Updated: Jan 16
We sat down with Hangaëlle Mucuiu, a Toronto based Mozambican-Canadian DJ to learn more about her and her journey within the music and entertainment industry.
Q. Who is Hangaëlle Mucuiu? A. A Mozambican force.
Q. What drives your passion for life? A. Music is my passion and an integral part of my life. Q. Why Djing and how did it all start? A. I've always loved music. I had just graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in Computer Science, Psychology & Linguistics. I decided I wanted to pursue my passion for music, that I'd had all my life. I was always intrigued and impressed by the art of DJing. So I downloaded software, bought a friend's old controller and had them show me a few things. I then decide to attend the Scratch Academy in NYC to learn basic technical skills. At the time, I worked in Toronto full time and went to NYC on weekends. It was a wild five weeks, but it was worth it; I had also never been to NYC before, so that was fun in itself! When I completed the program at Scratch, I came back and started going door to door & dm to dm just to see what would happen. The first party I played was on Halloween - a full 4 hours. The first spot that gave me a monthly was Lets Be Frank. Djing was kinda like my gateway drug into music. I learnt for fun and as a hobby. With time, things progressed in the most natural fashion, and now I'm here...with DJ accomplishments I had never imagined.
Q. What's been your most memorable moment in music? A. In music, opening for Erykah Badu. I still can't believe that was real life and MY life. DJing for Amazon in Seattle is up there too & DJing in the Bahamas and the most beautiful country on earth aka Mozambique.
Q. How has the music industry changed since you first got into it? What's been your greatest lesson? A. I think the "scene" is more diverse now, and the amount of gatekeeping is less intense. When I started, I did mostly corporate stuff. I didn't grow up here, so didn't know the people who you "needed to know" to get gigs at the time, and I used to always see the same names on flyers. Things have changed quite a bit, for the better—more women DJs too, which is cool. Way more diversity at parties- you can go to all types of parties and hear all kinds of music.
I didn't know that there was a huge lesson to take away from this for me personally. Maybe if anyone feels like they don't know how to get into the industry, just keep pushing, working on your craft, showing up to things you want to be involved in and asking how you can help as well as knocking on doors (metaphorically). Eventually, someone will give you that first opportunity, and your passion will no longer go unnoticed. Also, create your own lane. Even if you think it already kind of exists - it doesn't, it'll be unique cause it's yours, and really there is space for all of us to flourish in this industry while being supportive of others.
Q. What was the very 1st song that you fell in love with? How old were you and where in the world where you? A. Probably something by Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston. My passion for music started with them from when I was old enough to baby bounce and mouth half words half gibberish lyrics. I was probably in South Africa or Mozambique.
Q. Are there any African musicians or genres that you listen to frequently, and why? A. I listen to African music frequently as its part of my job as a DJ, who is part of the Kuruza collective (@kuruzaaa on Instagram), to share the diverse sounds from the continent. What I listen to on a daily basis depends on my mood. Sometimes it's the likes of Cesaria Evora or Ghorwane, other times it's South African DJs and Amapiano, sometimes its African rappers and RnB singers and other times its Alte and Afrobeats. The list goes on. I challenge myself to explore music from the continent always to have something fresh and unexpected to bring to the table. The other day I explored music from Mali, Senegal and Ivory Coast just because I was curious. I treat listening to African Music as a magical sonic exploration - there's so much beauty, so much talent and so much to learn from the stories these songs tell.
Q. What advice would you give other women looking to get into the music industry? A. Be yourself, unapologetically. Figure out where you wanna be and set small goals that allow you to get there. Show up to events you want to be part of, show support and introduce yourself. Be ready to take Ls and make mistakes. Be kind to yourself when you do. Take risks and share your work. Don't quit your day job until the income is stable. Ask people for advice, ask questions and maybe find a mentor. Don't compare your timelines and success with others.
Q. Africa! What does it mean to you? How has it shaped the person you are today? A. Africa is a continent with endless potential. It is a continent with an abundance of beautiful places to see, people to meet, cultures to learn about, and the incredible food! Africa is home - more specifically, Mozambique. Both fill me with pride. I grew up there, so it's shaped my mentality, a lot of my morals and beliefs and growing up there has taught me invaluable lessons both in school and in life.
Q. What amazing things should the world know about Mozambique, Eswatini and South Africa that you've experienced?
A. I can’t summarize that in a few words as that would be extremely reductive of these places. So, I encourage you to look these places up and do some research. But in short: Mozambique is paradise on earth and has some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever see (search "Bazaruto" for starters).
Our spirit is undeniable. Our women are the backbone of the nation. Our food is so amazing Nandos had to come pree the recipe to guarantee their success. Our music and dance are so flawless the queen B herself had to fly Mozambicans out to teach her choreo firsthand for "Run The World (Girls)". I don't make the rules, Mozambique is just amazing. Eswatini is a small country, but I made great friendships and memories there. They have a dope yearly festival called Bush Fire (which will be online this year). Its a kingdom. Mixed kids are called Brainos, and nothing slaps harder than Swazi KFC..well, perhaps Swazi Gold does. The best Shishanyama spots I been to where in Eswatini. Waterford Kamhlaba, the Southern African United World College, is located in Eswatini and happens to be the coolest school in that country. South Africa, last but not least, has the best dancers in Africa. Great music comes from there and really amazing DJs—lots to visit from nature to wildlife to historic sites. One of my favorite places is Cape Town, which is where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean meet. Vineyards, beaches where you can swim with penguins, Table Mountain, Robben Island etc. etc. the list goes on for things to visit in the city. South Africa also just unintentionally has some really comedic moments in politics - which are often transformed into catchy songs (search "uBaba kaDuduzane"). South Africa is also where Debonaires pizza originated - 10/10.
We host monthly parties at the Drake Underground where we play diverse sounds from Africa while fusing them with other genres and sounds from different continents. Kuruza started years back, with Kiga and Natasha wanting to recreate the party experience they had back home. They hit pause for a bit, and then Kiga came and recruited me for the relaunch and maybe two months in, Minzi reached out to Kiga to join. Since then, we've been working together to create euphoric experiences at our parties as well as working with emerging African artists to help share the diverse sounds of the continent with our audiences. We want to expand people's knowledge of what it means to be an African artist/creative. We work with African creatives and aim to create platforms for them to flex their creativity. We absolutely love our growing community and hope to continue to create opportunities while uplifting one another. Kuruza is a Gang - A blended Familia where everyone is welcome, and everyone is celebrated.
Q. Where can people find you and listen to some of your mixes? A. I am the only Hangaëlle so I won't be hard to find :) - my name is my handle for everything (Instagram, SoundCloud, Mixcloud, Twitter)