*This article was previously published in the print edition of Move!
Fame was never part of the plan for the duo. In fact MFR Souls are still getting used to the idea of being in the spotlight and having eyes on them all the time. Tumelo “Maero“ Nedondwe and Tumelo “Force” Mabe’s lives have changed since their single Love You Tonight came out in October. The video has had more than 1,7 million views on YouTube to date.
Since then they’ve been in demand, going from gigs to interviews to more gigs. The two were forced to slow down after they and manager Kombelani Khoza were involved in a horrific car during the festive season. “God is great, guys. I can’t believe we made it alive,” they posted alongside a picture of a damaged car. They’re now recovering at home.
DYNAMIC PAIR: When we meet up with the duo before the accident, they seem a little shy. The level of fame they’ve been encountering is going to take time to get used to – even though after years of being DJs they were ready for the next step in their career.
“Things started moving quickly for us when we got Sony’s attention,” Force says. It dawned on them only recently that since they signed with one of the world’s biggest record labels they’re no longer known just as DJs in Katlehong on Gauteng’s East Rand, where they grew up.
“It all sunk in when we entered the Sony boardroom for the first time to sign our contract. That day I was like, okay, this is serious,” Force says with a chuckle. “We’d managed to make our name known in a few townships. It was time to broaden our reach.”
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS: It might seem as if they’re an overnight success. After blowing up in the industry they became known for hits like Bamb’ikhanda and Ama DM, and they’ve been working with the hottest people in music.
“Trust me, we didn’t just come up,” Force says. “We started way back when we were just playing for alcohol or a ‘thank you’. We’d walk to gigs and literally beg to play or lie to get a slot on the line-up.” They grew up in the same area and went from being friends with a common love for music, to being brothers.
“We had the same idea about the sound we wanted,” Force says. “We got ideas off each other and created a sound we thought would set us apart from everyone else. Experimenting with a piano was it for us.” There has been ample debate about who originated the “amapiano” sound, with many crediting MFR Souls as the creators. But they say it’s a debate they won’t get drawn into. “Well, everyone knows the truth,” Force says. “For us it doesn’t matter.”
GETTING USED TO THE LIMELIGHT: They say when they started remixing tracks and adding piano back in 2013, not many people were keen on what they were doing. “It was difficult for us at the time,” Force explains.
“We wanted to be different and at the same time get people to love what we had to offer. “This wasn’t an easy feat because the obsession at the time was deep and commercial house.”