Faces of 2013: Making music that stands alone
There’s a new sound on the horizon. The sassy Bongi Mvuyana pushes boundaries and talks to Lesley Mofokeng about her breakout year.
Bongi Mvuyana’s voice and experimental lyrical approach are refreshing. It’s not easy to pigeonhole her music as she moves with ease from intricate contemporary jazz to soul and vocal house.
All of her amazing talent will be crystalised in a debut album slated for an autumn 2013 release. Titled Dopamine, she says it’s about “the pleasure of love, the pain it brings when our security within love is compromised and how, without that pain, it wouldn’t feel so damn good”.
Mvuyana further offers: “Love is the cure and the cause, like a drug and an endorphin, the rush and the destruction. It’s like dopamine, your body produces it naturally when you feel good. Our addictions act on the dopamine system.”
Mvuyana traces her interest in music from childhood.
“My earliest memory of music is of my dad playing records while I curled up on his belly on the verandah at home. Like every other kid, I used to sing in front of the mirror with a hairbrush, but for me it felt real, like one day it really would happen. When I discovered Maxwell (a US soul and R&B singer) I was more certain than ever about what I wanted to do.”
After school, she joined a band, Stereo Night School, which enjoyed a warm reception from Joburg clubs and as far as the UK. “That attention gave me the drive I needed.”
Her work ethos is steeped in being unique and finding a niche. “I love working with musicians with a fresh ear, who aren’t afraid to experiment and push themselves. That’s why working with Thusi and Ade from The Fridge for the last four years has been so fulfilling musically.
“The creativity and inspiration never stops and it’s all love. It’s all about good music and respect for each other as musicians,” says Mvuyana.
“William Dewar, the ‘baddest’ guy I know on piano, takes things a notch further. His finesse and exploratory approach inspires me to have more of that – vocally and lyrically.”
With all that in place, Mvuyana says she aims to create authentic, inspiring music.
“I don’t know what this music I’m making is called. I just hope it will challenge ideas and resonate with people.”