Dj Mshega has set his eyes on a big musical year, and it shows. The Criminal hitmaker, who’s currently adding final touches to his looming sophomore album, has recently dished out no less than two new summer bangers to mark his triumphant return to the soundscape.
Hurricane and How Do You Feel find Holly Rey and Ziyon lavishing rich summer sonics with soul stirring vocals.
We caught up with Mshega for an exclusive interview, in which he remembers how his brother’s passing sparked the genesis of his love for music.
With a new single out, I imagine you must be super busy right now…
Yeah, with everything involved in promoting that. I’m also actually wrapping up the rest of my album so it is a busy time.
You first album did so well. Is a sophomore slump not a concern with the new project?
No! I’m not fearful at all. I rest in the confidence that I do all that I can and give my all, you know? When I reflect on the work I’ve put in what’s coming I’m happy. It’s definitely a step up. The whole sound is going to another level so I am really happy about the hard work that has been poured in. It’s been about two years working on the album.
One of the more notable characteristics about you as a record producer is the quality of the sound. Everything is done masterly and keeps the strong element of melody and musicality. Where does that come from?
I’d like to think it comes from the time when I got introduced to music… to House music. Like, people who were around me – my mentors, like Louie Vega, Dj Spinner and all these artists… they were really, really good!
Their music was great overall. Vocally, sonically and otherwise. That’s how I knew. It’s remained the one quality that I never look past when I’m making music. Whether it be drum, or bass, soulful, electro… the principle remains the same and carries through how I approach making music.
You’ve taken us back to some of your inspirations back in the day. Can you remember that moment when you decided this is really want you want to spend your life doing?
I think that happened the very day I was introduced to music. It happened when I got exposed to DJing and I just knew. Until then I had been playing soccer.
One day I was playing soccer in the streets and my brother popped in carrying a device called a mixer. I didn’t know what it was at the time but I was already very intrigued by it.
As he walked in, I followed him. When I arrived in his room he had connected the device and was playing a record, some house joint… (sings Keith Thompson – Living On the Front Line, Victor Simonelli).
I was just like, “what is this?” That moment drew me in. I didn’t know what he was playing but it sounded so beautiful.
Is that when you started putting in the work on your DJing craft?
No, not right away. Unfortunately, a few months after that my brother passed on. He was 18 years old by then. I decided I am going to carry on from where he left off and push this thing because he loved it. I didn’t know how far I was gonna go but it really felt right.
How did you decide to collaborate with Holly Rey?
She’s super fresh! How it came about… Well, after she dropped Deeper, which was a beautiful record, I started getting ideas.
Just ideas on different shades we could do with her on something easy and blissful. It was based on that, just hearing this dope record and being like, “hey, we could make something else that’s different, cool and easy. After that I approached her in the DMs, and she was game. She actually flew in from Durban to record Hurricane in the studio.
How did you decide for Hurricane to be the first single?
That’s a tricky question. Well, the record sounds really simple and easy. It’s a summer love song and we really thought, seeing we are going into the spring, now would really make sense to drop a record for this season. Hurricane really fits the season. All the songs in the project are amazing but this was the summer jam.
Amapiano have really blown up in the last couple of years. What do you think of genre? Would you want to mess around there?
I want to say shout out to Amapiano and the makers because they have come a long way. For anything to come from nothing and become something you must have worked hard. You can’t take that away, you know?
I think the music reflects our culture and what we relate to. We can’t but hear those old Kwaito instruments. For me it’s not such a new thing, it’s just been reproduced in the modern way, which is really cool.
Tell us everything we need to know about your upcoming album. What can your fans expect?
With the upcoming album fans can expect a step up from The Contribution. Probably like 5 steps up, because there’s a lot of time and effort that has been put into the project. We’ve got some exciting artists like Holly Rey, Naak Music, Nomcebo, Dominic….
The list goes on! The album reflects what I’ve gone through since The Contribution, and that’s what I love; that people will be hearing something that’s literally from my heart straight to them for their pure enjoyment. They can expect bangers man!
Any particular song you can’t wait for them to hear?
It’s unfair to pick out a record because with this project every song is special and I wouldn’t pick that one over that one. I would rate them the same because there is the same amount of energy put into each and every song. I love those all songs but for now the one that stands out… There’s a song called Impilo with Nomcebo!
Is that possibly the next single?
I don’t know. We were blessed with so many bangers in this project and we are struggling to choose what we going to put up next.
Obviously that’s a really good place to be?
Yes! That’s why am like, unfortunately we don’t know and we want to leave it to the people to decide what they want to put out…
What are you still hoping to do in your career?
W the plan with me is I wanna take over the world, as long as I breath I want to push to the highest, most possibly reach. With my career, I definitely wanna go global, that’s the ultimate goal …