Profile

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12min5460

Creativity, check. Technical astuteness and the ability to communicate ideas through design, check. Great visual awareness, check. There isn’t a prerequisite box that set-designers need to tick that Noluthando Lobese hasn’t. Being a hip black female and with a uniquely dope moniker like Hashtag Texture, she’s an off-kilter set-designer that tells stories authentically.

Lobese is currently the Art Director on the hit drama series, Vula Vala. The show is directed by Mandla N with Tiyane Nyembe as the DP (Director of Photography).

“Having an artistic leader as Mandla N, everyday was a wonderful challenge that my team and myself had to overcome. I think we really did well from transforming spaces to fit within our world to serve the story,” Lobese says.

As art director, Lobese created the world that the audience has been immersed in on the drama series. “From creating our own mealiemeal branding, newspaper branding and logo designs for the  soccer team ( Scorpions team) that includes banners, soccer balls and flags. It was all in the detail that can sometimes be overlooked by the viewer.”

Detail is imperative in this type of work, hence her nickname. “It definitely has to do with my work, telling stories through texture plays a great deal in my work. Texture is everything. It is authentic, through landscapes of texture stories can be told in an authentic visual aesthetic,” Lobese says of her nickname given to her by film director and friend King Shaft.

ALL SMILES: Noluthando Lobese. Photo by Zac Modirapela
ALL SMILES: Noluthando Lobese. Photo by Zac Modirapela

An award-winning designer, Lobese has been in the industry for over a decade now. She was introduced into the world of theatre by renowned set-designer Nadya Cohen.  “I studied fashion, however I’ve been lucky to have met Regina Sebright in 2008 at The Market theatre who introduced me to my mentor Nadya Cohen and James Ngcobo.”

“I design stage and costumes in theatre, production designer in commercials, TV and an art installation artist. I use my hands to create and mould materials that take a different form or shape. I call this work Mutation by using found materials, thread, and wool, plastic and other objects. Theatre and television is more collaborative, bringing a script to life through sets, locations, lighting and costumes. To be inspired and cautious of your surroundings plays a huge role in my work,” Lobese tells me.

Under the guidance of Cohen as set-designer and Ngcobo as director, Lobese made her debut as a costume-designer in 2009 in the production Thirst which was rewritten for a South African context and drew from Nguni mythology, which resonated with the past and the future.

Along with Cohen, Lobese credits Ngcobo for having given her opportunities to learn and immerse herself in the theatre world. “The Market theatre has been my school of design knowledge through the connections and collaborations I’ve made whilst there. Not so many directors are willing to give young designers / talents a chance like James Ngcobo.”

In 2008 Lobese studied in Stockholm Stadsteatern, Sweden as a design apprentice under the mentorship of Charlie Koroly. Four years later she was a designer in Salzburg at the Young Directors Festival as a production designer. She was accepted in New York, at the MacDowell Colony (NH) as an installation artist for work she developed while there, titled What It Is and it continued as an installation piece at Studio X, Johannesburg (GSAPP Columbia University).

OUT AT WORK: Hashtag Texture. Photo by Que Ntuli
OUT AT WORK: Hashtag Texture. Photo by Que Ntuli

She was an observer at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival (Cooperstown) New York. Lobese also worked on the Floating Stage (Bregenz Festspielehaus, Austria, 2013) as a design intern. She was part of the group of artists from ‘JHB Massive’ that went to showcase at The annual street festival in Accra, Ghana 2015.

Lobese is a consummate professional who has earned her stripes through her extensive travels, but even so, she says she still comes across people who don’t give her, her due respect as a working creative. “Being undermined especially the first time people work with you. It’s a constant struggle of convincing and proving yourself. Sometimes it’s because you’re laid back and do not feel the need to be dancing and sell yourself in the most basic way that the industry is expecting. I prefer the work to speak for itself and be given the freedom to create.”

