Blog June 2, 2015
Sam Backer: So to start with, can you just introduce yourself? Nozinja: Hi, my name is Nozinja, the creator and the producer of shangaan electro. And can you just tell us a little bit about what shangaan electro is, for people who don't know? N.: Let me put it this way, shangaan electro, it's a cultural music, which was turned-- which I personally turned into fast music, into playing very very fast and adding some elements of marimba where we don't play live bass. We play our bass music with marimba, marimba drums and turn that into bass, so it's a little bit faster than any music that they've ever heard. So what do you mean, it's a cultural music? It's a traditional music which we grew up playing whenever there is a party, whenever there is a wedding, wherever there is anything that's exciting, a get together....it's the traditional music we grow up any musician playing. But the different part of it is, we turn it it to become faster than the old traditional music. So it's music you grew up with? 2:13 Yes, the music that we grew up with, which was running at a speed of 125, if it was faster it was 145. And then we came and revolutionized and take it to, for example like tomorrow I'm playing 190 beat per minute. 2:33 So when you, know, you're saying it's 120, so when you were growing up, did it already have electronic elements, I mean, did it already have like a drum set, or - 2:43 No 2:44 Electric instruments? 2:44 It was original live music where you played with old drums, guitar, and a bass guitar, like any ordinary musician that they played, you have a lead guitar, a bass guitar, drums, and some, one of the organs, only that. that was only that. so we came with this fast retro part of it, where we're playing with - Nozinja 3 0:17 So, so those groups, were they like recording and making records? 0:23 Yes, they are. They were. We got the great General Shirinda, we got the great one of our own legends, Thomas Chauke. We've got George Maluleke, we've got Elias Baloyi. We've got all of those, they are still playing the old style of shangaan music. And then we came and we just said, Now I think something has to be revolutionized here.0:51 If you want to go international in anything, you have to come with something new. Then we introduced the marimba. And it was this gentleman called - he passed away - his name was 1:05 Chris Banyoni. A funny part - he was a producer of dembele music. So there was this guy, he's also passed away, his name was Machabe Moden.1:19 So Machabe Moda was playing so, they wanted to play, he did one album for Madswa, and when I listened to it, but it didn't sell. And I just said, No, why can't we go this route? And then he said, No. They said, No, this is not shangaan. You are putting a lot of other cultures' element. I said, No, we need to put other cultures if you want to come something new. And then I listened to it and I just said, Okay, fine, I will change it into my own liking. 1:50 That's when I started to do, I took the kwaito bass which was played by the legend Chico Twala. And then I just said, Can we take, can we play our bass like we're playing kwaito, but the beat needs to go into shangaan, we don't change anything. And then we said, Let's add the speed so that there can be difference between kwaito and shangaan. And then I was just playing. I didn't know it would go this far.2:20 And then when it went berserk and I just said, Yes, we've touched the nerves. Let's go with it, let's roll with it. 2:27 So once you made that change, people just flipped out? 2:32 They flick out, and the speed of the dance started to be faster and I couldn't cope with them anymore. Because they danced, they are like mad. 2:46 So the dancing, did the dancing feed back into the music? 2:49 Exactly. And then and in return, we had to run after the dancers because they were getting more faster than us. Meaning us and my record label. Because we were creating this. And it went like that. 3:04 What's the name of the record label? 3:05 Nozinja Music. 3:07 Nozinja Music. 3:08 Yes. 3:09 So do you, it's so cool to me. So the earlier bass, drums, guitar, that's traditional music too. And so your's is also traditional. 3:19 It's traditional but with a new generation because all, I usually transfer this to say, When the so-called legend which I'm also referring like Thomas Chauke, when they came, shangaan was not played in that way. Shangaan was played on drums. And they would sing slowly with drums. And then they came with guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars and the drums. They also did revolutionize the same old music that we grow up in thinking is the real shangaan. It's not the real, the real was drums.3:49 So they revolutionize it to suit their own style. And then we had to come with our own generation of new style, which was electro. Somebody will come with something, with their own generation when we're growing older. Of course we will be saying they are destroying our music. Like what they are telling us, they say to us, whatever we are playing is not shangaan. But to us, it's shangaan.4:19 And to the generation that comes, we will be also criticizing them. But to me, I will be saying, let us be revolutionized our music at our own lifetime and go with it, and see, and somebody will take a bet and do something else when they reach their generations. But for now, I'm happy with what we are doing. 4:40 So how did you first learn to play electronic, or learn to produce electronic music? 