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INTERVIEW: Artist, Writer & Entrepreneur, Svuyo Kumkani Talks Navigating The Industry, New Afro-Soul Single “Selimathunzi”, Upcoming EP “Episodes of Love”, Clothing Line “be.Concious”, and More…

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INTERVIEW: Artist, Writer & Entrepreneur, Svuyo Kumkani Talks Navigating The Industry, New Afro-Soul Single “Selimathunzi”, Upcoming EP “Episodes of Love”, Clothing Line “be.Concious”, and More…

Meet South African Afro-Pop / Afro-Soul artist, Svuyo Kumkani. Like many Artists or vocalists, Svuyo discovered his talent and passion for music through his contribution in a church choir growing up in the streets of eTwatwaDaveyton. In 2018, he dropped a 3 track EP titled 53’17, which was in honour of his Dad’s birth (1953) and death (2017) year.

He is a creative writer and storyteller who also writes short stories as well as a Script writer and you can also pick that up on how he tells stories through his music. 

Svuyo Kumkani recently dropped ‘Selimathunzi’ inspired by the quest of getting back a lover. ‘Selimathunzi’ is the lead single to Svuyo Kumkani’s upcoming 6 track EP titled ‘Episodes of Love’. The EP is inspired by finding love and the ability to express love in all aspects your life, from family, lover, sexual relationships to your love for God.

Check out my interview with Svuyo below:

Hey Svuyo! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello, Svuyo is a very adventurous and daring 33 year old. I am a lover of life and a passionate writer. Sometimes I believe I am a great dancer, especially when music takes over. Music is my heartbeat and my soul always yearns to hear new sounds. I have the skill of writing and I narrate my journey carefully through that medium.

Talk me through an average day in the life of you? 

I am a full time high school teacher, I teach Grade 10-12 History, so I wake up at 05:30, do sit ups and push ups, its a new habit that I have adopted, I need music again to fuel my energy. I take my daily bath and get ready for work. I drive to Nigel and fulfill my obligations as an employee. In between the teaching alot happens, sometimes I draft songs, melodies come through, I plan studio sessions, talk to my producer about new ideas, speak to my videographer on new ideas too and also plan around my clothing brand called be.Conscious since its Spring and a new collection is expected and then later at about 4, if there are no meetings or studio sessions I go straight home, reflect and do basic exercises again then its bed time after the last meal.

What institution(s) did you attend and what did you study?

Primary School: Verkenner Primary in Benoni, High School: Willowmoore High School in Benoni, Wits University: Bachelor of Education (2007-2010), Vega School: Post Grad Diploma in Brand Contact Management (2018).

How did your journey into music begin?

From an early age I was part of church singing groups, as I grew older the interest grew where I started following the likes of Boom Shaka and kwaito Legends like Arthur Mafokate, Mdu and Tkzee. Watching Lebo Mathosa perform and the likes of Usher in big stages made me desire to serve music lovers exactly like that. The passion grew further when I started watching TV shows like Coca Cola Pop Stars and Pop Idols, more inspiration came when local music shows showcased live performances of the likes of Gloria Bosman, Siphokazi, Zamajobe, Thandiswa Mazwai and many more, I knew then I was definately in love with music.

What’s your take on the current burning issues in Africa and also violence against women in South Africa?

Two years ago I wrote a song titled Zolani, which means ‘be calm/humble’ after realizing the massive growth in GBV. The song speaks about the nature of the woman, they personify humility, love, nurturing heart and protectors /builders of families and yet we kill them, and by killing women or abusing them, we are wiping out generations as they bring life on earth so it they die, who will be the ‘middle man’ between the creator and men to conceive and birth new life?

In the depths of my heart and soul, I really believe that Africa isn’t where its supposed to be. The genocides, Xenephobia, Homophobia and the lack of resources and infrastructure sets us back and until we are patriotic and love each other, we won’t even begin to reconstruct our continent.

