Okayafrica spoke with Toya Delazy and Keke from the Muffinz in the lead up to the Channel O Awards November 30th in Johannesburg.
Voting has finally come to a close for Channel O's 10th annual African Music Video Awards– and now artists across the continent are holding their breath as we count down the days until the winners are revealed on the 30th of November in Johannesburg. One of the premiere sources for entertainment on the continent, Channel O kicked off the celebration with a three city tour showcasing music from across the board, whether it was made to move your feet or soul. Aside from other South Africans holding it down in the awards, including AKA, Khuli Chana and Kabelo, we zeroed in on two very different performers– recently crowned first lady of electro-pop Toya Delazy and urban-indie-jazz ensemble The Muffinz' Gregory Keke Mabusela. We caught up with Toya and Keke in Cape Town, where the two shared their creative journeys and thoughts surrounding the days ahead.
Shiba for OKA: So the Muffinz… How have you been, where are you now and what has the journey been like?
Keke: Where do I start? We started in 2010, we all met in varsity and eventually decided to quit our 9 to 5s and… bake… muffins…
OKA: (laughs) Just like that?
Keke: For me personally, it’s more of a calling; I can’t imagine myself at an office doing a young 9 to 5! I’d die! Our bassist, Karabo, is the eldest so he had already graduated and was working, and he said “no way, I can’t do this anymore!” and decided to be full on in the band.
OKA: Now, the video that you guys are nominated for, Most Gifted Afro Pop … How are you feeling about this?
Keke: Well we didn’t know about it until we saw it on twitter. Channel O were just tagging everyone… and we only got the email saying “Congratulations, you have been nominated” the following day. But the whole day people were buzzing, and we thought, “What are you talking about?” So we’re grateful, we’re happy. We’re nominated for the video for 'Umsebenzi Wendoda', which is an ode to all the single mothers out there. We were all raised by single mothers, so we’re just giving praise to the moms for the great job they did. We’re all grown now, 'Umsebenzi Wendoda' means “the work of a man.” Basically, “Here I am mom, I’m grown; now you sit back and I’ll do the work.”
OKA: And you Toya? What was it like going from being Latoya Buthelezi to Toya Delazy, and becoming this successful? From the small pubs to performing in front of huge crowds, how did you keep your spirit going through all those tough times in the come-up?
Toya: Well it was a process. When I first got the chance to perform, I was excited. So with all that excitement, preparing your set… even though it was a small pub, it didn’t seem like a pub to me… it was a place where I could start the journey, sow the seed and that experience equipped me. Before my stuff came out I was performing with Baba Maal, Habib Koite, Tumi & The Volume, The Mahotela Queens for Africa Day and it was a real African experience. I look back and I feel like that grind was good!
OKA: Was it a very hard transition going from the traditional stuff to the pop culture stuff?
Toya: I’ve always been a mix of piano, soul and electro, that’s where I started. My roots are quite African, I love my Zulu music, but to achieve what I wanted to, (because I grew up in multi-racial schools) I wanted to perform for the ones I was surrounded by.
Being surrounded by all sorts of colours and religions and ideas, and all sorts of political minds, inspired me to write all the types of music that I write today which speaks to my generation.
OKA: So let’s talk about the video for 'Heart'. What a beautiful video. Nominated for Most Gifted Female, and made by a non-profit organisation?
Toya: Yes, it was made by Great Heart. They made all the fish and the props for the video. The director Jeana Theron (Bouffant.TV) knew how to do stop-motion which is exactly what I wanted. The video took such a long time, I was up at 6 in the morning until 6 at night, lying on the ground tick-tocking. I wanted to do it this way because I wanted to show a different side to the art. You don’t have to grind on a car to get your stuff out there.
OKA: And the track itself?
Toya: I was working with my secondary production team Jax Panik, top-notch guys… basically the song was speaking to my heart specifically. I’d just left home, I didn’t know how I was going to make it, I didn’t have enough money for rent, I didn’t have enough money for anything. And nobody understood why I wanted to do music. Everyone was like “How’s she gonna live?!” I had no one who was going to tell me I was gonna make it, I had to tell it to myself. Through that song I could re-inspire myself and keep myself going.
There you have it, both videos up for their respective awards are outstanding, and we hope they’ll receive the accolades they deserve! The ceremony is set to go down in Kliptown, Soweto's Walter Sisulu Square on Nov. 30th. Missed our chat with Sauti Sol regarding their nomination? Head here.