Connect with us

Interviews

Donald On New Album, Staying Real And Policy on Fueds – INTERVIEW

In this exclusive interview with QuenchSA, Donald shares his ambitions to become an icon, and more!

Published

on

Donald recently delighted fans with the arrival of his latest album, Her Name Is?

The 20-track project, which boasts high-powered collaborations with the likes of DJ Tira, Thabsie and amongst others Mlindo The Vocalist, marks the singer’s triumphant return to the zeitgeist. “I’ve done this five times”, he says of the gruelling schedule that comes with album releases.

He’s a Pro by now, but those early mornings just never get easier. The machinations that come with promoting a new album require an element of athleticism. 

What most find intriguing about Donald is his evergreen presence in the culture. He’s managed to stay on top of his game without switching his sound to appease the market. “I don’t try to be relevant, I just do what feels good to me”, he tells QuenchSA, explaining how he’s kept true to his sound despite the ever shifting landscape.

We caught up with singer and conversed about the new album, the tricks of the trade sustaining his relevance and the pains that attend to being an artist.

The album recording process is done and it’s onto the promotional aspect. I imagine your schedule is different right now… 

Yeah,  which means few hours of sleep!

…But I hear artists are very nocturnal, creating mainly during the night. Is that true? 

Yeah, but now I am not creating much as I’m in the promo phase. It becomes harder because I have to try and sleep early, which I’m not used to.

Because it’s performance season? 

Yeah, like you have to wake up early. Sometimes I will have like 6’o clock  and 7 o’clock call times. For me it’s tough, but I think so far I have received great practice because I’ve been doing this for a while now. This is my fifth album. So I have done this five times already in the past ten years.

I mean, you are an expert… 

(laughs) I am getting better!

You have been around for a long time and you are still creating. People blow up and disappear. How do you do it? 

Ey man… I think one of the things that are mainly important is to keep the main thing the main thing. I try not to do too many things because I want to focus on one thing and make sure I do it perfectly. I think knowing what your bigger goal is helps you to be able to deal with the every day movement. I know my bigger goal is to be a South African music legend and have a legacy.

When I am gone people can look back and be like “Eish! mara this guy, this guy’s career was such a story…” You know? I really want to be that guy. I want people to look at me the way they look at Oskido, Hugh Masikela, Jonas Gwangwa, Mariam Makeba etc…

You’ve stayed true to your sound. How are you able to be so resilient to the obvious temptation to jump on a new wave that sells? 

I’ve noticed that trying to stay relevant is not easy to achieve. So don’t try to stay relevant, just focus on having a story to tell at that moment. Tell it the best way you know. Artists who are known for what they do specifically are those artists you will always remember.

When you say a name like Thandiswa Mazwai, you don’t even have to ask. You can just tell through her voice even, if it’s a new song. How she achieved that was by always being herself and not trying to fit in. I think I’m that type of artist. I don’t try to fit in, I do what feels good to me…

I think you’ve reached that level too, in some ways. One can look at a young artist and be like, ‘Oh, he’s the next Donald’. There’s definitely a distinct identity you have. 

I hear those conversations a lot, especially when Idols comes on air! Like, I always hear a Donald reference. I think last week Somizi was commenting on a contestant and made reference to a ‘Donald-like thing’ in the conversation. It’s always humbling and encouraging to hear people saying stuff like that.  That there is a thing about you that you have that everybody knows. It tells me whatever I’ve been through, including the pain, was not in vain.

What kind of pain have you been through?

Things don’t always work out the way you have planned, you know? You come across challenges, and I have came across a lot. You can ask anyone who sings and who is successful. They will tell you about the challenges because to be successful, you have to be challenged the most and the challenges don’t determine who you are but they make you strong and you always get better, no matter  how hard it is.  I am inspired by people who go all out to be achievers… like Bonang. I can relate. Like, I see myself in her and I know how much pain that woman has to go through. The struggles and challenges you don’t see.

You’ve have kept a very clean brand’, is that intentional or is that like are authentic reflection of you character?

I mean, a part of it is…the intentional part of it is not to share too much of my personal life. That is intentional. The simple things that I do on a daily basis… I don’t think that is of interest. Like I don’t think that is why am here. I kind of try and figure out and find why I am in this industry. What is it that I have to offer? I offer my message of love, not what T-shirt I prefer to wear when we get home at 7 o’clock…

Do you have any feud with anyone in the industry?

No. I have learnt to accept that people are just the way they are and have their own choices. It’s not worth me even sharing it on social media. Conflict does not grow the industry, it holds us back. We grow when we actually encourage each other…

You have a neat discography with hits and well received albums. Do you still get nervous before releasing new work? 

I think being nervous of how people will receive the music is the natural thing, and it shows that you care. Yes, I do get nervous and worry sometimes! Like, when the album dropped you know that is why I tweeted something and people just made a big deal out of it because Twitter is Twitter, but I tweeted ‘I haven’t seen even one negative comment about my album’. People were responding like, ‘why are you looking for negative things?’ and ‘This tweet is so negative.’

All I was saying was in this world there is so much negativity, especially on Twitter. It’s very rare that you release an album and not hear someone say ‘this is a shitty album’. I was like humbled that after three days I had not seen any of those negative things, you know?

Is there any song that has an important meaning to you or is closer to your heart on the album? 

Mina Nawe is very special for me because I think it ticks all the boxes. I rate that song as probably the best song I have ever recorded. From a songwriting point of view to the production, the mixing… like everything for me… I would admire it if it was another artist’s song…

Then there is another song called Ngiyazi.  That song is little bit more personal. The story is quite personal, but I also listen to it like a fan of music. I hear it and I think that is definitely it is my most relevant songs in the album. I do love every single song that is on that album though

How did you decide on the collaborations in this album?

Most of it was just organic. I would start a song and then hear someone’s voice in it. That’s how I would be inspired to get someone on it. The Zanda and Thabsie collaborations happened when I was working on the songs but kept on hearing these artists on the songs. The Mlindo collaboration was not even planned. I met up with him at a club and then asked him if he was busy the following day. When he said no, I was like ‘ntwana come to the studio…’ It’s magic.

