This Is Why Andy Mkosi Is Sharing Her Music and Photography on Tea Dates
Andy Mkosi is forever looking for alternative ways to share her art.
Andy Mkosi is an artist; she's sensitive about her shit. The Cape Town-based rapper, photographer and radio host is forever looking for effective ways to share her craft with audiences, and what she strives for is engagement.
When she released her sophomore EP This Audio Is Visual last year, it came with a lyric book and a photographic depiction of the songs. This was a way of making sure that people understood what she was communicating. She told us in an interview about the project:
"The bigger idea is to get people to hear, see and feel. We understand in different ways; some by seeing, others listening. This just another way for me to get people to engage with my content more. Sometimes I feel people are also really not listening to what I am saying in my music because I share a lot on music. So if you won't listen, please look, at least, you know?"
Last year, she realized performing in clubs wasn't a fit for her, because her music—mellow boom bap-based beats and personal rhymes—demands attention from the listener. She started taking her music to the people, literally. She performed in people's houses in a series of events called The Bedroom Tour. She put up a callout to her fans to invite her and her band to perform for them and a few of their friends at the comfort of their home. The Bedroom Tour was a success. It had several dates in Cape Town, and one in Joburg.
But, not being one to rest on her laurels, earlier this month, Andy started something new. She is sharing her music and photography in a new series of events called Tea Dates. She invites fans to come sip on some tea with her, and have conversations about her craft, which she showcases on the day.
Andy is a busy woman. When we caught up with her via email, she was in Lesotho sharing her photography skills alongside her friend, poet and social activist Lee Mokobe, who is the founder of the non-profit organization Vocal Revz.
Please break down the Tea Dates concept.
During the start of the year, I started spending a lot of time in tea shops, met people there and had interesting conversations. Apart from that, I was visiting my grandmother a lot, and whenever we are together, we sip tea. One teashop in particular, KaPaTee, got me thinking about performing in tea spots. So I toyed around with the idea for a while, and finally spoke to the owners Bruno and Diana, who were really keen to allow us to perform in the space.
I am always thinking about alternative spaces to perform, and this made perfect sense. Like The Bedroom Tour, what I really love about this concept is that it still allows room for conversation between artist and attendees because of its nature. Last year I released an EP, titled This Audio Is Visual, and I felt I could still do more to get the content created with that, to my audience. So the Tea Dates would then become a space to share that content, screen it and have conversations around the many themes I had explored on the EP. So the first tea stops were MilQ + Honey and KaPaTee. With the help of my friend Lee Mokobe, Thula Somdyala and my partner, I bounced off ideas, and this beautiful concept came together organically.
Why are you always looking for alternative spaces to perform?
For me, it's about combining these things that I love. If it was for me, I would always do shit in my room and not leave it, very sure that's a sentiment shared by a lot of millennials as well. It's also accepting that some spaces are not meant for the sound I create. I love intimacy, so my heart will always lead me to experiences that provide that. Also, I just love creating these experiences, whether it's a platform for me or other artists. Curating things of this nature gives me a thrill, jo.
Will The Bedroom Tour come back?
Yes, definitely. There is something in the works with Jackie Queens' Bae Electronica. Obviously, we are still talking about it, Jackie and I. There might be something with ByLwansta and his team as well. With them, I want to collaborate out of my city and country. So if you are reading this and want to bring The Bedroom Tour to your city, thuma mina jo.
Will you take Tea Dates outside of Cape Town?
Yes. But more importantly, there is an element of the Tea Dates which I want to explore called Tea Conversations, where I create video content—get artists from different walks of life to talk on video about a certain theme over tea. But defs, outside of Cape Town, they will happen. I recently met someone who makes tea, Ma'Tseliso, who is based in Lesotho, and she is one of the first people I had a tea convo with whilst I was in Maseru.
How has the Tea Dates been received in contrast with The Bedroom Tour?
Definitely brought a whole new audience, which is always interesting. Most of the people who attended, I mostly did not know, and I love that. It opens me and the artists to a whole new audience. For me, that means growth. Others find the idea weird, they don't understand it.
Are these shows lucrative? If not, what's the main aim?
The main aim is to create a space where we have an audience, perform and sell merchandise. We don't charge at the door because I also wanted to challenge myself and the artists I had approached to find other ways of making profit through selling merchandise at these Tea Dates or events in general. So my brief to the artists (Tatenda & Luh'ra) was, 'whatever you have merch-wise, bring it on the day, and let's get these people in the space and get them to support by purchasing our shit while they are still high off our music, tea and the lovely energy.' Merchandise is something we don't really explore in the country as artists.
I love the element of collaboration that the Tea Dates have allowed between me and the guest artists. We ended up meeting and contributing to one another's sets.
Most importantly, these are concepts that help me find ways to combine the things I do day-to-day with my career. I don't know, but for me, it just makes me feel like I am more relatable; that I drink tea, too, when I write my raps or whatever.
Are you working on new music?
Yes, I am. I have music stuck in someone's lab because I cant afford the mastering currently (laughs). But yes I am writing and recording a lot of ideas. I might release a single later in the year, but at the moment, I just feel like I need to do more work pushing and getting the content that I already have out. I am honestly tired of the EP stage, and my main aim now is something more challenging, which I am preparing myself for, businesswise and creatively.
What else are you working on?
Myself, jo. And other photo projects. But a bulk of my time I am working closely with Lee Mokobe and Vocal Revolutionaries. We are traveling the country sharing skillsets with young people and collaborating with other organizations doing similar work as us.