Charisse C

There can be many names to describe one of the leaders in dance music and cultural trailblazers Charisse C. A DJ, artist, label owner, NTS Resident and African dance music ambassador she now adds singer/songwriter to her list for her debut EP ‘EVERGREEN’. Previously a music journalist, she describes herself as a vessel and storyteller. Rooted in her Zimbabwean and South African heritage, raised in the UK, Charisse C has been acclaimed by Mixmag as “building a bridge between continents.” Her sound is curious, soulful and bass-heavy; commanding international dance floors with a playful and intentional demeanour. Abantu, which she started as a radio show in 2020, has since evolved into a night curated and headlined by Charisse C herself; celebrating its third birthday with a sold out show at London’s Village Underground.

Charisse C is spearheading the electronic dance music soundscape with amapiano rooted sets that explore the breadth of African dance music. Her authority on the genre has led her to host London’s first amapiano Boiler Room as well as play three Boiler Room sets of her own, perform at Afro Nation, Benji B’s Deviation party, support Scorpion Kings at Printworks and Major League DJz at The Warehouse Project, amongst others. 2024 sees Charisse C championed by Beatport’s Next up programme as she prepares to release her debut EP under her own label. DMC WORLD checks in…


Charisse C, a huge welcome to DMCWORLD! Where in the world are you today?

Thank you! Right now I am in Reading, in the UK.

Tell us about your early days discovering music…

My early days of discovering music consisted of listening to everything from Reggae to Kwaito to R&B in my Dad’s car, South African Gospel and the likes of Whitney Houston from my Mum, downloading music and sharing it via bluetooth during school lunches, handwriting weekly lists of songs for my uncle to burn on CDs for me, downloading music from limewire with my older cousin, the glory days of Soundcloud and so much more!

How did your Zimbabwe and South Africa and being raised in London influence your music journey?

The intersections of my identity have made me the artist and the storytelling I am today; my approach to everything I do is wholly influenced by how I was raised.

A really exciting time for you right now thanks to the release of your debut ‘EVERGREEN’ EP. Please talk us through your music on the EP…

The EP is a 3-Step project, still rooted in Amapiano and all the things most people know me for, but as always I am ever evolving, which is one of the reasons why the EP is called EVERGREEN.

With this EP, I introduce a new layer of my artistry, Charisse C the singer/songwriter. I wanted to create a body of work that I feel represents me sonically, but also speaks to where I was at in life in the process of making it. The EP follows a succinct storyline, but each song has its own essence. ‘Angisafuni’, recorded in South Africa, is reminiscent of old school South African House music. ‘Morning Sun’ is more of an R&B/Pop/Amapiano fusion, whilst ‘What I Need’ really speaks to my love for alternative R&B. Nguva Yangu is a heartfelt spiritual song; an ode to Zimbabwe.

On this EP you have added singer and songwriter to your list – how did this transition come about?

I’ve always sung, to be a singer was my first dream as a child. I had a notebook I used to write songs in. I sang in church, I sang at school, I was always singing but I shied away from pursuing it as a career. Music has always been at the centre of what I do, transitioning from music journalist, to DJ, to producer and now to singer/songwriter. I got to a point where I was like, why am I not using all of the gifts I’ve been blessed with? Why not me? I have ideas that I want to bring to life, the voice to do so, the stories to tell and the ability to write them. It’s about time I step into my fullness and truly embrace that artist I have always been.

How would you describe your sound to others?

Curious, bass-heavy, soulful, experimental but always intentional. My sound sits at the intersection of a number of worlds,

As well as being an artist, and DJ, you also own your own label Abantu – tell us more about this

Yes, Abantu started as a radio show on No Signal in 2020, evolved into a party in 2022, and as of 2024 is now a record label with my EP being the first release on it. I’m so excited to keep building this holistic hub for Southern African music and cultures.

How do you build bridges between continents in music and tell stories through it?

I started my career in music as a journalist and I’ve always been a storyteller at heart. Whether I’m curating radio shows and interviewing artists to document and archive the future history of this music, or I’m curating line-ups that connect dots and bridge worlds, or I’m producing/writing music that brings all of the words that I am a part of together. I always start with a clear intention and progress from there.

How easy was it for you to explore the various sounds of African countries and expand your mind? Who were the artists that sparked fireballs in your ears?

It was easy in the sense that I’ve grown up immersed in the sounds and cultures of various African countries so that I didn’t need to go far for that inspiration, a lot of that is already within me and I’m grateful to have had such a rich cultural upbringing. I’m also a very curious listener and student of music, so I’m constantly digging and discovering which also becomes the source of so much inspiration.

What’s been your pinnacle moment of your music career so far?

Wow, there have been so many. I’d say things really shifted after I did my first Boiler Room in 2021. I’ve never travelled this much in my life before, my music career has come with so many new and incredible experiences, and it’s crazy to think that I actually haven’t even reach the pinnacle, there is so much yet to come.

What’s coming up for you for the rest of the year?

Summer is coming! Festival season, we’re touring and I’m so excited to play this new music across festival season! More music, and the steady growth of the label!