She has a range of work and finds it difficult to say which stands out because the work is all unique, but said “Trapped that I costume designed in 2012, Salzburg Festspiele. It was directed by Zinzi Princess Mhlongo; It was also my first set design which was aired on SABC 1(Life is a stage) we had a crew of film makers (Born free media) documenting the behind the scenes process. A recent one is Rhinoceros which played last year at The Market Theatre.”

“I’ve designed most productions directed by James Ngcobo and have collaborated with various directors and other designers who are the best in the game. This involves working with friends and international collaborators”

Lobese spent her early stages of childhood in the Eastern Cape and then moved to Yeoville where she grew up. Being raised in a cosmopolitan space like Yeotown can nudge one into eccentricity and Lobese wears her oddness well.

She finds Yoga and shooting hoops as some of the best ways of unwinding. “I believe that I’m an inspiration to most people out there, I have not met most of them but they exist. I need a clear mind to keep moving forward and reach my highest, if I don’t do it I will never know how far I can bend my mind and remain fluid,” she says.

THA WOMAN BEHIND THA THA BRAND: Thando rocking one of her U Ts. Photo by Norman Maake
ROCKIN’ MY SHIII: Thando modeling her Unongayindoda Ts. Photo by Norman Maake

Unongayindoda, a term shoved at a girl who is said to be a boy-lookalike, has become Lobese personal task.

Unongayindoda is what I was called by the village community growing up in the Eastern Cape. Most Xhosa girls can relate to the term.  So Unongayindoda is a personal project and for the ones that can relate, I’m embracing the term. It is time we embrace shameful words that have been given to us through hate. The same way we have learned to love Soweto even though it was not by choice to vacate Sophiatown,”she says.

Clement Gama10/29/2020
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WITHOUT a doubt the unknown musician has always had the open mic night at some odd pub, live events which are lenient on requests for abrupt performances and also radio stations which still take music from unheard-of talent.

But there’s definitely never been a better time for the gifted and undiscovered than the one we’re in right now. I bet my worn out tyres that at least five in seven people reading this, have in the last five years discovered artists they’ve never heard of on YouTube via any of these channels; COLORS, NPR Music Tiny Desk Concerts and Sofar Sounds. Combined, the aforementioned trio has over 10 million subscribers on YouTube.

South Africa is progressively growing in this space with a number of live platforms coming through the net. Sunday’s Unplugged Sessions is one of them. “We wanted to give a different perspective to how people listen to music. In an unplugged set and an unplugged location. We saw it as a platform to also showcase undiscovered talent,” Music Director, Khanyisile Dlamini tells Tha Bravado.

Totally Unplugged. Photo by Township Boy Movement
Totally Unplugged. Photo by Township Boy Movement

Founded in August, Sunday’s Unplugged Sessions has already hosted four performances. They unplug an unknown kat and share their music with world on their YouTube channel, Township Boy Movement. “The concept of sessions is to create [an] artistic hub for musicians. We have a resident band that seeks to accommodate different artists on different episodes. Each episode focuses on a specific artist, so we get to experience the artist rationale of their crafts. We select our artist based on the level of artistic abilities that will blend with the expectations of the show,” adds Xolani Nkosi, who is the Executive Director.

The band with Backdraft on the second episode of the sessions. Photo by Township Boy Movement
The band with Backdraft on the second episode of the sessions. Photo by Township Boy Movement

The band is led by the seasoned Thulani Twala, with Mfundo playing keys, Tshepo on strings and Siya on drums.

Their second episode featured rap singer Bakdraft, seemingly in someone’s yard on a lazy Sunday afternoon as the sun was setting. “We use different locations for different artist. Depending on the style and personality of the artists. We will be exploring a lot of locations,” says Dlamini, who’s affectionately known as the first lady. She is also a songstress, who performed on the first episode.

Last month on Heritage day they opted on having a session on the street corner. “Our set up is not determined by the factors that are surrounding [on] the day that we shoot. Shooting on the streets was not determined by what day we were shooting in, but maybe our heritage stems from the streets and using the street on Heritage day will reinforce where we come from as artists. We are for the streets,” says Nkosi, who is a photographer and videographer that has been working for a number of years under his Township Boy Movement company.