You have experienced doors closed in his face and being told “NO”, but you continue to have an optimistic attitude. Why so?

Recently I watched Lebo Mathosa clips of her performances and interviews, in one of the interviews she said “Everything Lies Inside Of Me & No One Can Take That Away”. Dealing with doors closing in my face needed me to be mature about it. Its takes faith and conviction of who you are and what you believe your heart desires to look beyond closed doors. Closed doors are an opportunity to knock elsewhere and work harder to be at a level where everyone will approach you and want to work with you as a reputable and respected brand. If you believe it, you pursue it and live it!

How would you describe the music scene in South Africa and is it helping indie artists as you grow?

Its beautiful, there is a mix of genres and new sounds mushrooming from old sounds. The birth of Amapiano, after the Gqom take over from Kwaito and the influence of West African sounds makes the scene a beauty because that yields to more creativity and growth in our music as Africa. Being an indie artist is not easy though because it takes you longer to get noticed, respected and to be given a platform to showcase what you can do. With the digital age taking over, it has though made it easier for us to take our music to the people and social media affords us the platform to market our music until one day, ‘big cats’ notice us. You can try by using the limited resources you have. What matters is that you are producing music and you are building your brand.

You recently released a new Afro-soul single “Selimathunzi”, what is the message behind the title?

Selimathunzi means sunset in IsiZulu, one of our indigenous languages. Its about someone realising that they have made a mistake by not respecting their loved one/s and they are realising now that they made a mistake and they want them back. Selimathunzi is a song where one pleads for their love or partner to come back home.

As an artist, what will you say keeps you motivated/inspired to stay dedicated to what you love?

Faith and conviction of the gift I have. The more that songs come and more melodies with beautiful ideas come to my space it means my well is not dry and that alone is inspiration enough to keep me going. Waking up to new mercies is also an indication that it’s not over. That is also inspiration.

What’s your 5 Dos and Don’t when it comes to music? 

Do’s:

  1. Be comfortable with your vocals and sound, never try to be someone else
  2. Be teachable and learn about the music business
  3. Stay away from unnecessary comparisons and beefs
  4. Practice and Upskill yourself
  5. Never forget why you pursued music.

Don’ts:

  1. Do not compete with others, understand your own journey
  2. Don’t be who you are not.
  3. Never doubt your own creativity
  4. Try to refrain from criticising others, tomorrow it might be you.
  5. Do not be blind, open your eyes and ears all the way.

What do you do to stay in shape, do you go to the gym? 

I am skinny naturally but I have started with gyming at home.

How do you balance your personal and music life?

Everything has its own time. With simpler communication platforms you can do more from anywhere. I ensure that I do not delay or procrastinate and I keep a young diary to remind me of important things. My personal life revolves around my music, its not that complicated, but maybe as I grow as a brand I will feel more pressure.

What would you say is the main misconception the public has about the music industry?

That its all glitz and glam. Its literally hardwork from the get go, sleepless nights thinking and planning, sending emails that no one responds to, continued self assertion…its really hard work! 

What aspect surprised you the most once you started working in the industry?

That its difficult to crack it in the industry. It’s not easy. But fans are genuine and its about them. 

Looking back to when you started doing music and writing songs, is there anything you would like to change going forward? 

Nothing really, all one needs its growth, a good team and understand the music climate. I am content, everything has its time. 2 years ago what happened had to happen that’s where my heart and mind was, I can’t downplay my own efforts and creativity.

Which brands, clients, artists, photographers, producers, directors, etc, have you worked with?

My first photoshoot was done by Arthur Dlamini of Dartphotography who was one of the photographers at the Maxhosa NYFW showcase, I have worked with Banzo Fakude of Banzo Films for my music video for Selimathunzi. I have worked with Lusanda Beja assisting him on his Joburg Leg of his Jes’Ulidwala tour, Obrey M under my company called  SELFMADEMEDIA doing marketing and PR, and Unathi as a cameraman. For my single I have worked with an amazing Producer – Bigboy Mashego from Daveyton and Ntokozo Mathabela on programing and engineering. They have also worked with me to prepare a 6 track EP that is to drop towards the end of October titled Episodes Of Love.

