Let’s Break The Ice, what are we drinking?
We are drinking a “Pour Over” – allow me to give you a background to the drink (read’s coffee label).The coffee beans are from Columbia, and are high grown beans which are quite large and gloriously dense – therefore we have to give it time to soak. However, due to the bean being so clean and sweet – the time that it takes for it to turn into a delicious drink is relatively short.
At what age did you discover your passion for music?
That’s a tough question, as I think most people grow up with a love for music, so I guess the passion was always there – but I suppose it got unlocked when I learnt to play the guitar at the age of 13. When I was a kid – I always used to sing, and was involved in the school and church music groups, which gave me a foundation of how music works; how to make music; the different elements that make a song, and things like that. I guess that’s kind of the starting point of my whole journey.
Am I correct in saying that you taught yourself to play guitar?
Yes that is correct. In the beginning, it’s a slow process because your fingers aren’t strong enough but you just learn one step at a time – and I was lucky that I started young, which meant I had a lot of time to teach myself. It’s not difficult to learn an instrument; the difficult part is becoming good at it.
Is talent everything?
No, I don’t believe talent is everything. The majority of success comes from putting in the hard work. Talent is just the bit which makes your journey easier.
Do you believe that you are living your “God given” purpose?
Yes, one hundred percent! I’m not that good at anything else to be honest. This whole journey which I am on, has just fallen into place and been such a blessing. There are always going to be the ups and downs though, but most of the time – I know that I am playing and doing the right thing.
How did your life change when God came into it?
I grew up in a Christian home, so it’s hard to pinpoint a particular time when He entered my life. I was baptized when I was 13, and that is when I started to think that there must be more to Jesus then what they say in Sunday school. I then entered my teenage years and had many ups and downs – but later on, when I was about 22/23 years old – I recommitted my life to God, and have never looked back.
I started working for a church, and lead the worship. The epiphany came when I realized how much God loves us – which is such a cool feeling for me, and I wanted everybody else to know that feeling as well.
At the end of the day, everyone just wants to know that they are loved. If you are loved by the Creator, then you don’t really need to be loved by anyone else, because He is the greatest of all.
Was church a good place to hone your skill? To practice daily and feel inspired?
Yes, one hundred percent! I don’t know how anyone will become good if they don’t go to church (laughs). I went to this thing with John Legend’s Music Director and he mentioned how he had started his career in church… actually, most of the South African musicians that I know, started in church.
It’s kind of the starting point for most musicians. From a practical point of view, you can actually practice on instruments in front of people. Of course everyone has a different journey that they go into from there – but it does lay a great foundation.
You had to work in the “real world” in order to survive. How did you keep visualizing your dream, and continue to strive towards your goals?
As soon as I left school, I worked in a skateboard shop for a couple weeks, then I was a waiter for a couple more weeks – neither of which worked out. After those short jobs, I worked in a bank for 5 years. At the time, it was something that I needed to do and I am very grateful for those opportunities.
I didn’t necessarily enjoy working there, in fact I hated it. (Someone at) The bank asked me “what is it that you want to do?”…my response was that “All I want to do is play a guitar”- which sounded ridiculous at the time. A few years went past and I honestly never thought that I would be able to play guitar, sing and make music as a career; as I wasn’t really making music at the time. I was just playing guitar and getting involved musically at church.
Throughout my life, I always had very supportive people around me, and some guys in church saw my potential but couldn’t understand why I wasn’t pursuing my dream. At that stage of my life, I had obligations to my family, so I couldn’t stop working…but they sat me down and told me about being faithful to what God wanted me to do. I resigned the next day and felt so much peace from making that decision. I had no idea what was going to happen next and everyone thought I was crazy! But it all just worked out.
After that, I started working at church and went to study at University for about a year; whilst doing gigs at markets and continuing to write more music – which lead me to where I am now.
Did you learn valuable life lessons from working jobs unrelated to your passion?