What’s the one thing that shocks you or your fans about you right now?

One that people don’t know about me is that, do you eat noodles? Those two minute noodles. Does it make sense to eat noodles with eggs? I eat noodles with eggs and that is one of my favourite meals of all time!

Join the Conversation By Leaving Your Comment In The Comments Section Below, on Twitter and Facebook

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Interviews

INTERVIEW: Wanda Baloyi On Finding Her Voice

Published

on

Exclusive Music Interview with South African Jazz singer Wanda Baloyi

Wanda Baloyi’s musical evolution has been a thrill to witness.

Having started out as a member of popular girl group ‘Ghetto Luv’, she quickly transitioned out of the definitive early 2000’s upbeat Kwaito era to a jazzier sound.

The songbird was raised in a musical family, a journey which was heavily influenced by her father Jaco Maria, a Cape Town singer and lead vocalist for 1980’s group Ozila. As such, it was inevitable that Wanda would sooner unleash her creative agility.

On her debut album Voices, Baloyi let go of the fierce hooks that had characterised her initial musical era, and started slowing down the tempo to showcase her beautiful vocals over delightful melodies.

Exclusive Music Interview with South African Jazz singer Wanda Baloyi

And while that was almost two decades ago, the songstress maintains that music must be a platform for authentic storytelling. “Our people want to know about us”, she says. “They want to know what the issues we are dealing with are, our story, our language and our rhythm.”

After taking a breather and retreating from the trappings of popular culture and the zeitgeist, as it where, Wanda makes a triumphant to the spotlight with new music.

This season, which kicks off with ‘Umendo’, finds her content and assured in who she is.

“What’s new about me as an artist, and as a woman, is I’m more content about who and where I am. I’ve accepted things that I cannot change.”

Consistent with her commitment to telling stories that help others relate and find a sense of healing, ‘Umendo’ gives a voice to the blowback African women face when leaving marriages.

“It talks about a failed marriage and the expectations of the wife in the African cultural content, and the shame of having to go back home and face your family, face the community with that title of coming from a failed marriage”, she tells us.

In this interview, Wanda Baloyi reflects on the treasures of experiences that have shaped her new outlook on life, how she has found her voice, as well as how the new music aims to shine a light on parts of ourselves that yearn to be known.

Q: It’s always fascinating finding out about the frenzy that follows the release of new music for an artist…

Because I haven’t been doing it for a while, it feels a little bit new. But for me, it’s obviously just a process that you have to get through. So it’s fun and exciting to get people to know what you’ve been working on and what the project is about.

Q: Obviously it’s a different feeling from the day just before you release new work. What is that like, the emotions before releasing a new song?

It’s mixed emotions. There’s this anxious feeling because you’ve been creating this baby, you’ve been in studio doing whatever you can do to make this baby sound proper, and you are happy with it… you are excited!

But now taking it to the next step and to the audience… it’s like literally stripping yourself naked and expecting people to be like “Woah! Hot body!” (Laughs) So it’s a bit scary and exciting because before you let go, you, yourself are content and happy with it. If it starts with your happiness, the rest is not in your control.

Q: Is that possibly the scariest thing about being an artist?

There are many scary things about being an artist. Being an artist in itself is scary! Being able to release and let go of your projects to the world is scary. Being onstage is scary. Being unproductive and not being relevant in terms of being loyal to your craft, is scary because you feel God has blessed you with this talent, so why aren’t you doing anything with it?

That’s scary on its own. Just the fact that you are haunted by this gift on a daily basis is scary because it also affects your relationships and a whole lot of things. It’s a very selfish talent, by the way. It demands so much of you that whoever is with you is going to have to be with ya’ll.

There also many scary elements of the industry itself, but in that scariness its exciting and fun! There’s no day that you wake up with nothing to do… There’s a bit of both in it, and I think that in life, if you don’t do anything scary, you won’t do anything exciting.

Q: Your latest single Umendo. Tell us about the genesis of the song

First of all, I worked with a really amazing talent. Dr. Sipho Sithole who has worked with amazing artists in South Africa.

That’s on its own was an exciting collaboration.

I had given him the vision of what I wanted to do on the project, and I think because he was long ready to work with me, he was like, ‘I got you!’ From the first day when we recorded the first song, till the last, it was a breeze. It was an amazing experience. It was more fun than it was work.

I wanted the project to have meaning in terms of the messages we are talking about in the songs. I wanted it to have depth in the storytelling.

And not only stories that are personal to myself, but things we go through in society, in the continent, in the world. As a woman, as a black woman and as Africans. I wanted the issues to be topical.

In this case ‘Umendo’ talks about marriage. I’m not married by the way, not yet! (Laughs).

What I love about the topic is it talks about a failed marriage and the expectations of the wife in the African cultural content, and the shame of having to go back home and face your family, face the community with that title of coming from a failed marriage.

It’s about having to take your children back and having to explain. The whole issue of it being difficult for a woman to remove herself from a situation while being judged.

It’s expected for you because ‘Hawu, you are married mos. Stay there! Hold on. Fight for it!’ But there are certain things that take so much from you that you have to free yourself. Already in the country, we are dealing with gender based violence and so many issues, that the stories are not being voiced in song.

This is a song that creates and provokes conversation. It gets people to talk about it. Someone sitting somewhere will be like, ‘yo I’m in this situation and I can get out of it.’

Q: Do you feel that in the South African music industry and the space we take up in the world, that we are telling our authentic stories?

I think we are now. I’m inspired by the new talent. They are very fearless, and decisive about what they want to say in their songs. I can make an example about Samthing Soweto and Sjava. Those artists are talking about real issues.

I think what connects them to people is the audience is that realness. Someone sitting elokshini or wherever would be like ‘uSjava ukhuluma ngami’ (Sjava is talking about me), or is talking about an issue that I can deeply relate to because this is my reality.

So I think we are. We are delving into ourselves. We have revisited our roots and gone back to the source. Our people want to know about us. They want to know what the issues we are dealing with are, our story, our language and our rhythm.

