Moneoa burst onto the music scene with sensational vocals on Shugasmakx's 'Take It Easy', which she followed up with her own single 'Is’Bhanxa'. Her album, Coming From...Going To, garnered three Metro FM nominations and she's put in solid work this year - earning her status as an industry darling and crowd favourite. The 23-year-old songstress was recently nominated in the Most Gifted Newcomer category in the upcoming Channel O Awards. She's known for her sweet, soulful voice, serious dance moves and feisty social media presence. We decided to find out from the rising star what's on her agenda and how she's handling the fame game.
You’re nominated in the Most Gifted Newcomer category at the Channel O Awards – congrats! Does that come as a shock to you?
It’s such a big deal – I’m so honoured. To be honest with you, I was really surprised about it – I didn’t expect something like this to happen so soon for me.
The event is just around the corner (30 November). Can we expect a big 'red carpet moment' from you?
I’m speaking to Scalo, who will be designing my dress. I think it’s going to be very nice – I’m going for a retro, red carpet look - I hope it's going to be a 'moment'!
How does coming from a dance background influence your performance style?
Being a dancer definitely contributes to my performance – I’m used to being on stage and entertaining. Some artists have dancers, but they don’t really move on stage. I think international artists pull off choreography better, so, for me, that’s what sets me apart here. It’s definitely helped my performance.
And we've seen those pics of you twerking on stage… Is that part of your act?
[Laughs] That was just something that I used to get people talking! It’s important to add some flavor to your performance, especially when you’re performing for a young crowd. I’d never do that at a corporate gig.
You’ve had an intense year. It's your first full year in the industry and you've released an album, been at the Metros and now the Channel O's. What's been your recipe for success?
I can’t really say [that there’s been a recipe]. It just happened! it’s been a blessing and it’s something I’ve prayed about, but everything just seemed to happen on it’s own. To an extent, I always knew it’d happen for me – it was just a matter of ‘when’. Things seemed to have escalated very quickly and it’s been amazing. I mean, I know there are people who’ve been hustling for years and haven’t been recognized yet, so it’s amazing that it’s been such a quick journey for me.
You’ve also had incredible features on tracks such as 'Take It Easy' and 'No Sleep (Remix)'. How do you, as a young, new artist, avoid falling into that 'featured artist only' trap?
When I do a feature, I go in there and give my best contribution to that artist's song, but, at the end of the day, I know who I am and my music, my artistry and destiny comes first .
I’ve read that you were initially interested in becoming a pop star, but your album has a distinct soul sound. Will you be exploring pop in your next album?
My first album is very dear to my heart, but, while some of the tracks are very ‘me’, there were others I did because I was advised to, I was told to do them because they’d sell. This album that I’m working on will be slightly different because I’ve been in the industry for a year now and I’ve learnt not to compromise. I’ve now proven that I can be mature, that I can do the soul tracks, but now it’s time for me to show my personality, to do something that’s young and different.
So what can we expect from your next album?
It’s definitely going to show the young, vibey side of Moneoa. I’ve written so many songs and I think people are going to be surprised when they hear them as people are used to hearing the mature and soulful side of me
You’ve gone from virtual unknown to fame in 12 months – has that been a roller coaster for you?
Fame obviously has its perks – you get a lot of free stuff [Laughs], but at the same time, it’s difficult to be so open to other people’s opinions about you and what you do. People see you on TV and they see this sweet, nice and friendly side, but that’s not all of you . They don’t know that you can be feisty and sad or just be having a bad day. So, when people go off at me and I react, they don’t seem to understand that I’m a human being just like them – I get angry when I’m insulted. That’s been the difficult part for me – to have to be something you’re not. It’s a constant emotional battle.
At the beginning of the year, you went back to university – how are the studies going?
I went back to school at the beginning of the year, thinking I’d have time and not expecting my career to take off as it has. But, to be honest, after the Metros, things just took off for me and I couldn’t give school the attention it deserved. I’d really like to go back next year – I think this time I know what to expect in terms of the demands on my time.
What do you do in your down time?
I think people don’t know I’m a very boring person. I love chilling at my place, watching movies and I love to cook – I’m a pretty good cook, chef level! I’d definitely do well on celeb Come Dine With Me SA.
Images: supplied and Moneoa's Instagram
Lunch Date is a weekly feature in which we profile a fab South African woman. Please let us know, in the comments below, who you’d like to see featured in this space!