4:46 Producing is mine. And there's a funny part of it I will tell you now. I don't play it. Because I've got this ideology which I've always tell people: Everybody when you play, you will play what is, what you want to hear. But if somebody doesn't play, will tell you what he or she wants to hear, and then one way or another, someway you will be breaking the rules of the musicians. The one who went to school will tell you, This keys, you can't mix these two keys. 5:16 But the people who are listening to music, they don't know anything about the keys. They just want something that is good. And something that is different. Because their ears - I always say to people their ears, ears is like your eyes and your mouth, your mouth wants to eat, your ears want to see. Your eyes want to see, your ears wants to hear. But the ears also is like the mouth, they want to taste something different all the time. Even the ears wants to choose something different sometimes.5:45 Which is, if you come with something new, which is different, your ears will welcome that and want to say, Oh, this is new, let me hear it. That's the ears, the job of the ears. So I always tell people, I will come with something new that your ears will enjoy. That's what I do. My job is to go in the studio and break the rules. 6:06 So when you made that new sound, did it make a bigger space for shangaan music among the fans? Like were the listening to kwaito or hip hop and then they - 6:17 Exactly. Now everybody, every shangaan electro just hit the full blast, playing shangaan music, not playing the house or the disco. You will find them playing in their own cars. With the full blast. Which is, it makes me happy, to say, Oh, now shangaan can play their music with pride. 6:39 Are there other producers who are kind of following you? 6:41 There are a lot. There are a lot. And I'm happy about that. Because it shows that the music, it's not dying, it's growing. 6:48 Is there anyone in particular you like? 6:50 I like all of them. There are new artists which is Benjamini Ngani. We've got Nes Mathala. We've got Georgie Remani. We've got Psychology. There are a lot of these new artists who are coming up, who are looking up to me to say, We wish to be like you one day. 7:11 Cool. That's great. So, I mean, it's kind of interesting, I feel like, you know, I've talked to different South African musicians in the past couple of years and I feel like almost like it's something that's happening in a lot of places, that there are these big, everyone was listening to kwaito, everyone was listening to house, and there's a lot of more local scenes. 7:32 Yes. There's a lot. Yeah, because you go to Zulu music, but with Zulu music they don't, they always play what is theirs, they have never changed much about their culture. You've got the Tswanas, got Ndebele, got your Vendas, got your Swazis, your Xhosas, they've got their own elements, and they also, they are those generations among them who come with something new. I can talk on behalf of my culture which is shangaan. 8:00 But we are, there are so many artists that I become their hero, or someone that they can look up to and say, like, now I'm the first to go to Europe, I'm the first to come to USA to perform. And they also have this thing to say, We wish one day we can go and follow on his footsteps, meaning me. Which makes me proud. 8:29 So, in South Africa, I know you said with the shangaan people, you're very popular, but besides that, you know, outside of that community, how's your music received? 8:40 Very well. Because there's, I was the first to play music- not the first because there were [????] but to play this type of music, which they were playing disco, to play this shangaan music, deep shangaan music. I was welcomed, you will find my music being played in KwaZulu-Natal, in other provinces in North-West, in Botswana, in Swaziland, Mozambique, in Zimbabwe. They know my music. To break those barriers, it's not easy. 9:09 You have to have played a very very good music for your music to be accepted in those parts of the world. 9:18 Do you tour there? 9:19 Yes, I go to Swaziland, I go to Botswana, they invite us to go to play. We play all over now. Like now, on next week, on Friday, we are playing in Reunion republic. Reunion Island. Yeah, I'm going there to play again, being invited, so it shows that a lot of people now are getting to know much more about my music and they like it. 9:51 So let's talk about your new album. 9:53 Yes. That's where I'm very excited about. 9:55 So tell me, start with the name. Why Nozinja Lodge, what's the ... 10:02 I really don't know. I usually play around and write thing and then I gave my hotel the name Nozinja Lodge because I've got also some businesses and I just said, Ah, yeah. Let's Lodge. Nozinja Lodge, let's go about it. And they were excited, Warp was excited about it. So I just said, fine, let's go with it. 10:29 So how did you get hooked up with Warp? 10:31 With Warp, they've listened to my album, which was, what was the compilation which was done, chose by whales? I always called him my founder, the person who found, who went all the way looking until he found me. He compiled and then give it to Honest John and Honest John listened to and they like it. And then he spoke them and then they released my album.11:01 So Warp had this idea when they listened to this, they said, Now, can we speak to this guy? And then Mark spoke to them, and then they were very excited and I just said, Oh fine, I'm happy to do an album for them. Then I did an album, which is why we are here now. 11:21 So did you, where did you record it? 11:23 In my studio. 