Musician Mthunzi chats to us about his music inspiration and debut album, Selimathunzi. By Kwanele Mathebula
Image: Mthunzi IG
I grew up in a small township called Hammarsdale in KwaZulu-Natal. I was raised by my mother and grandparents. My mother realised that I could sing at a young age and she always encouraged me to sing for my family. Seeing their positive reaction to my performance gave me the confidence to continue singing. Then one day, during school assembly while the learners were making a noise, I went to the front and started singing. I knew then, when both students and teachers started applauding, that I wanted to be a musician.
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I took the big leap to pursue music in 2019. Even though it was my passion, it took me a while to commit to it fully. In February 2019, I decided to leave my job as a baker to follow my dream. I got onto Instagram and reached out to producer and musician, Sun-El Musician, to help me get started. Luckily, he put me in contact with his manager who helped me break into the industry. From that point on, I started making music and eventually got a recording deal for my debut album.
Breaking into the music industry was tough. There were times when I had an idea for a song but didn’t know how to go about recording it because I didn’t have access to resources. Once I was able to record my music, I faced the challenge of getting it played so people could hear it. This was hard for me because I was making music to share it with people, and not being able to do so was discouraging.
My debut album Selimathunzi was a labour of love. It’s named after one of the songs on the album that represents the kind of music I make. It didn’t take long to put the album together but there were a few challenges due to the fact that I wanted to have a fresh sound. I had a lot of fun working with Sun El and Claudio while making the album. By the end of the recording process, I had recorded 23 songs and chose 16 to be on the project. I also didn’t have a clear idea on the artists I wanted to collaborate with until I made the songs and had a feeling about who would sound good on them. This is how I collaborated with Simmy on Selimathunzi, Ami Faku on Uyathandeka and Sun-El on Insimbi.
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Sharing a stage with Sun-El and Simmy was a huge career highlight. I didn’t think it was something that would happen so soon in my career. I also got the opportunity to perform on SA’s biggest music show LiveAmp and also travelled to Kenya, Swaziland, and Botswana to perform. Even having been on these stages, I still look forward to being on even bigger ones.