Q: People completely evolve every five years. This being the beginning of a new era for you, what is new about as a person as an artist?

What’s new about me as an artist and as a woman is I’m more content about who and where I am. I’ve accepted things that I cannot change. I’m truer to myself than I was before.

I think maturing, growing and going through experiences, trials and tribulations, puts you in a space where you become a complete package of yourself. These things are not comparable to anyone else. It’s a personal space where you find contentment and fulfilment with yourself.

And I must say, I’ve become a little more spiritual and I think that brings you there. The world can be so hectic. The world can easily lead you astray if you don’t have a sense of focus and coming back to your sanity and alignment. For me it’s prayer, it’s my mom. She is a constant reminder of what I can become. Also, it’s okay for you to express yourself and tell your stories in a manner that is comfortable for you.

Q: What inspires you, ultimately?

Life. I’m inspired by life, I’m inspired by truth and I’m inspired by many things! I love coming back to my experiences, and that’s my truth. I’m inspired by pain because I relate to it, I recognise it, I’m familiar with it. That can be a little bit good, because it forces you to come out of it.

Pain in the same way as depression is a reminder of where you aren’t supposed to be, or what you don’t want. So when you feel that, go in. It’s healing, when you face your pain. I’m also inspired by people in general, by other musicians

Q: You grew up in a musical family. What was that moment for you when you knew music is certainly what you want to do?

Yes, I’m from a musical family. My dad is a musician, he’s an amazing vocalist.  I think growing up in a musical family, I didn’t really know I was going to be a musician. It’s just something that was there. I was surrounded by it. I loved it and there was always some time of excitement.

As I grew older, I started to find my voice and passion and I was like, ‘This space makes me happy.’ But it wasn’t something where I sat down and decided, ‘Oh, I’m going to do this’. It just captured me.

Q: What’s been the most definitive moment in your career so far?

The realisation that I can not live without it. In whatever shape or form.

Discover New Music Music, Exclusive Interviews and Album Reviews on QuenchSA.com!

Continue Reading

Interviews

INTERVIEW: Mafikizolo Talks Staying Power, Milestones And New Single

The iconic duo can’t stress enough the importance of respecting one’s craft.

Published

on

Mafikizolo
Photo Credit: Supplied

Back in 2015 on the Boomtown stage at the Durban July, I had the privilege of experiencing first hand the magic that informs the staying power that has sustained Mafikizolo’s chart dominance since they first entered the music scene, with their bhujwa swag, in the late 90’s.

Midway through the performance of their #1 hit Khona, Nhlanhla’s shoelaces started coming off, threatening to set in motion a devastating series of events that would have seen her take a tumble and plunge into the crowd.

Instead, what happened next would become a watershed moment that can school any formation about the power of authentic synergy. Theo quickly went down on his knees to tighten the shoelaces without disrupting the flow of their energetic delivery.

South African Music News: Mafikizolo Interview

Mafikizolo return to their roots in 2019 single, ‘Ngeke Balunge’. Photo Credit: Supplied

All this was done without missing a beat.

It’s this laser sharp focus and a display of teamwork that would see one of South Africa’s best selling music acts of all time cultivate not only a discography like no other, but also the rare ability to stay relevant for more than two decades.

“We don’t want to limit ourselves based on our past victories.”

And while we are sure the iconic duo, consisting of Nhlanhla Nciza and Theo Kgosinkwe, can publish several books detailing the trade secrets that have given them more than nine lives, humility and maintaining respect for one’s craft are the keys behind Mafikizolo’s success.

“We never feel like we’ve arrived”, says Nhlanhla, despite the duo’s global success, which includes their work being displayed at Grammy Museum alongside the likes of Micheal Jackson, Elton John and Elvis Presley.

South African Music News: Mafikizolo 2019 Interview

Mafikizolo makes a triumphant return to the scene with new single, ‘Ngeke Balunge’

Despite the unprecedented milestones, their blockbuster catalogue and their status as one of Africa’s most celebrated living legends, Mafikizolo are plotting their next move. We caught up with the duo as they distilled their 22 years of unleashing street anthems while influencing the soundscape through their multiple reinventions.

Congrats on the new single, ‘Ngeke Balunge’. How did the song come about?

Theo: We collaborated with Mondli Ngcobo on this track. He produced it. I think it’s because we’ve always had a relationship with him. He’s always wanted to write something for us a long time ago. I guess he’s always wanted to write that one particular song.

He’s always said, “I want to work with you guys but I want to write that perfect song for you.” So I think the timing is perfect. He’s actually got two songs for us. He came to Joburg and presented the two songs. We recorded the songs and we chose this one as the first single. That’s how it all came about. I think it’s because he’s been following Mafikizolo for a long time. He’s been our fan and we’ve been fans of his work.

From the songs, how did you decide on this one to be the first single?

Nhlanhla: Well, we knew definitely that we wanted to go back to our original sound. We missed the days of Emlanjeni, Mas’thokoze, Ubahlula Bonke… you know? The days of ballads. I mean, we know and understand that there’s Gqom, there’s House and Amapiano that have taken over. Still, we wanted something that will be different from what everyone else is doing. We loved the two tracks that he presented to us but the first single is the one that blew everyone away. It blew us away!

What’s funny is that the track – because every time I get a track I would just go around and play for people – I played the two tracks to see which one they loved the most. And funny enough, even the younger people… because we thought we are targeting the older audience, but even the younger people are crazy about the song. So it was really easy for us to decide.

Real talk, it’s such a beautiful song…

Theo: Indeed! And just adding on Nhlanhla and what she was saying. You know, when Khona came out… there’s something about the song that you don’t know what it is about it that makes people move. It’s a spiritual thing because you don’t know what it is about the song that moves you so much… you can’t figure it out. Because, I thought when we were busy posting the song, I thought ‘Ah this is an urban Zulu song.’ And then you get people from Zambia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe singing and posting the song! They love the song. They might not understand it, but they love it. They’ve been saying, ‘What a spiritual song!’

