NEWSMAKERS ICONS NAKHANE

Fugues - - Sommaire -

South Afri­can-born writer, actor and singer Nakhane spent much of his youth wrest­ling with his gay sexua­li­ty and Ch­ris­tia­ni­ty. He will be in Mon­treal for the Mile Ex End mu­sic fes­ti­val.

He first came out as queer at age 19 and to­day – 11 years la­ter – lives in Lon­don UK af­ter re­cei­ving death threats for playing the lead role in the cri­ti­cal­ly-hai­led South Afri­can film TheWound, a film about the ta­boo of being a young gay man in the Xho­sa com­mu­ni­ty, South Africa’s se­cond lar­gest eth­nic po­pu­la­tion, to which Nakhane al­so be­longs. But since mo­ving to Lon­don, Nakhane has be­come the toast of Eu­rope, a glam gen­der-ben­ding per­for­mer with an ex­qui­site fal­set­to and whose new soul­ful elec­tro­nic pop al­bum YouWillNotDie is a mo­nu­men­tal mas­ter­piece of queer self-ac­cep­tance. Nakhane head­lines at the Mile Ex End Mon­treal mu­sic fes­ti­val on Sep­tem­ber 1. We re­cent­ly sat down for a can­did Q&A.

You are playing the Afro­punk Fes­ti­val in New York, and dates in To­ron­to and Mon­treal. This must be your first concert in Mon­treal?

Yes. I’ve been to New York be­fore, but it wasn’t to per­form. Ha­ven’t been to Ca­na­da at all.

My fa­vou­rite song on your new al­bum is In­ter­lo­per. What were you trying to ac­com­plish with your al­bum?

Thank you. I wan­ted to make an al­bum that was rich in sti­mu­la­tion. An al­bum that loo­ked at fear square in the eye and rea­li­zed that it won’t kill you. I wan­ted to make an al­bum about the senses. And an al­bum that wasn’t afraid to be both sen­sual and spi­ri­tual.

You are a crea­tive triple threat – you are a singer, you are a writer (Nakhane’s cri­ti­cal­ly-ac­clai­med de­but no­vel Pig­gyBoy’sB­lues was pu­bli­shed in 2016) and

you are an actor. What did you moost most want to be gro­wing up? I wan­ted to be a singer.g singer. Most­ly Most­lyy be­caause be­cause it was ea­sier to ac­cess mu­sic. I could sing whe­ne­ver and whe­re­ver I wan­ted. wan It al­so hel­ped that I was sur­roun­ded by a fa­mi­ly that lo­ved mu­sic. My m mom and aunts are all clas­si­cal­ly-trai­ned sin­gers. You the church came out convince to your you fa­mi­ly they at could age 19 cure but you? en­ded Is up it true back you in the ac­tual­ly clo­set. once Did prea­ched at a church against ho­mo­sexua­li­ty? Yes. All of this is true. It real­ly was a false start to my free­dom. I sup­pose I was more im­pres­sio­nable then. And al­so I hadn’t sha­ken Ch­ris­tia­ni­ty at that point. In your blog jour­nal en­try “Sex With George Mi­chael,” you write that your mo­ther as­ked you if you would have sex with George Mi­chael. How did your mom react to your co­ming out? It was ini­tial­ly dif­fi­cult. But things have come around and we are doing ve­ry well. How im­por­tant was George Mi­chael to you gro­wing up? Ve­ry. But not on­ly for his sexua­li­ty. But be­cause he was an in­cre­dible mu­si­cian. But him being queer hel­ped me deal with the fact that I was queer. How and when did you de­cide that the on­ly way you could live your life was as an out gay man? There comes a point in one’s life when they have ab­so­lu­te­ly no­thing to lose and the on­ly thing they have is the truth. My life could not have been shit­tier at the time I fi­nal­ly de­ci­ded to live as a queer man. I thought “Fuck! If it gets shit­tier than this, then I ob­vious­ly have my trai­ning.”. I rea­lize the path to your set­tling in Lon­don UK is a long and win­ding road. I knew that I would be mo­ving (other) coun­tries be­fore TheWound de­bacle star­ted. It just hap­pe­ned at the right time. I had been si­gned to a Eu­ro­pean la­bel and knew that a lot of the pro­mo­tio­nal and live work I would be doing would be in Eu­rope, so it would be ea­sier for me to live this side. I’d love to talk per­so­nal style with you – you have such a strong fa­shion iden­ti­ty. Where does it come from, and what fa­shion ele­ments are you at­trac­ted to? It most­ly comes from my mo­ther. I ac­tual­ly ter­med my per­so­nal style “My mo­ther in the 80s if she was a queer boy.” For me fa­shion is all about the fee­ling. How do I feel when I put this ar­ticle of clo­thing on? Does it make me feel po­wer­ful or di­mi­ni­shed? If I feel di­mi­ni­shed, then I take it off. Why were you com­pel­led to make the film TheWound ? How did the sto­ry mir­ror your own emo­tio­nal tur­moil as a young queer Xho­sa boy? Beyond the po­li­tics and the dra­ma that came with TheWound, what drew me to the film was that it was a beau­ti­ful sto­ry that nee­ded to be told. I still feel like that. I ha­ven’t wat­ched it in a while, but I re­mem­ber being in scree­nings and being proud of the film. It is a piece of art. Did bat­tling ra­cism, co­lo­nia­lism and ho­mo­pho­bia help you find your voice? All those things are there to si­lence or maim me. I had my voice beyond in spite of them. Are you ex­ci­ted to vi­sit Mon­treal? Ve­ry! Some of my fa­vou­rite mu­si­cians have li­ved in Mon­treal. Leo­nard Co­hen was from Mon­treal, right? RI­CHARD BURNETT

Nakhane plays the Mile Ex End Mon­treal mu­sic fes­ti­val on Sept. 1. The fes­ti­val runs from Sept. 1 to 3. For more in­fo­ra­tion, vi­sit mi­leexend.com. Read Ri­chard Burnett’s na­tio­nal queer-is­sues co­lumn Th­ree Dol­lar Bill on­line at www.bug­sbur­nett.blog­spot.com.

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