Muzi x BudxAfropunk
Interview by Naledi Sibisi
Cover shot by Pixel Kollective
Styling by BANGYISDEAD
I wonder if he was aware that when he put together Afrovision it would turn out to be, in my opinion, one of the best things to come out of the local music scene this year. While Muzi has a few years behind him, 2018 has proven to be an extremely successful year for him in many regards since the release of his sophomore album.
“It never occurred to me that I could pursue music as a profession until I was like 19”, he says. “I always loved making music but it wasn’t until I studied medicine that I realized I wouldn’t make it as anything else besides a creative”. As someone I would consider a spearhead in this particular creative climate, Muzi has found a way to remain true to himself, his roots and the uniqueness of his influences; that much is evident in his sound. The artist and producer who has since received co-signs from the likes of Diplo and Sango is currently going through an exciting time in his career and it has been an absolute pleasure to witness.
He tells me that witnessing ten thousand people in the UK give him an encore at a festival called WOMAD was a life changing moment in his career. “I realized how powerful music is and how far my music had travelled”. His sound is often described as Electronic meets Afrobeat but there are so many other intricacies the more one gets into it. I am reminded of the way in which renowned music producer Giorgio Moroder describes the process, quintessence and evolution of dance music on a Daft Punk album. Muzi explains that Daft Punk is in fact one of his biggest influences. “I grew up around everything. My dad played the more Electronic dance stuff and SA Bubblegum Pop. My mom was into Opera, Traditional Music, RnB and Gospel. My brothers were into Hip Hop. I sort of draw from all of these”. On what a typical day looks like for him, he says that he works out and makes music. If the music doesn’t come to him, he reads or watches anime. With more music than one can possibly take in at this stage, inspiration is literally everywhere. Touching on the importance of roots, traditions and respecting originals and sources, Muzi tells me that he remains inspired by not staying in the loop. “It’s like eavesdropping on other people’s business to me so I stay out of it. It’s important for me to remain true to who I am and to dig deeper into our roots. Visual art has been helping me with that a lot actually. I’ve been reinterpreting the art via music”.
As someone who has been following him across social media platforms over the last few months, one of the things I have come to love about him is his desire to share his knowledge and walk us through his process. “I feel blessed because I have so many ideas going through my head. The sharing helps me because I get to let the music out. And what is art if not shared?”. Having watched Muzi’s set at Rocking The Daisies in October, I was curious about the kind of preparation that goes into his stage performances. ”I work tirelessly on making DJ edits, so I can set myself apart from everyone else. Performing for me is about letting go, so that’s what I do when I’m performing. It becomes a trance but one obviously can’t jump around for an hour and stay focused without taking care of yourself and your body so that’s also important”. On his most memorable tour experience he mentions that being with with Una Rāms and Aewon Wolf in the UK would be it. “I went to StoneHenge with Aewon and saw Bantu huts there. We were convinced black people built it”, he jokes.
Not too long ago, he also spent some time living in Berlin. He emphasizes that he went there to learn. “So all the early synths were made by German companies so I wanted to go and see where this thing I love started. I was on a pilgrimage of sorts. I learnt about minimalism when I was there; less is more. I learnt about leaving things bare and simple”, he continues, “I can always learn something new so I have to stay open”. I think in recent years, music on the continent has returned to placing a heavier emphasis on its roots while still keeping up to date with contemporary and international trends. While fusion is becoming more popular, some of the leaders of this creative era are being identified and I would very much consider him a part of that group. Other artists he thinks are worth looking out for include; Darkie Fiction, Bouygues Pantsula, Batuk, BCUC, Espacio Dios and Robin Third Floor. On who he would like to collaborate with both locally and internationally and he says that he would love to work with Kwesta, Missy Elliott and Daft Punk.
One of the exciting things Muzi will be a part of before 2018 comes to a close is the Budweiser experience at AfroPunk. On top of the festival experience, the platform is being used to promote creative freedom and celebrate young creatives. I picked his brain about some of the practices or pieces of advice that have and continue to motivate him throughout his journey. “You are always a student”. He mentions that this is one of his favourite creative sentiments and he keeps that in mind everywhere he goes. “Learn from others, absorb as much as you can, get really good but don’t follow their path, follow your own”. He says he is also looking forward to seeing bab’ Phuzekhemisi on the AfroPunk stage. “I’m a huge fan!”, he exclaims.
As our chat comes to a close, we talk about the current club scene and climate. With the exposure to different sounds and the rise of Electronic and Alternative music, I ask him about the relationship between music and the space it is performed at. “This is very important because if you’re in the wrong space, you could be misinterpreted. People could say you’re whack just because they don’t understand your music or what you’re trying to do. Like I know I’m not a club artist, so club gigs are very minimal for me. Placement is everything”. On what we can expect from him in the coming year? “More music! A lot more music”.