11:24 In your studio. 11:24 In my studio. 11:26 So was there any, I mean, cause I know the previous release was a compilation of many different artists and all of which you produced, right? 11:34 Yes. 11:35 And that have been done over a period of years? 11:37 Yes. This one is new. 11:39 All these are new? 11:40 These are new. 11:42 So what was that, was that something you'd done before? Released, or record, what is it, twelve songs? 11:46 We did about 18 songs and then they have to choose among those 18 song. And I had about 30 songs. For them to choose that 18, they have to leave some but any time they can call me to say give them some more because I'm their artist now. But, yes, we had 30 and then they break it down to 20 and then they break it down to 16, yes. 12:14 So, was writing an album for Warp, you know, that's going to be released internationally, did it change .. 12:21 Yes, you have to change. Your music, you have to be more, being international, you have to be very very choosy of music. Here's the half-fast, they are those slower, and there are those vocal with with a little bit English and Shangaan playing around in those elements, yes. 12:42 So you made it a little bit more varied. 12:43 Yeah, where people can be easy for you to listen to. You can sing in shangaan but add some element of English so that a person can be like, Oh, maybe they are talking about this, yes. 12:57 Did you change production techniques at all? 13:00 No. No, I stick to my original shangaan. As it is, just I put it on the table to just test. 13:13 So are there any songs that you're particularly excited about? Or do you love all of them? 13:19 The funny part of music is, once you become a producer it's like you're having kids. You can't say, I favor this one over this one, to me. That's I even told them, I said, You do whatever you do. Here are the songs. To me, they are all the same. To me, I love them all. So you tell me which one you like most but I'm happy with all. Because they chosen like Baby Do You Feel, ....., there's a lot. I love them all. But Baby Do You Feel ...., it's good. 14:00 No the album's fantastic. I really really like it. 14:03 Thanks. Thank you very much. Thanks. 14:09 So one of the things, you know, it's cool. One of the things that's been really cool about how this album's being released is it was embraced by all of these digital producers all over. And I'm wondering, do you have any idea of why, I mean, it just grabbed people. 15:18 Yes because the thing is, it's always with, even if we can work with them on the street, everybody just turn around and want to see, turn around again, did I see? What's that? That's my cash line. The women, what they dress is somewhat traditional. 15:39 So yeah, it's that mixture of tradition 15:41 Of tradition and creativity involved, yes. 15:44 What's been cool is that after I heard this, Afropop has all these records, right? They gone to South Africa for many years and so there's older shangaan music. And I could hear it differently 15:58 Exactly. But the drums *doot doot. doot doot* You will get that. It doesn't change. It doesn't change. 16:06 Yeah, no, it's kind of opened this whole world of this music. 16:10 Exactly. That's the idea. Because my idea was to say, I wanted something new, something that if you can get this great DJ mix, you will say, mix this. And they go around. Because I was looking at Youtube the other day. There was this big DJ, I don't know if he was from England or where, I don't know. He closed the show with my song. He was so crazy16:37 He was so ... When I just look at him, I said, this guy! He even performed better than I do, honestly, with my song. And I was so proud, I was very very very proud. To see a DJ does that. 16:51 So, have you been actively working with any DJs? 16:56 I did with Tesla from the UK. I did a mix with him, that was excellent. Working with him, doing his things and then I come with my things, put it together, get one of my girls to come and sing on top of it. It was good. And like in July when I go to UK, I will have 4 days to work with different producers, doing something different. 17:23 And you still feel like you can just bring that tradition? 17:26 I want, yes. That tradition will be there. 17:29 So, what is, what do people in South Africa think of the success that you've had internationally? Are they.. 17:36 They are very very proud of us. Very very proud, to come and represent and put the positive part of South Africa on the map. They are very proud of me. 17:48 So besides your trip to England, what are your other future plans? 17:52 We'll be in Europe for 4 weeks in July and hope to come back in October here, and September, or yeah, summer or September, come back here and then in October, November, come back to England. And then I can come back home and relax a bit before I take another tour in February. 18:15 So with all the touring, who's running the hotel? 18:18 My wife. My wife runs my business. Our business. I taught her how to run businesses and I tell her when I'm on tour, any trouble don't call me. We can talk about anything else, other than that. Don't tell me about business. 18:34 There's enough going on. 18:36 Yes. If you can't take care of it, tough luck. 18:42 I think that's mostly it. 18:44 Yeah, thanks. Thanks, man.