Nhlanhla: Even South Africans are like, ‘thing song does somethings to me, emotionally. I get so emotional and sometimes I wanna cry when I listen to the song.’ That was not even our intention, we just wanted to do a love song. Some people don’t even know that it’s actually a love song. They are thinking it’s like… impi (war).

Theo: Let me add to this. If they don’t miss out on this, this song could be a perfect song for Amabhokobhoko (The Springboks). It’s a perfect victory song for them because they can say… (sings) ’Abadede impela, kufike izingwazi’. It’s got that chant!

So if you had to choose a perfect song that is relevant for the victory that we brought as South Africa and Amabhokobhoko. It might be a love song, but it’s one that unites. (Breaks into song again) Angeke bas’xelele abayeke umona. It unites and at the same time it’s about love and celebration. I’m punting the song to be the official theme. If anyone is looking for a song to celebrate Amabhokobhoko, this is the song!

Nhlanhla: Or any victory! Even you as a person. You can say, I’m trying do this and there are people around me who are not rooting for me and are negative towards what I’m trying to do. You are saying ‘Ngeke balunge’, you know? Ngeke bangiqede. Abadede! Its a victory song more than anything

With the victory theme, I got a sense that the song paid homage to how resilient Mafikizolo has been. As people who’ve worked together for so long, how have you managed to continue working together well for this long?

Theo: I think the dream of success never really died. We don’t want to limit ourselves based on our past victories because there are new challenges to be won and new goals to be reached. We keep reinventing ourselves and wanting to work with different producers who can bring a different sound. On our previous album, we worked with DJ Maphorisa. This time around we were blessed to work with Mondli Ngcobo and as we plan for our album next year, we plan to work with other emerging producers and songwriters. We love reinventing ourselves.

For us to have this staying power, it’s because we love reinvention. We always challenge ourselves and be like, ‘What can we come with that can be new without losing ourselves?’ Even though it might be a new sound to our fans, but we don’t lose our core as Mafikizolo. Like I said, there are a lot of challenges. We still have victories to win. We want to conquer Africa, we want to conquer Europe and the world.

Nhlanhla: Also being open to learning. Always! We never feel like we’ve arrived. We’ve never, even when we’ve had some of the biggest songs previously. We are always open to learning to better ourselves and our sound, which is the most important thing. Also, when I quote the Bible, God says, ‘Lift yourself up and I shall humble you. Humble yourself and I should lift you up.’ I think for a younger person it may like ‘Oh, abantu abadala.’ But it really goes a long way – being humble, respecting your craft and respecting fans, and yourself, and remaining humble no matter what you become.

It is a distinct sound… There’s that Mafikizolo element, but it certainly sounds elevated. Does this now inform the sound of the new era, with the new album coming out next year?

Theo: We never really want to box ourselves around a particular sound and it’s always been like that from day one. Since we started recording with Kalawa in 1997, we’ve never said, like ‘Okay now, we are doing a love ballad album and we are staying there.’ Or ‘Now, we are doing Afro Pop.’ Like, we gooi! If it sounds good and it’s not totally opposite our sound…

Nhlanhla: Yeah, I mean we are a Pop band so we are very much opening to trying new things and experimenting with new sounds. I think also with this particular song, when we heard it, the influences were many, you know? We’ve always been influenced by musicians from earlier days. Like your Mam’ Letta (Letta Mbuli) and Tat’u Caiphus Semenya and Mama Miriam Makeba. We were always inspired by them.  When you listen to Chicco… the Dalom Kids…

You can actually pick these influences that we grew up listening to, but also the old Mafikizolo. So I think it was perfect because we love old songs. But like Theo said, we really  love experimenting with new sounds. Even when we heard this song, yes, it has that Mafikizolo touch but there’s something in there we’ve never done before. So we went ahead and did it.

Already, we’ve worked on other songs, which you will get to know about next year, along with the people we’ve worked with. It’s things we’ve never done and people you’d never think we would get to work with. It’s always interesting and it’s a part of reinvention.

What do young artists need to know about staying power?

Theo: I’ll go back to what Nhlanhla said before, and what we always uphold. It’s humility and respect. Humility becomes before honour. We always feel like even if you are a superstar, stay humble. Stay humble and God will lift you up. Don’t let your fame change you. It can be a confusing thing because you’ve just arrived, and you are singing everywhere. People who were never your friends are now your friends. You are getting money you never got. Sadly, the record companies don’t tell you these things. They don’t tell you that you will be famous and have a lot of money, and then these things will start happening to you… save your money, don’t act this way.

They are just excited that you are successful. And then, because no one ever sat you down, spoke to you or coached you about fame, you tend to have the ego thing. You don’t wanna take pictures with people anymore, you don’t respect your craft onstage, you don’t do interviews or you arrive late for them. It can change you and it can be a confusing stage for you. We always say, remain humble, stay passionate about your work. That’s the most important thing, which we always emphasise. Being humble will keep you for a very long time.

What have been the biggest milestone for Mafikizolo so far?

Nhlanhla (Laughs) Yoh! (To Theo…) Do you wanna start? There’s just so, so, so that much has happened. So many bad things have happened as well. Honestly, I can’t just think of one…

Theo: Yes, there’s a few. I think it’s an honour always to perform for people who are in higher places. Like when you have to go and perform for a President, and the President stands up and dances to your song… You feel like ‘wow, we are in the presence of honour’. For us to perform for the 46664 back in the days of our late President, Nelson Mandela… To meet him officially. Not only did we perform in South Africa but we also performed in Norway for him.

And I think for Nhlanhla – the highlight that she might not remember – was when she was dancing with the President of Uganda. Presidents are always stiff (laughs) but… for the first time! People were like, ‘how did you manage to dance with the President!?’ We’ve performed for Presidents… we’ve done the Davos Economic Forum, where all the leaders of the world were there and we had to perform. We had to perform ‘Ndihamba Nawe’.

