EXCLUSIVE: Msaki talks freedom and music – ‘True change at the root is all we hope for’

Despite Msaki’s claim to fame in recent years on features such as Wish You Were Here by DJ Black Coffee and Prince Kaybee’s Fetch Your Life, Msaki’s career spans close to two decades. While reading and prepping for my interview with her, I discovered that the East London-born singer and songwriter musician, whose real name is Asanda Msaki Mvana, has been involved with a wide variety of bands. In 2015, she sang for a brass-heavy jazz band in Port Elizabeth before joining alternative rock band The Patience in 2008, according to Show Me.

Msaki is also part of Nando’s music initiative Bridges For Music, a non-profit organization gathering key players from the music industry to support its responsible development in developing countries, leaving a positive impact in disadvantaged communities and helping to raise global awareness about local issues through music. In essence, Nando’s involvement in music is about deepening their connection to creative communities by supporting emerging talent in South Africa.

It has been three years since the release of her debut album Zaneliza: How the Water Moves. I chat to her about the album, notions of freedom and Youth Month, in the lead of her performance at this year’s Basha Uhuru Festival, at Constitution Hill on 29 June.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Msaki, I am an artist, singer, songwriter, composer and curator.

Talk us through the creative process of Zaneliza: How the Water Moves.

It was simple, I wrote songs over a couple of years, mostly alone and I looked at the list of songs I had and decided to make an album. I arranged for other musicians to be part of them, that happened organically through performing the songs in different setups.

What are you trying to communicate through your art?

I am not really trying to do anything through my art. My art is doing stuff through me and I guess that’s a story that is still being told.

What does being part of Basha Uhuru mean to you and what are you most looking forward to?

The festival has always been on beat in terms of having a line up that’s interesting and relevant, but not necessarily popular. I am looking forward to being part of the line-up because I like most of the artists that are on there. Basha Uhuru taking place during Youth Month asks questions about why we have these voices and platforms, and how to best use them as a nation.

What does freedom mean to you?

It means the liberty to use my voice for something that I find important and having the freedom to create platforms for causes I believe in.

With that said, where would you like see SA in the next 5 years? Do you think there are any important conversations we should be having as the youth to advance the current state of our country?

It would be great if black people have land, if people could protest without getting shot at, and if our current president wasn’t a servant of white monopoly capital. True change at the root is all we hope for.

What can we expect from you for the rest of 2019?

More songwriting, more composing, more collaborations and the work will hopefully announce itself when it’s ready.

This article was originally published on Basha Uhuru.