East London-born and based artist Asanda ‘Msaki’ Mvana vocals can be heard on Mobi Dixon’s Love Colour Spin and is a SAMA-nominated singer for debut album Zaneliza: How the Water Moves.
What drew you to music?
I’ve always been musically and artistically gifted but didn’t realise it was special or something that could change my life. I didn’t value it; in fact I was a very reluctant singer. I used to shy away in primary school but would be called out for solos which made me nervous. But when I did do it I would feel the magic of music wash over me.
Why did you choose the guitar as your main instrument?
I’m actually self-taught. I learnt in 2010 while an exchange student Art at Leeds University in England. I got a guitar from a friend there and would stay in my room and play all day.
When did you decide to focus on music?
I decided in 2012. I just decided to be in East London and met like-minded artist and did tours so I could grow as a performer. I did my EP, Nali iThemba, in 2013, which was me saying ‘this is me, this is how I sound and who I want to be’.
How did the collaboration with Revolution come about?
They actually knew a good family friend who had worked on my EP. I recorded vocals for a song they sent to me and sent it back the next day; I’m like that if I make a connection with a song. Revolution are like my big brothers now.
How would you describe your sound?
Although many think I’m a house musician, actually a folk musician with references of Afro pop, Soul and Jazz, my sound is very indie.
The SAMA nomination – how do you feel?
I’m honoured to be nominated in the Best Adult Contemporary category with such amazing people. I think we’re all alike in that we’re great lovers of live performances. I never thought I’d say this out loud, but yes I’d love to win.
Why did you choose to be independent?
My parents were scared of the industry and so I started building my career at home. My own indie label, One Shushu Day Artistry, was a friendly place to start and my music opened doors for me. Growth is slower and I don’t have access to certain things but I love that I’m doing things my way.
Pics: Litha Mpiyakhe