I remember Mama Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was also there. They were very proud. They stood up and danced. Other Presidents… from Germany, ambassadors. Everyone stood up and dance. We’ve performed for royalty and we’ve travelled the world. For us it’s been an honour. We’ve shared stages with big international artists. Our work was displayed at the Grammy Museum. The way that we dress and our music was featured next to your Micheal Jacksons, your Elton Johns and your Elvis Presley.

It’s some of the things that our South African people might not know about, but we feel very honoured by the opportunity that God has blessed us with, to be able to touch so many people. When we travel, we have sold out shows. We are like ‘Wow! We are in Canada, sold out! We are in Australia, sold out!’ We have achieved a lot and we feel there’s a lot that still needs to be achieved.

What can fans expect from the upcoming album?

Theo: It’s going to be a beautiful album. I’m glad that we’ve grabbed the attention of our fans who’ve been fans from Emlanjeni. The more mature audience might have felt like we’ve probably lost them, and we thought we probably thought we lost them. They might be like, ‘Hawu, where are they!?” We thought they are gone, but they haven’t left. Even when we released Khona, they were still there. We’ve realised that every time we do a show, most fans who come have been there since the Lotto days.  They are very loyal and excited about this single. We promise them beautiful love songs.

The younger audience who has just joined us… we promise them a very versatile album. It’s all about love! We celebrate love all the time! There will be dance tracks, there will be Afro Pop and love ballads on the album. It’s the same Mafikizolo, but on another level.

Ngeke Balunge is out now! Stream it here

Read Our Exclusive Interviews and Album Reviews!

Continue Reading

Interviews

INTERVIEW: Prince Kaybee Talks EMAs, World Domination and Retiring In Flip Flops

In this exclusive interview, the 30 year old house music dab hands reveals how discipline and a killer work ethic are behind his success.

Published

on

Prince Kaybee exclusive Interview 2019
Photo Credit: Supplied

Some want to retire with a crown. When Prince Kaybee retires, though, he envisions himself with a cigar, whiskey and flip flops. But until then, “it’s crunch time!”

It’s for this reason that he believes people spend too much time busking in the light of their short lived glories, instead of plotting their next move. Rather than waste time amplifying his own milestones, the award winning producer has spent as much time as possible in the studio, where he engineers his sprawling catalogue.

That’s how he’s been at the top for more than five years.

Yet despite churning out a slew of blockbuster street anthems, he still ducks being dubbed an industry leader. “I still have a lot of work to do”, he says, masterminding his looming adventure into the global music market, where he intends to deliver his sound to new audiences.

The plan to conquer the world informs the creative genesis for his recently released Crossover EP, the official manifesto for his campaign to soar to new dimensions.

The house music architect had a clear plan, along with a milkshake in his hands, when we met with him to unpack his new chapter.

Congratulations on your EMA nomination for ‘Best African Act’. How does it feel to be recognised at that level?

It feels great and it’s been a long time coming, you know? It is great for the culture. I feel like I have a responsibility and an EMA is not an individual thing, it’s a South African thing.  Even with the Nasty C nomination, I feel like I have won because that is another platform where we need to represent African music. So it feels great because I look at myself in the mirror and be like, ‘yes we did it!’ But looking at the bigger picture… it’s all about Africa and what we are doing to win.

What does it mean for you to be an African artist in 2019?

It means a lot because we have been through a lot and we have seen people come and go. The past two years have been the most competitive. Looking at what is going on, like music is improving so much so that it is no longer about having one hit song in an album and all the other fifteen be wack.

People actually put in a lot of effort with the whole body of work. Like, you literally sit in and listen to an album and just drive… it’s no longer about just one hit. To answer your question, it feels great because everyone is putting in the work. You feel worthy of something that is part of the collective, or industry peers, that lead the industry.

With people coming in, blowing up, and some disappearing just as quick, how do you maintain the momentum and keep growing?

I don’t understand why artist are at the club all the time. I don’t understand why 90% of the time you are doing things that are not aligned with music when you are an artist, you know? Take a doctor for example. Would you wanna hire a wack doctor? This is your health! You would hire someone who is qualified for that, right? So what do these people do to be qualified?

It’s what they do they in the office from nine to five. I have a schedule as a musician; I have a nine to five. I get at the studio at nine in the morning and leave at 5pm. You won’t find me in the studio after that, except only when I have juicy stuff flowing. But I know my times and I know I have to be there every day. Some artists get in the studio on Monday and they literally leave and come back two months later.

For you to be consistent you actually have to work on your art constantly and give it attention. That’s the only way to do it and that is it. You can read the most expensive book on how to sustain yourself and whatever, but you have to go back to the basic rule of putting in the work because what you put in is what you get out.

Let’s talk about the transition from Re Mmino to The Cross Over EP. You have said that this EP represents a ‘new you’. Who is he and how does he differ from the old Kaybee?

It’s not necessarily a new image, new me or whatever, it is just a crossover of the genre within the genres. I’m doing something different… something outside the norm.

How do you select your collaborators?

Talent is talent, there is no two ways about it. If you work, I will tell you if you are good, let’s work. Why not? If your energy is great… and if you are positive and have certain morals in understanding the principles that I agree with, let’s work. Overall it’s talent but the energy is very important because the studio is a happy place.

This EP aligns with your intentions to venture into the global market. Tell us more about that goal?

As a brand that has done so much in South Africa, I feel like it is now time to say ‘cool guys let’s explore.’ Other people are fine (with keeping it local). There is nothing wrong with that, but I feel I want to cross over and the narrative is as is, crossing over and changing the sound, a bigger audience and letting the European people and that market know about our sound.

When I cross over it does not mean I am going to feature global artists only. I will be crossing over with artists from South Africa. On the EP as well, 90% of artists are South African even though the genre is different.

You’ve said you feel you have done everything to be done in South Africa. What has been your biggest milestone so far?

I don’t think I have a specific one. Like, everything has played a role in itself. I really don’t because since 2015 when I started mainstreaming, I can’t single out just one thing, you understand? Everything makes sense in its growth… it’s the people who interview us,  my family, the music ,the fans… You can’t single out shit.

Do you feel like the biggest artist in South Africa right now?

No!

Then who is?

