Msaki steps into another genre with her new album - 'I know the sound works for me'

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Singer Msaki spoke to us about the making of her new album.
Singer Msaki spoke to us about the making of her new album.
Oupa Bopape

Her fans have called it a masterpiece. They admit to weeping at times when listening to her music, and at others, dancing their troubles away. 

When she announced that she would be releasing new music, her fans couldn't wait. But she went one step further and  released a double album – one acoustic, the other electronic. 

We catch up with singer Msaki after the release of Platinumb Heart Open and Platinumb Heart Beating. 

As a singer songwriter, poet and visual artist, Msaki wanted to be involved in all aspects of the album. She doesn't mind juggling it all, no matter how difficult it may get.

“Juggling is nothing new to us as black woman, we’re moms, we work , we own companies , we have friends. But more than anything, I wanted to maintain the integrity of my work, so I’m interested in all areas of production. I want to be able to live a full life as a creator, so I know how to let go when it’s time to collaborate, I’m not there trying to control everything. But with everything else, I want to be involved because I have a clear vision of what I want.”

Some of the songs on the album such as Statues and Born in a Taxi (written by Neo Muyanga) - who is one of the co-producers of this album - reflect on some of the political and social unrest that South Africa has faced in the past few years.

There was a lot on her mind when she was creating this album, including the Marikana Massacre and the rise in gender-based violence.

Msaki knows what black working-class women in SA go through and she felt that her music had to reflect that.

Even though it might be heavy to make music about police brutality and GBV in SA, she finds that it’s necessary as it is the reality that many live with.

“I can’t side-step it and I guess my way of dealing is writing poetry and music, which can make it more manageable mentally and emotionally. But I don’t go out of my way to try and make myself feel lighter about the issues. It’s about finding a balance and not allowing myself to drown in feeling hopeless and disappointed, which can make you hardened on the inside as a person. And I guess that’s why I also created love songs, that’s where I find balance and softness.”

Read more | Msaki pleads with radio stations - 'Do not ask for our songs if you will cut them'

She's collaborated with some of the best SA musicians on her album Platinumb Heart Beating. She's got Sun-El Musician - who is also a co producer on the album - Black Motion, Kabza and Oskido, just to name a few.

Some of them she had already collaborated with in the past, such as Sun-El, with their hit song Ubomi Abumanga.

Incorporating electronic house music into her album happened naturally because of all the past collaborations she had with artists in the genre, she says.

“I suppose it’s the polite thing to do, once you do something for someone, they offer to do something in return for you. After collaborating with a lot of artists in electronic house, they offered [to work with me] once they found out my album was coming.

“And for me I never thought I’d find myself working with Oskido, who is a legend. But I’m interested in expanding electronic dance music, which is where a lot of the younger guys come in, I wanted to cover the scope of what is possible in the genre.”

She wasn’t nervous about going in electronic music because of how familiar the genre is to her.

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“I didn’t really have any feelings of fear about making an electronic album. I just didn’t realise that I had a body of work, I’ve been releasing electronic singles, for a while now, I know the sound works for me.

"There was a bit of fear but not of the genre, but of putting up my own body of work entirely in the electronic space and so Sun-El musician was instrumental in encouraging me because he would just say like 'no, a full body of work is easy for you, you can do it and we’ll help you.'

"And it became easier to make the transition. But also I don’t feel like I’ve left anything behind – instead, I’ve cemented something in another genre.”

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