Sunday’s Unplugged Sessions is a brainchild of these young Tembisans, but they have ambitions of seeing these sessions miles away from the Ekurhuleni Township. “Our plan is to unplug all the cities of Mzansi. Working with talent and undiscovered talent across the country. Hopefully incorporate brands as well to part take in this great initiative,” Nkosi says.

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In the same way a great image paired with an equally potent caption does for an article, so should an artist’s live performance do for an album. It makes it more endearing and grips the audience with a deep sense of engagement. Both artist and listener have been deprived of this exchange for the most part of the year due to the pandemic, settling for the seemingly arduous virtual concerts.

Zoë Modiga’s sophomore album Inganekwane is a body of work that has left many music lovers craving to experience it live since it was released four months ago.  “I miss people buth’wami, there’s nothing like it,” says Zoë.  “I consider myself to be an empath, I really enjoy to feel people’s energy and having that fuel me, where I’m not fuelling myself because virtual performances feel like I’m fuelling myself but the audience doesn’t understand how much of an importance they actually have in creating the world,” she says.

With only a handful of us at Constitution Hill against the women’s prison, mostly made up of the crew capturing performances which are being streamed to thousands, Zoë gave a consistent performance that should’ve been experienced live by many warm bodies at the Blooming Sounds in Joburg. My eyes closed, taking in the music, the sound of her voice is as pure live as it is on record.

“With the virtual space we’re in right now, I suppose me trying to be consistent is the understanding that I know it’s an awkward place for everyone to be in, I know we all like to doll up when we go watch our favourite musicians so I think that consistency is not taking that for granted ukuthi people are gonna be in PJs, they probably don’t want to watch a show in PJs, but they’re gonna tune in anyway and that means something to me. I suppose another thing, it is the music [and] it is the passion but also the product and I feel like if you want to exist in spaces where people respect the brand as well, you need to be able to do it professionally, regardless of the circumstances that you find yourself in,” Zoë tells me after her performance.

Zoe Modiga performing at Constitution Hill, with Banda Banda behind her. Photo by Sip The Snapper
CONNECTING WITH HER PEOPLE: Zoë Modiga performing at Constitution Hill, with Banda Banda behind her. Photo by Sip The Snapper

As Stogie T gets his turn on the Blooming Sounds stage, between the historic walls of Constitution Hill I find a quiet space to talk to Zoë about her work. Inganekwane, a Nguni word for fairy-tale, is a project that’s preceded by adjectives such as ‘moving’ ‘divine’ and ‘healing’. Poignantly released at a time when black youth is enamoured with being woke and is having conversations about what it means to be black in this world- it’s the perfect soundtrack.

Stogie T at Blooming Sounds in Joburg. Photo by Sip The Snapper
SMOKING THA STAGE: DJ P-Kuttah and Stogie T at Blooming Sounds in Joburg. Photo by Sip The Snapper

“This album is about a lot of conversations that I had been having for three years after Yellow The Novel, my debut album was made and released. There’s a lot of conversations about the state of black people and what’s that like. For the longest time I felt I couldn’t express it in my language, but I began to be affirmed by my audience you know, that’s the power that my audience has and that music lovers have, is that sometimes they can cause you to move into spaces that you would not qualify yourself for. So even with the response of the album, it feels the same way. People are qualifying you. It’s such an affirming thing because for me music is a personal thing, but for me the motive I have is to move people’s souls first and foremost before I formally get recognised formally through awards and those kinds of things,” says Zoë.

Zoe having a vibe on stage at Blooming Sounds in Joburg. Photo by Sip The Snapper
KUMNANDI LA: Zoë having a vibe on stage at Blooming Sounds in Joburg. Photo by Sip The Snapper

Her music moves more than just the soul. Her performance of Intsha had the tiny audience dancing, and probably a lot more streaming viewers’ hips swaying. “It always makes me lose my breath and twerk myself into a disaster,” a panting Zoë says while on stage. “It’s a song dedicated to the youth of 1976 and it’s a song that reminds us that young people are always part of watershed moments, we always make big changes.”

