Blooming Sounds

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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.”

Clement Gama09/23/2020
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8min11710

THERE probably isn’t a better adjective than ‘blooming’ attached to the spring season we’re in. But the word is also apt in describing the six young, fresh and eccentric artists who’ll be performing at Constitution Hill this Saturday at Blooming Sounds.

LaliBoi, Witney, Manu WorldStar, Moonga K, Lolo Skai, and Umlilo are the six Gauteng-based artists who will be presented on the day. Blooming Sounds is put together by Institut Français d’Afrique du Sud (IFAS) the French Institute of South Africa in partnership with Total South Africa, in association with Kaya FM and is produced by Bassline.

Umlilo on stage. By Jerri Mokgofe Photography-2
Umlilo on stage. By Jerri Mokgofe Photography

“I was struck by the quality of the music sent by the applicants, and I am very proud to say that each of the six selected acts will present a highly original and powerful sound to our audiences,” said Selen Daver, the Cultural Attachée at IFAS, in a statement.

The half-dozen of artists were chosen by a jury which included Josh Georgio from the Hugh Masekela Foundation, the Bassline’s Andrew Poane, Jerome Galabert from the Sakifo Festival in Reunion Island, Kaya FM’s Katiso K. Matabola and and Daver.

LaliBoi, who is one-half of Radio 123 is vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, who collaborates with Spoek Mathambo to create a unique blend of hip-hop, jazz and traditional South African tribal music. He will be performing on the day, including Zambian-born musician Moonga K who was raised by a musical family. Umlilo is a genre and gender bending multi-disciplinary artist whose signature sound has been dubbed as ‘future kwaai’.

Lolo Skai. Photo supplied
Lolo Skai. Photo supplied

Manu WorldStar is a Johannesburg born Congolese artist who has been lauded as the breakout artist as well as ‘a must watch’ African act. Zimbabwean-born vocalist Lolo-Skai’s music is influenced by neo soul, afro pop music and poetry which she has loved from an early age, will also grace the stage. Witney, an independent vocalist, songwriter, model, actress, aspiring producer and DJ, whose powerful lyrics are carried by her eclectic voice and soul-inspired sound is part of the chosen six performers.

Moonga K. Photo supplied
Moonga K. Photo supplied

“They all have a fresh sound and seem to be really paying attention to their craft. They seem to be trying something daring and original with their music,” says jury member Georgio.

The concert will be free to the public, who can enjoy the acts from the comfort of their own homes. The broadcast will take place from the iconic Constitution Hill against the women’s prison and will kick off at 16h00 and end at 20h00.

Laliboi. Photo supplied
Laliboi. Photo supplied

Skyroom Live will be the online live-streaming portal. They showcase live performances and have been ranked 12th globally as live concert producers by iRock.

Sakifo Musik Festival will also be a part of the French team behind the event alongside IFAS and Total. This annual music festival, which has been hosted on Reunion Island since 2004. The Sakifo network is a streaming partner and will be promoting and broadcasting the concert from its Facebook page.

Witney. Photo supplied
Witney. Photo supplied

The broadcast’s primary aim is to provide as much exposure as possible for new musical talent by giving them the opportunity to perform alongside the headlining artists Zoë Modiga whose sophomore album titled Inganekwane, was released a few months ago to critical acclaim and renowned god-emcee Stogie T.

“Blooming Sounds from Joburg is not only about revealing fresh talent, it is also about creating long term opportunities for this new generation of musicians,” Daver says. “We wish to have some of these acts grow and show South African music’s diversity and modernity abroad in a few years’ time.”

Manu WorldStar. Photo supplied
Manu WorldStar. Photo supplied

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