There are a lot of guys who are doing huge things, like Sun El Musician is a good artist for me. Samthing Soweto is dope. And because I listen to a lot of House Music, I am gonna list a lot of House artists… but there are a lot of artists in the industry who literally shook everything, like Sjava, Sho Madjozi etc. A lot of industry peers are doing great. I feel I am nowhere near, I still have a lot of work to do.

In terms of your transformation, was the change in your look – the fitness and chopping off the dreadlocks – part of your bigger plan?

No, no, no! It isn’t. Remember, you cannot separate. Some people think sometimes I am Kabelo and other times I am Prince Kaybee, but there is no way of separating the two. There is no difference between the brand and the person because you just can’t bro! I feel like when I am on Twitter and type, it’s Kabelo and Prince Kaybee typing at the same time. Everything that I do is for the brand – gym, the change… It’s a reinvention. It’s an on-going challenge of bettering yourself as a person, you know?

Word! You are at top right now. What advice would you give to up and coming artists about getting there?

I don’t know the formula. If I had I would literally give it up. But there is one principle, which is, what you put in is what you get out. This applies to everyone; musicians, journalists, whatever… A lot of artists, especially the young ones that are coming up, they don’t believe in being in the studio every time. Once you have an album out you have to celebrate for six months. Bro, you don’t need to celebrate anything! The only time that celebrations come is when you retire.  When I retire I don’t give a shit where I am, I will always have my cigar because I have done my part. I will have my cigar and whiskey, in my flip flops. I won’t even wear sneakers.

But now it is crunch time bro! I don’t go out on vacations and I don’t go out not because I intend not to do that, I am having fun while working, so that I don’t feel like am straining myself. It’s crunch time. Let’s not start celebrating and blowing our own horns. When you win an award stop telling us for the next 5 years. Forget that award and win another. The young ones are too tied to little accomplishments. I always say one hit song doesn’t guarantee you a career. Look at things from that perspective.

With everything you’ve done, what is the ultimate goal you are still chasing? Say, something you will be proud of with the cigar and whiskey and flip flops?

I want to get my mom a house she has never imagined. I can afford one now but I am looking at a very homey house. Then I will be done done.

End. 

Join the Conversation By Leaving Your Comment In The Comments Section Below, on Twitter and Facebook. We Love You for Reading!

 

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
SA Soapies13 hours ago

‘Imbewu – The Seed’ Shuts Down Production Amid COVID-19 Scare

Mafikizolo
Music15 hours ago

Mafikizolo Returns To Form with New Single ‘Thandolwethu’

Streaming15 hours ago

What We Know About Upcoming Colin Kaepernick Limited Series

List of The Best Live Performers and Acts in South Africa
Music16 hours ago

Babes Wodumo’s Comeback To Shake The Summer of 2020

Best South African Live Performers and Live Acts
Music1 day ago

Inside Sho Madjozi’s Collaboration with Tik Tok

Kabza De Small
Music2 days ago

Inside Kabza De Small’s ‘I Am King of Amapiano: Sweet & Dust’ Album

The River 3 Teaser
TV3 days ago

1Magic Telenovela The River 3 Teasers for July 2020

Skeem Saam teasers for July 2020
TV3 days ago

Latest Skeem Saam Teasers for July 2020

The Queen Mzansi Magic
TV4 days ago

Mzansi Magic’s The Queen Teasers for July 2020

isibaya teasers July 2020
TV4 days ago

Mzansi Magic Isibaya Teasers for July 2020

uzalo teasers for July 2020
TV5 days ago

New Uzalo Teasers for July 2020

sasha-lee olivier
News1 week ago

Miss SA 2020 Top 15 Finalists Announced

Good Girls Netflix
Streaming1 week ago

Everything That Will Drop on Netflix SA This July

BETs Africa New Drama Isono
TV1 week ago

Everything We Know About BET Africa Daily Drama Isono

Nasty C
Hip Hop1 week ago

Nasty C Announces ZULU Mixtape

Escape from Pretoria movie
TV1 week ago

Original Movies To Watch on TNT Africa This July

Emma and Zolani shooting Lindiwe
TV1 week ago

Emma’s Nine Lives – The River Week Recap

Ntando Duma
TV1 week ago

Ntando Duma Joins ‘The Queen’

Mzansi Gomora Review - Gladys vs Zodwa
TV2 weeks ago

Can Gladys and Zodwa Squash Their Beef? – Gomora Review

Music2 weeks ago

Cassper Nyovest and Thobeka Majozi Expecting Their First Baby!

Muvhango Cast
TV2 weeks ago

Muvhango Closes Shop Due to COVID-19

Sho Madjozi Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award
Music2 weeks ago

Sho Madjozi, Nasty C and More Take Over Spotify for Youth Month

K1 Jaxe
Music2 weeks ago

Kwesta Announces K1 Jaxe ‘Rap A Verse’ Winner

Dj Don Design AKA
Fresh Releases2 weeks ago

Don Design drops debut single Python ft AKA & Moozlie

meshack mavuso
TV2 weeks ago

Meshack Mavuso Joins the Cast of The River

Nigerian afropop singer Rema
Music2 weeks ago

Naija Afro Pop Star Rema Gets Nod on Apple Music’s ‘Up Next’

Mnet Legacy
TV2 weeks ago

M-Net New Telenovela Legacy Coming Soon

Gomora Thathi vs Pretty
TV2 weeks ago

Thathi vs. Pretty – Gomora’s Explosive Sibling Rivalry

Lesego Marakalla is Leaving Skeem Saam as She Quits Acting
SA Soapies2 weeks ago

Lesego Marakalla is Leaving Skeem Saam as She Quits Acting

Somhale: The Union Wedding Special, Where to watch Somizi and Mohale's wedding
Streaming3 weeks ago

6 African LGBTQ+ Movies & Series To Stream on Showmax Now

Sex Education Netflix South Africa
Streaming3 weeks ago

The 5 Best Comedy Series To Watch on Netflix SA Right Now

Celeb News3 weeks ago

Judges of Miss SA 2020 for the First Round Announced!