As James Brown’s message on Say It Loud, I’m Black & I’m Proud cannot not be misunderstood, so is Zoë’s Abantu. It’s a candid conversation she has with Bantu people- touching on black on black violence, self-image, and poverty but yet the song is mighty reassuring. “This song is dear to my heart because it’s part of all the conversations we’ve been having. It’s a beautiful love letter because it’s a song that puts us in a place of realising that we commit so much violences [sic] amongst ourselves as black bodies and part of that is calling systems into place that have allowed us to think in this way,” she says during her performance.

Zoë doing her thing at Blooming Sounds. Photo by Sip The Snapper
IYAGIDHA INTOMBI: Zoë’s dance moves display how in-shape the artist is. Photo by Sip The Snapper

With her trademark brush-cut, rocking a leather dress and snakeskin print ankle boots Zoë looked elegant. A glimpse of her Instagram page will let you know, that she’s an aesthetically-conscious one, and is comfortable in her style.

The moving imagery from Inganekwane, that takes us back to her childhood.
QUEEN IN THA KRAAL: The moving imagery from Inganekwane, that takes us back to her childhood.

It was her vision that inspired the album cover art, helped by an amazing team of creatives in its execution. “I’m blessed to have people who believe in my visions,” she says.  The idea for her cover stems from a visit to her paternal grandmother as a 5 year-old KwaMpisi, in rural KwaZulu-Natal.  “I’d always have this moment of looking into cows for a long period of time, and she’d [grandmother] always look at me like I was crazy. That’s the power of this record that it’s allowed me to really look back into childhood, look back at what’s made me who I am, right now.”

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IT’S no surprise that the West considered Dr. Sebi a health fraud because he stood firm against the pharmaceutical industry, but it’s unsettling to see Africans reject the natural way of healing. But four years after Sebi’s passing, and being caught in a certain pandemic Noni Godole is bringing about a change in the relationship abo darkie have with healthy eating.

“I feel like our Creator/ Umvelinqange would move the earth just to get our attention, we are by birth attached to The Mother and She will do anything to get us to connect to our true selves. Somehow this has brought [us] closer to home than anything. We got to cook more, get to taste ginger, trust nature much deeper than we ever have. I was raised with umhlonyane, I still give it to my kids and I have it in the garden. For the first [time] our people actually believed in nature and trusted nature to heal them,” says Godole.

Noni doing her thang. Photo supplied
Noni doing her thang. Photo supplied

Godole who is a chef and an untiring advocate for herbal healing hosts the Indigenous Food and Herb Expo this Heritage day at Betty’s BnB in Sharpville, in the Vaal. “I know our people are the hardest hit, we’re always the hardest hit where identity is concerned, we are given a day to celebrate who we are and a piece of our truth is slowly being wiped away by the ever evolving world and of course convenience with that comes self-destruction and we tear pieces of our DNA while at it.” Godole tells me.

Noni's dish. Photo by Native Rebles
Noni’s dish. Photo by Native Rebles

“This Expo hopes to reclaim our heritage and start eating right again, reclaim our relationship with the soil, with nature. The food we are consuming and claimed to be our own is a lie and it’s here to move us even further from our truth.”

The importance of this being hosted in the township should not be downplayed because too many times these expos- be it cannabis, wine or sex- are hosted in the burbs by Caucasians. It also dispels the notion that abantu can’t organise themselves. Godole says the Expo will go from hood to hood, to preach the gospel of eating healthy. They plan to hit the Ekurhuleni after this.

Eating healthy seems daunting, not only for the taste buds but also the pocket. It’s a stigma attached to eating well, that it’s expensive.  “That healthy eating is expensive and it’s for white people. I can’t deal!!!” exclaims Godole.

Mama in tha kitchen with her greens. Photo supplied
Mama in tha kitchen with her greens. Photo supplied

“Social conditioning is what’s killing us, we are told good food is expensive, and for you to be healthy you must spend. How much is a seedling, how much is one seed? A veg combo compared to a meat combo? By choosing veggies or growing them yourself over buying meat every day, meat which is killing you while you at it. We’ve been wrongly programmed, go to the Yeoville market and see the excuses we create for convenience.”

