the 2011 LA Music Awards to collect her award for Video of the Year (La La La). “It was such a great privilege to tour with Anita Prime and her music producer Ron Thaler and the bonus of travelling with my cousin Pauline Sauvao who was doing backup vocals for Anita.” While on tour with Anita, Suniula was able to meet with some of her close R&B Hip Hop friends as well as a chance meeting with Jackie Jackson as she attended a rehearsal session.
“I was fortunate to meet Michael Jackson in the early 90’s at a signing on his History tour, but I never thought I would ever meet another Jackson, let alone be at a band rehearsal, it was surreal. But as I listened and watched the backline rehearse, I was taken back to my uncle handing me my first album; it also reminded me that Michael was no longer with us, so there were some very mixed emotions on that day.”
You will find Suniula now fine tuning her skills in interviewing and promoting artists from all over the world for Muzicheadz.com. She has also branched out as an A&R for Ritmo Records, as well as being part of the crew for international touring artists, even stage managing KC & Jojo in Wellington on their NZ tour. “You can say I’ve gone full circle, from spinning some of these Ol Skool R&B Hip Hop artists to now interviewing them, is a dream come true. I feel very blessed to be where I am now. I have had trials and tribulations like I’m sure many have been through, but they do make you the person you are today, so in saying that, I leave you with a quote I read one day that sums up how I feel.”
“…..Focus on where you are going, but don’t regret where you have been, every pain and scar shaped you into the person you are today.”
By Martha Samasoni