Let’s Break The Ice, what are we drinking?
We are drinking whiskey because I think it’s a unique drink. I never used to like it- I actually couldn’t deal with anything on the rocks but with time and age- it has become my drink of “lit-ness”. It always puts me in a great space and I can really appreciate the taste and flavours now. I’m also a person who loves dark chocolate and so I tend to like the details in the tastes.
Let’s start at the beginning- where did your passion for music come from?
I grew up with my sister who is six years older than me. Her and I were both the creatives in the family, whilst my dad is a pastor and my mom is in pharmaceuticals.
During every holiday, we would get our sketch books out or play the piano – which we played a lot by ear. I didn’t get into music at University because I struggle with sight reading, but music has always been very special.
Growing up in the Church- I was part of the praise and worship team; and we would often do songs that we never rehearsed and so I would be forced to find the right keys on the spot – which was very scary. If I look back now, it taught me skills that I never had and gave me the creative feel that I now experience. I consider my music to be of God and hope that it touches people in some way.
Of course, I also took part in many school productions and always knew that I loved music; however I struggled with self-confidence; and in high school I wanted to rather be a songwriter as opposed to a front singer.
Was there any particular reason why you struggled with confidence – and how did you overcome that?
It was because of me – I just didn’t have confidence. Not even my best friends knew I could sing, nobody knew. In Grade 10, I auditioned for a “cabaret club” and I was unsure if I was going to make it – but then I made it.
This club gave me a whole new level of self-confidence. I went from absolutely hating school to loving school and made new friends; friends that I am still in contact with today. It was just such an amazing reminder for me of how music has saved me so many times.
I read that there was a time when you were considering giving up? How did you combat those feelings and keep fighting and striving for your dream?
You know, I think that giving up is normal- it is part of the process. I used to see giving up as such a final thing which often made me want to focus my attention on something else because that wasn’t working. However, I have come to realise it’s all part of the process. You never actually finally give up, you always find a way back to your passions.
Those moments where you feel defeated are sometimes the best moments to rebuild and to take those things that you have experienced with you; and once you are in an objective space and removed yourself from the struggle, it leaves a lot of room for realness as well as looking at things from a new point of view. That is exactly what I had to do. I was really frustrated because I wasn’t inspired but looking back now, I don’t think that I lacked inspiration – I just think I wasn’t honest with myself enough to feel things that were really happening to me… let’s call it my “quarter life crisis”.
After all of this, I started writing more and thought I would return to my normal happy-self but that wasn’t the case; I had to create a new normal because I lived and experienced more that I previously had. It is all about learning and growing.
There is so much power in not giving up – it’s rare and unique; and we don’t get to experience it so often. Even in your darkest moment, always remember that this too shall pass and a week from now, you are going to be feeling completely different.
You are one of the faces of the Canal Walk “My Story” Campaign, how important is individuality to you?
Oh my gosh, it’s been a big part of my music. Authenticity is something that is very challenging and always needs to be rediscovered. I have learnt a lot about self-awareness and checking in with myself. There is so much beauty with being aligned with your soul, intuition and your purpose.
You need to be aware of who you are now, who you are going to be; and who you once were. That leads back to authenticity – that constant search for self is what continuously sets me apart. I try to be unique at every step of my journey.
Speaking of authenticity, you are quite the fashionista- where did that come from?
I don’t seen clothes as clothes. I see them as a part of me to experiment and an extension of my creativity. I just don’t want to look like everybody else. It’s not about making things look right or having the “right” combination – I just want to try new things.
Sometimes I wear face paint- tribal lines on my face because it makes me feel cool. There have definitely been times when I have got it right and there are times when I have got it wrong. I just try to have fun with style.
In terms of the inspiration – 90’s music and style is a big inspiration for me. I used to paint a lot growing up and used to design clothes – which was another creative expression. All my childhood dreams that I once had, I am trying to live out now, and why not.
Where does the inspiration for your lyrics come from?
Lyrics – very much my personal life. I get attached easily so it’s easy for me to write about things because I find a story in everything. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I send songs to people, just after I have written about them – to express how I feel.
Life is too short to not let people know how you feel from your side. Music is a great way to express emotions. Sometimes, when I go on dates, I want to know what’s on your playlist because that explains so much of who you are.
In such a glamorised industry – how do you maintain the balance between being true to yourself and being the person everyone sees on social media?
That’s a good question. I think it’s very difficult to be honest. I started 5 years ago when I was 20 and the things that I used to do and write about are very different to the things I do now. I have learnt so much, been through so much and grown so much since then. I think at the end of the day, staying true to myself makes the change easier for people to understand. People can see through anything that is made up or fake.