The Expo will also include performances and presentations by Noni and her guests. “It’s time we became ourselves, it’s time we lived our truth openly because that is what will save us. We have natural born, gifted healers among us and it’s like having a team of super heroes that were chosen to carry and spread light. On this day we will be sharing the knowledge that we were trusted with by what and who we are, we are suggesting much friendlier ways to live and save our world.”

Something Fishy. Photo supplied
Something Fishy. Photo supplied
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“HELLO LIEFIES” is probably not the first thing you’d expect to spew from a dark-skinned fella rocking a wifebeater, chino pants with feet bare, in the backyard over Drake’s Pound Cake beat. But I guess that’s what makes Jabulani Majola- a Zulu man based in Cape Town, who has a slight lisp and enjoys his coffee- so unique.

“The word “liefies” is Afrikaans for lovers. It’s a word I started using a lot when greeting friends in the latter part of 2019 and it just stuck with me so I just started using it with everyone” Majola tells me. The young man from Greytown in KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the many emcee who stood-out during Stogie T’s refreshing Freestyle Fridays.

His geeky yet likable personality which is a mainstay in all his eccentric videos and Instagram posts might fool you into thinking Majola’s rhymes come softer than continental pillows, but the dude can actually rap. Enough to impress Stogie T.

“Every Friday during the early stages of quarantine Stogie T was hosting IG lives where he was looking for some bar spitters that would feature on his next Friday Freestyle. I joined him on one of them and he loved what he saw and that’s how I ended up on there,” shares the artist.

Stogie T’s Freestyle Friday movement reignited the love for dope lyricism, was entertaining and perhaps most importantly, shone the spotlight on dope emcees who rarely get the recognition for their skills. “I definitely think that Freestyle Friday has given me credibility as an emcee you know,” Majola says. “Being on platform like Freestyle Friday amongst some of the greatest bar spitters in the country and being shown love by one of the best to ever touch the mic. I don’t think people view me any different though. For most of them Freestyle Friday was the first time they saw/ heard me. For those that already knew me I think they always knew that I can emcee.”

Majola has been based in Cape Town for about five years now, after relocating to join a Christian youth organization called The Message Trust. “…I’ve been curious about Joburg, however never thought it was right to move that side over the years.”

During his time in the Cape Majola has been part of a band, Kinetic IV which can be categorized as a faith collective that has a strong pop sound- Gospel seemingly targeted at young people. But it’s the stuff he’s done solo that really slaps and is more compelling. The difference isn’t just sonically, but his rhymes and his storytelling have a wider reach than the material he records with the band.

“First and foremost I’m a big consumer of music, I listen to [it] all the time. I listen to loads of genres and in that I love to explore different cultures and sub cultures they represent,” Majola says. He is yet to release a solo project, but he’s done a number of freestyles which have managed to generate hype around him.

In a move that is of a bygone era of rap, he tried his luck on radio at Good Hope FM’s cypher sessions on a Thursday evening, and through that Majola left a mark on legendary DJ Ready D. “This [Thursday Hip Hop show] was a platform for all upcoming emcees to come through and showcase their skills and represent where they’re from and this is where we met initially. He then later on contacted me and started chatting on collaborating on a tune together that we then recorded at Redbull Studios.” The song is on DJ Ready D’s new album Ghoema Music.

Majola reminds me of artists such as André 3000 who are aesthetically-conscious in everything they do. This goes beyond being dapper or having drip, but having that innate knowing of what looks and feels good.

The Man holding the cup, Jabulani Majola. Photo by Zoe Hibbert.
The Man holding the cup, Jabulani Majola. Photo by Zoe Hibbert.

His vest and chinos combination with no shoes in the Freestyle Friday video is a case in point. “I use to thriftshop a lot, visit second hand bookshops, going to markets and art exhibitions. I love meeting new people and starting conversations. I’m also a writer, I write poetry and spoken word, songs and short fiction, I also love fashion. I read a lot of SA historic fiction and poetry and biographies.”


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