Yes. I couldn’t have gone straight into the music industry because my maturity and spirituality wasn’t in the right place. I was young and needed to go through those things – which taught me a lot. As much as I didn’t like it, I have never taken anything I have done for granted. Those jobs did afford me a lot of things, so it was definitely something I had to go through.
How do you overcome the fear of failure and self-doubt?
That’s a tough one! I always have self-doubt but for me, I remind myself to “just show up”. At the end of the day, I will always have doubt in my mind but I am always going to push through that feeling and try – no matter if I succeed or fail.
Like I said, I’ve always got my friends and family around me who lift me up when I fail; but they aren’t able to help me if I don’t show up.
What is your song writing process like?
It differs – sometimes I have a subject that I really want to sing about and will then work around that. I will make the words, melody and tune, to all flow towards the subject. Sometimes, I will just start playing and sing whatever comes to my head and eventually try steer the song towards something which makes sense. Then there are other times that the song writes itself – so it really varies from time to time.
I try to write what’s inside of me; so that’s why you will hear a lot of spiritual lyrics coming through in my songs. It’s not necessarily my intent from the beginning; but I believe when you are creative – you then allow what is inside of you, to flow out.
To date, what are you most proud of musically?
I’m really proud of receiving nice messages from people; and it makes me happy to know they took the time to send them. I mean, I love Ed Sheeran but I’ve never gone to the extent to send him a message on Facebook; yet I love him. So I really respect the fact that people take the time to send me messages or even visit me after shows to take pictures. I realize that, as a fan, getting pictures with people takes guts – so I am just really proud that people want to do that with me.
Two part question – firstly, were there specific steps that you took to create the Majozi brand? Secondly, did you have a team to assist you?
I kind of just felt it out, learnt as I went along and asked people’s advice. I was writing songs and playing, but had no idea about booking agents and music labels. I know Gangs Of Ballet very well and had also met Ard Matthews which was really helpful in the beginning of my career. Even now, I just chat and confide in them.
A lot of people are willing to help you if you just ask. I just took it step by step, asked advice and was always cautious of the people that I would allow into my circle/brand.
I have found myself a booking agent now and she is amazing; she believes in the same things I do and literally changed my life. With regards to the music label, they are a little more hectic but have always believed in me and also share my beliefs.
There are so many more people who are more talented than me, but you have to put in the hard work and time. Another key is to be a kind person; as Quincy Jones said “You should never be a better musician than you are a person”.
In the end, you can be as talented as you like, but if you are not using it to help people then it’s not worth it.
How do you stay grounded and humble?
Like I said, I was lucky that I didn’t start my career very young; and managed to build a good foundation which helped. If you come into this career with the wrong kind of heart and understanding of how things work, it can really mess you up.
The people around me play the biggest role in this – and are always checking up on me to make sure I am alright. My friends don’t care that I am a musician.
Are you a goal setter?
Yes I am. There’s a saying which goes – “if your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough”. So I have massive dreams and goals, but I never want to achieve them – so as soon as I get close, I push them out and make them bigger.
You have an international sound – do you have dreams and aspirations to take your career overseas?
One hundred percent, definitely! Like I said, I have massive goals and dreams. I went to Amsterdam last year which was my first time overseas and loved it! There is so much that I want to do, so it will all happen when the timing is right.
What do you want people to take away from listening to your music?
I don’t know… I just want people to feel hope and love; and if I can do that with my music, then I think I have done my job.
What is your favorite song to perform?
I think it has to be “Darling” because everybody knows the words. I never get tired of it.
Do you have any advice for young musicians that are trying to breakthrough?
The Quincy Jones saying that I mentioned earlier – “Never be a better musician than you are a person”.
If you could Break The Ice with anyone, past or present, who would it be and how would you do it?
I don’t drink but if I had to have a drink with someone then it would be Ed Sheeran… I would even have a pint of beer (laughs) – I mean its Ed Sheeran, come on!!
Photography & Videography: Justin Govender
Host: Kendal Olivia Barrett
Location: Rosetta Roastery