I am now a lot more business minded and the things that I used to believe in are maybe not the same. I have always been open and honest about things and I think people respect that.
What advice do you have for our followers on “personal branding”?
Being a musician is a very much about a “personal brand” which is always changing and developing. A person needs to have real experience to back it up – something that affected you in a real way- something you can always talk about. Be proud of your background and embrace the things that have added to who you are. Lastly, don’t be scared to unlock the full potential of your ideas. Don’t dim them down because of what other people think. You’re crazy is beautiful, unique and special – live that out.
What do you want people to take away from listening to your music?
I want people to feel convicted and that it makes them feel something different. I believe, good music is a soundtrack to real things. There is so much power in storytelling and I hope that my music communicates that in the end. In all of life’s experience, I think that purity still remains.
What is your musical “X” factor?
There are three things that come to mind. I think my music has a large universal influence in terms of pop music and the sound; but I’ve always made room for the South African and coloured culture. It’s a fine line between where I grew up and the gospel sound from my church.
In terms of lyrics, I have always been a bit “off center”. People often ask what the songs mean, but I like to make them think and interpret it in their own way. Do some research and find the poetry behind the music. I have always enjoyed finding the beauty in the mess, in the things that people look down upon- that is why I write like I do.
Most people don’t follow their dreams because of the “reality and responsibilities” of growing up. How did you manage to follow your dream whilst being able to self-sustain your life – at the same time?
Things happened so quickly for me. I dropped my first song Elephant Shoes in March and by the end of that month, I had signed a record deal. I then signed another record deal in July and dropped the Heart-Boxing song. Three months later, we dropped the album.
I recorded my first album in my cupboard, at home, whilst I was studying. It was incredible because things picked up so quickly. We weren’t really getting paid for most of the shows but we hustled and managed. The “fake it until you make it” part, is a natural part of the game and we did it so well.
I was young enough to be living at home still but through the gigs I was involved in – I managed to pay for my tertiary education.
Every time I won a new award or dropped a new single, I would up my rate because now I had more credibility to my name. I received lots of backlash from people because they just didn’t get it, but we kept going and believed in the vision. Social media was just erupting when I started so that also contributed greatly to my success.
Do you think social media was vital in the development of your career?
Absolutely! We had quite a few thousand followers in the beginning which gave us credibility. I also met amazing people through social media. It also helped with my knowledge of the industry.
Do you visualize your dreams and do you write your goals down?
When you have nothing left, your goals are a clear reminder of the best part of you, when you were thinking about the dream. I write a new list of goals every month – which is often the same thing but in various forms.
A few years ago, I started mapping out end points – 5 years from now, 10 years from now- and started working back; and I got people on board that can focus on elements of my goals that I can’t focus on. When you work towards goals, it points out your strengths and weaknesses and allows you to see yourself in a different light. It helps you to unpack the process. There is less room for failure when you have goals set in place.
What are you most proud of?
That I am still here and still doing making music – and that I make time to rediscover why I do it. Although my job is my passion and my passion is my love; there are times when my passion feels like the greatest thing in the world – and then there are moments when I am uninspired or there are disappointments. But you just have to remember that these things happen and no matter how well a song does, I am always proud of what I create. I have learnt so much and even in the times when I have doubted myself – I always thank God for blessing me with this career. I could not imagine doing anything else. I am so comfortable in what I do and in this lifestyle- I live and breathe this.
Do you have a ritual before going on stage?
Yes, whiskey and a prayer. A glass of whiskey takes away the critical side of me. It helps me let go and have fun.
Any advice for young musicians trying to make it in the industry?
The industry is saturated with so many people who are trying to do the same thing at the same time – you need to be an innovator. Consider your “true-self”, the best invention that is yet to come. Work on that and find the things that make you so unique that you invent new ways for people to interpret music. There is so much power in that. That continuous search for self, affects your entire wellbeing. Also, be business smart – music cannot exist completely on its own.
What can we expect during 2018?
The new album is coming out this year; and I also want to get involved with some mix tapes along the way and some more collaborations. We have some very cool innovative ideas in the pipeline.
If you could Break The Ice with anyone past or present, who would it be and what would you drink?
Frank Ocean- I am obsessed with his mind. I feel like sometimes I am listening to a sonnet, or to Shakespeare. He is also such a private person – so I think it would be very interesting to have a drink with him.
Photography & Videography: Justin Govender
Talent: Jimmy Nevis
Host: Kendal Olivia Barrett
Location: Tiger’s Milk Century City