TV3 weeks ago

African Series, Movies, Comedy & Sports To Watch on DStv This June

Billions Season 5
Streaming3 weeks ago

Billions Season 5 – Plotline, New Cast & Everything We Know So Far

Marcus Harvey
Music3 weeks ago

Apple Music Shines the Light on Rapper Marcus Harvey

Blood & Water actor Thabanga Molaba
Celeb News4 weeks ago

Blood & Water’s Thabang Molaba Is The New Celeb Bae in Town!

GENERATIONS THE LEGACY 2020
TV4 weeks ago

More Audiences Tuning in for Uzalo and Skeem Saam Over Generations

Lerato Kganyago
Celeb News4 weeks ago

Lerato Kganyago Laughs Off Rumours Her Split from Hubby Was Bogus

nasty c featuring t.i.
Music4 weeks ago

Nasty C and T.I. Collaborate on ‘They Don’t’

Rapulana Seiphemo The Queen
SA Soapies4 weeks ago

Rapulana Seiphemo Leaves Generations

The River season 2
TV4 weeks ago

‘The River’ Pauses Filming As Crew Member Tests Positive For COVID19

Sizwe vs AKA 2020
Music1 month ago

5 Biggest Mzansi Celebrity Beefs in 2020

Music1 month ago

Africa Now Radio With Cuppy Premieres On Apple Music

Streaming1 month ago

What To Stream on Netflix This June

Streaming1 month ago

7 Mzansi Hits To Stream On Showmax Right Now

Celeb News1 month ago

Bonang Unveils Limited Edition BNG Prestige Reserve Brut

TV1 month ago

The Bachelor SA S2 Finale: Marc Chooses Marisia!

The Housekeepers Season 2
TV1 month ago

Housekeepers 2 Returns to Mzansi Magic

Streaming1 month ago

You Can Now Binge Watch Gomora – Stream Details, Plot & More

Aubrey Qwana
Music1 month ago

Inside Channel O Looming New Show, ‘Remix.Studio’

Muzi Mthabela leaves Isibaya for Imbewu
TV1 month ago

Muzi Mthabela Leaves Isibaya For Imbewu

Cassper Nyovest and Nadia Nakai
Music1 month ago

Def Jam Africa Launches With Star-Studded Roster

Sjava
Music1 month ago

Sjava Exits Ambitiouz Entertainment

Jub Jub
TV1 month ago

Jub Jub Risks it All for Uyajola 9/9

Thandiswa Mazwai
Lockdown1 month ago

Play Your Part Africa Live Stream Concert Featuring King Tha

Kay Sibiya and girlfriend have broken up
Celeb News1 month ago

Kay Sibiya and Judie Confirm They’ve Broken Up

Rapulana Seiphemo The Queen
TV1 month ago

Rapulana Seiphemo Joins ‘The Queen’

Lockdown1 month ago

The Lockdown House Party Finale All Star To Return Faves

1Magic The River
TV1 month ago

‘The River’ Returns from Lockdown Break

TV1 month ago

RHOJ Season 2 Reunion Highlights – Shade and Files!

Netflix 8 Movie South Africa
Movies1 month ago

South African Horror Film ‘8’ to Premiere on Netflix

Hip Hop1 month ago

Riky Rick Says Cassper & AKA Beef Is Draining To The Culture

Sizwe vs AKA
Music1 month ago

AKA and Sizwe’s Feud Heats Up on Twitter

Ami Faku
Music1 month ago

Sun EL-Musician x Ami Faku’s Into Ingawe Goes Double Platinum

Music2 months ago

Nadia Nakai Celebrates 30 With A Magazine Cover

Idris Elba
Lockdown2 months ago

Idris Elba Hosts AKA & Sho Madjozi for the Africa Day Benefit Concert

Solo and Dineo
Celeb News2 months ago

Dineo & Solo Reflect on First Year as a Married Couple

Lockdown2 months ago

Lady Zamar & Celeste Ntuli Join Jameson Connects

Sun EL Musician
Music2 months ago

Top African Artists Curate Lockdown Inspiration Playlists

Channel O Lockdown House Party
Lockdown2 months ago

The Lockdown House Party Continues Blazing This Winter

South African celebrity couples
News2 years ago

These 11 South African Celebrity Couples Are Every Romantic Goal

HHP
Music2 years ago

HHP Is Dead At 38 – Reflecting On His Rise To The Top

Celeb News5 years ago

Mzansi Celebrity Nudes For A Cause: The Marie Claire Naked Issue 2015 is Out

idols sa season 5 auditions
TV1 year ago

Idols SA Season 15 Auditions Kick Off In Pretoria

Hair4 years ago

10 Fresh Celeb HairCuts (And Their Names) For Your Festive Look!

Celeb News4 years ago

9 Big Brother Mzansi Break Out Stars: Where Are They Now?

Celeb News5 years ago

(PHOTOS) Vixen Unleashed! Namhla’s Hot Lingerie Behind The Scenes Snaps

Celeb News4 years ago

The 10 South African Celeb Couples Who Melted Our Hearts In 2016!

Fashion2 years ago

Tino Chinyani Wears The Best Pants In The Business – Proof in Pics!

Hair4 years ago

5 Banging Celeb Hairstyles To Steal For Your Festive Look!

TV3 years ago

Yvonne Left At The Alter: Scandal! Nuptials End In Tears

Hair2 years ago

Hair: A Customer’s Experience At Legends Barber

Hair2 years ago

Hair: We Caught Up With Legends Barber Founder Sheldon Tatchell

Hair2 years ago

Hair: What Legends Barber is All About

best-dressed-female-celebs-sa
Fashion4 years ago

2016’s Top 10 Best Dressed South African Celebrities: Female Edition

Celeb News5 years ago

Topless Tuesday: Pearl Thusi flaunts what her mama gave her

Hair2 years ago

Hair: One Barber Spills All About Legends Barber

Fashion2 years ago

Nomzamo Mbatha Oozes Swag In New PUMA Defy Luxe

Isibaya traditional wedding Sibongiseni Mkhize, Mpiyakhe Zungu
TV1 year ago

Isibaya: The Traditional Zulu Wedding Everyone is Talking About (PHOTOS)

Isipho
TV1 year ago

What You Need To Know About e.tv’s New Drama – ‘Isipho’

Nadia Nakai interview 2019
Interviews1 year ago

INTERVIEW: Nadia Nakai Dishes On ‘Nadia Naked’

Boity Wuzdat
Celeb News2 years ago

Boity Has Her Eyes Set On Dropping Some Music

Hair2 years ago

Hair: Should You Get Your Touched At Legends Barber?