What do you consider your biggest professional success so far? 

Releasing a single that has played on Kaya FM, UCR FM and Durban Youth Radio, and the reviews are amazing. Also, recording this 6 track EP that will have a music video that will drop soon is the greatest highlight. Hard work is fulfilling.

Who do you want to work with that you haven’t yet?  

Sun’El, Black Motion and Damor.

What has been your biggest challenge? 

Finding a way to getting my music played and trying to understand how exactly one cracks the market. Processes given for music Submission do not seem to work. Seemingly there is another way of manipulating the industry.

Tell us two things people don’t know about you? 

I am quite reserved yet opinionated.

You are very active with a massive following on social media. Do you think it’s important to be online and if so why?

I did branding at Vega, I learned about the consumer and why it is imperative that they are part of your daily routine because masses want to know us beyond the stage, they want to resonate with us and feed off us so that they can also push forward. You need to interact and speak about real issues that affect all of us in a daily basis.

Born & raised in Standerton, Mpumalanga, but now based in Johannesburg, SA. How is that city treating you?

I came to JHB at a very young age, its all I know. The city is fast, it has more opportunities and its somewhat easier to get things done. I love the contrast if the two places. When I really want to reboot, visiting Standerton is a very high priority…the simplicity of life is rejuvenating, being woken up by a rooster is an awesome experience.

What are your must-visit travel destinations?

I was recently in Cape Town, I want to go back. I fell in love with Stellenbosch. I would like to visit Mpumulanga too, I hear the lodges there are amazing. Ghana seems amazing as well and I would love to visit Sierra Leone and Tunisia.

How would you describe your style?

Wow, I never saw this coming. Its funky….I can’t describe it but its a cross between Chris Brown with sneakers, jeans and hoodies to Khuli Chana with dope shoes, well fitting jeans with designer wind breakers to edgy Zulu Mkhathini is 2 piece leather garments and Maps Maponyane with the perfect and clean groom look.

Name 5 things we should take seriously about our style choices? 

  1. Its yours, own it. 
  2. Never Be ashamed of what you chose to wear.
  3. Buy items you love and need, do not always follow trends
  4. Know what works for your body including colours
  5. Shoes play an important role

Name your 5 must-have accessories/essentials? 

Sneakers and Suits, torn jeans and chelsea boots with a blazer; shorts and designer socks with local designer t-shirts.

What are your favourite fashion trends? 

Anything Chesa Nyama.

What music genre appeals to you the most? 

Afro-Soul

What songs are currently on your playlist?

  1. Azana – Your Love and Uthando Lwangempela Lusanda
  2. Beja – Yehla Ngonyama
  3. Obrey M – Ungukuphila
  4. KwamSun El – Not Yet Uhuru
  5. Unathi – Mona
  6. LeHle – Ungofanelwe
  7. Mr Nzo – Buyel’ekhaya
  8. Sjava – Eweni

Apart from music, what other projects are you currently working on?

My clothing brand called be.Concious.

Seeing you’re doing your dreams, what advice can you give others to pursue their dreams? 

Never ever start thinking its impossible. Do your part to the best of your ability.

Any specific plans for the future?  

Be in a position to travel the world, collaborate with amazing African designer and musicians, mentor other musicians and write books.

Any final words? 

The creator has plans for all of us. Find out from him.

Where can we follow you online and on social media?

Facebook: Svuyo Kumkani

Twitter: Svuyo Kumkani

Instagram: Svuyo Kumkani

YouTube: Svuyo Kumkani

Asuquo Eton founded talkmediaafrica.com, now one of the most visited TV, music, tech and features website, in 2011. He is also a social media analyst, media and entertainment consultant.

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