Muzi Interview – Taking his Zulu roots to Berlin
I’m Zulu, so that comes through naturally. I’m not scared of honestly expressing myself and being proud of being black. I think being African is really cool.”
Muzi is a proudly Zulu DJ/Producer from Empangeni in KwaZulu-Natal who has featured on the line-up of South Africa’s top music festivals such as Ramfest, Griet Festival, Oppikoppi, Synergy Live, and Rocking The Daisies. He also has a bi-weekly slot on 5FM called #BRINGDANOIZE.
He has also received shout-outs from international stalwarts such as The Prodigy, High Rankin, MoodyGood, Jakwob and Foreign Beggars for his debut EP, Bundu FX.
Soon Muzi will be relocating to Berlin to take his mixture of Hip Hop and Electronica to a global audience and to further his musical aspirations.
Mary Honeychild chats to this exciting young talent who is tipped to blow up in Europe soon…
Considering the environment and the survival mode you mentioned growing up in; how do you think these experiences factor into the kind of music you are drawn to making?
Muzi: First of all, thank you for taking the time to compile these questions and interview me. I really appreciate it.
I think [my upbringing] it’s the reason why I am drawn more to loud, heavy bass, and hard hitting music. With that said, my dad used to listen to soulful music. So it has become a goal of mine to incorporate the hard hitting bit with soul.
Tell us about the production story behind your brand new video release, ‘Nizogcwala’…
Muzi: Nizogcwala happened the same way all my other tracks happen. I hear it in my head then have this urge, this burning desire to make the beat and finish it. The music just comes to me. So I made the track pretty fast, then the sound designing bit took a while but I finally got that down as well. And as the music comes, visuals soon follow. It’s just how my head works. I don’t understand it.
Luckily I had the chance of making those visuals I had imagined a reality, with the help of video director KING ADZ. I remember being on the video shoot and telling my manager how the video was turning out exactly the way I had envisioned it.
When it comes to the message that is reflected in your music, what is it that you hope to make people feel and think when they listen to Muzi’s stuff?
Muzi: The art has to be honest. I’m Zulu, so that comes through naturally. I’m not scared of honestly expressing myself and being proud of being black. I think being African is really cool. When people listen to my music and see my visuals or performances, I hope it inspires them to live their truth as well.
If you bring a certain energy to a performance, the crowd can instantly tell if it’s fake or real.”
For your sound, you choose to combine the elements of hip hop and electronica. Why do you think these two sound genres are the best means for your creative expression?
Muzi: I never consciously decide to join or work with certain genres. It just happens naturally. I grew up listening mostly to hip hop music, so that’s where everything started but as time went on I got into other genres as well. I didn’t need to know how to play instruments to make hip hop and electronic beats so this made it way easier for me. With that said, I cannot pigeon hole my creativity so even though it’s the best means for expressing my creativity now, it might not be in five years and that’s okay. That’s growth
You’ve played at a few premium South African festivals such as Synergy, Rocking The Daisies, Oppikoppi, Griet, and Ramfest. What have you learned from playing at those festivals and what do you enjoy most about playing at outdoor events?
Muzi: I’ve learnt that it’s all energy. If you bring a certain energy to a performance, the crowd can instantly tell if it’s fake or real. I am relatively unknown, so being able to get on those stages and see people move to my music, move to tunes that they were hearing for the first time is really dope. It’s an energy thing. Respect the energy.
We were in our flat, broke as hell with nothing but internet, airtime and dope music.”
You are in the process of relocating to Berlin, what do you hope to achieve with this move and what are your first set of plans for when you get there?
Muzi: Honestly I am just going with the flow of things. For some reason, my music isn’t understood that much here and that’s fine. I am moving to seek bigger, better opportunities for myself because I believe in myself and I believe that I can be world class if I work really hard. I hope to move closer to my dreams, that’s all.
You’ve recently signed to BMG Chrysalis in London, tell us the story of how this deal came about and why you chose this label specifically?
Muzi: We were in our flat, broke as hell with nothing but internet, airtime and dope music. I can’t even explain how it happened. My manager reconnected with one of his music business contacts in the UK and next thing, the head of A&R at BMG Chrysalis in London was calling me, telling me he loves the music. We just followed the energy. It felt right. I have a dope team around me. My manager and my friends really believe in me. Something bigger than us is at work and we all respect it and let it do its magic. It’s an energy thing.