News2 years ago

The Wait Is Over – It’s Now Hours To The Black Panther Premiere!

Morny Ryle Top Billing
Interviews2 years ago

Getting To Know Top Billing’s New Presenter – Ryle De Morny

Harmony Katulondi Top Billing
Interviews2 years ago

Top Billing: Harmony Katulondi Joins The Presenter Family

Music3 years ago

Donald’s Red Mic Xperience Live DVD The Perfect Early Valentines Gift

Events4 years ago

Who Had The Last Laugh: Recap Of The Savanna Comics Choice Awards

TV2 years ago

18 Best South African TV Shows in 2018 (So Far)!

Real Housewives of Johannesburg
TV2 years ago

Real Housewives of Johannesburg Are Everything! Why We Are Obsessed

Celeb News4 years ago

8 Looks You Have To See From The YOUSpectacular Awards!

Khaya Dladla
Interviews2 years ago

Khaya Dladla Gets On The Hunt For His Biggest Fan!

Fashion4 years ago

2016’s Top 10 Best Dressed South African Celebrities: Male Edition

Sho Madjozi
Music1 year ago

Sho Madjozi Is Apple Music’s Artist Of The Month

Select Sessions Sir LSG
Interviews2 years ago

Sir LSG: Perfection Matters – Not So Much The Accolades – Interview

Celeb News4 years ago

Fat Cheques! The 10 Highest Earning South African Celebrities in 2016

Ntokozo Mastermind Dlamini Exclusive interview
Interviews5 years ago

INTERVIEW: Touching Base With Rising Uzalo Star Ntokozo TK Dlamini

Kat La Kat
Interviews2 years ago

Deep House Ace Kat La Kat Is Not Chasing The Wave – Interview

TV2 years ago

Idols SA S14 Auditions: Hopefuls Go For Their Dreams At Carnival City

Bonang Matheba UN talks
Celeb News2 years ago

Bonang Wows At ‘Put No Girl Behind’ United Nations Discussions

Punk Mbedzi
Interviews2 years ago

5 Minutes With House Music Dab hands Punk Mbedzi

Adidas POD
Fashion2 years ago

Yannick Ilunga and Rochelle ‘RhaRha’ Back At It For Adidas

Celeb News5 years ago

Cassper Nyovest & Amanda Du Pont: Trouble in Paradise?

News4 years ago

Siyavuma! Celebrities Who Answered Their True Calling

Nasty C in PUMA Breaker Hi Blocked
Fashion2 years ago

Nasty C Rocking The Latest PUMA Drop

Gert Johan Coetzee Autumn 2019
Fashion2 years ago

Inside Gert-Johan Coetzee’s ‘Recession Proof’ Ready To Wear Autumn ’19 Collection

Real Housewives of Johannesburg Recap, Evodia and Christy fight
TV2 years ago

Real Housewives of Johannesburg: Evodia and Christall Screaming Match!

Music2 years ago

SA Music Queens: 5 SA Female Artists Killing The Game in 2018

Khanya Mkangisa
Celeb News2 years ago

Khanya Mkangisa and Nick Soul To Dish Showbiz Tips At Looming PUMA Shindig

Celeb News4 years ago

BIRTHDAY BOY! Celebrating Uzalo’s Nay Maps In 5 Facts

Fashion4 years ago

Riky Rick’s Is Now The Most Stylish Performing Artist In SA

Naledi Real Housewives of Johannesburg
TV2 years ago

Real Housewives of Johannesburg: Mercy & Evodia Consider Vaginal Rejuvenation

Nasty C in PUMA RS-X Trophies 01_lo
Fashion1 year ago

Nasty C Rocks In PUMA RS-X Trophies

Celeb News5 years ago

Winnie Ntshaba opens up about her childhood

Fashion3 years ago

Adidas Originals EQT 2017 – Our Future Is Now

Adidas Statement collection South Africa
Fashion2 years ago

A Capsule To Support Women Through Their Workouts Is Here

Health5 years ago

Desire For A Mandingo; Do Them Penis Enlargements Actually Work?

Fashion2 years ago

Adidas Introduces ‘Never Made’

Features5 years ago

SIX Tricks To Grow A Killer Afro That Actually Work! Part ONE

Interviews4 years ago

Nasty C Chats To Us About 2016, Music & Beefs

Emtee
Music1 year ago

Emtee Is Really Frustrated Right Now

Music3 years ago

Priddy Ugly & Bontle’s Wedding Is Dreamy! At Least In La Sauce’s New Video

Fashion2 years ago

Adidas Captures The Spirit of Prophere

Emtee leaving Ambitiouz Entertainment
Music1 year ago

Emtee Wants Out

Cassper Nyovest Baby Girl music video
Music3 years ago

Vanessa Mdee Plays Cassper’s Love Interest In ‘BabyGirl’ Video

Imbewu: The Seed
TV2 years ago

The Lowdown on eTV’s New Daily Drama ‘Imbewu: The Seed’

Wizkid Tiwa Savage Fever video
Music2 years ago

Wizkid and Tiwa Savage Heat It Up In Sexy Video

Shane Eagle Never Grow Up Album Review
Music1 year ago

Shane Eagle – Never Grow Up Album Review

Real Housewives of Johannesburg
TV2 years ago

Real Housewives of Johannesburg: Brinnette and Evodia’s Tea Party Bust Up

SA Celebz5 years ago

New Couple Alert: Maps & Nomzamo Are Getting Cosy

ADVERT

What's Hot!