Toya is anything but lazy
When award-winning singer, rapper and pianist Toya Delazy releases her third album next year, it’s going to be quite different to her first two.
No longer signed to Sony Music, she has taken her career into her own hands and everything she does now is under the Delazy Entertainment label – including the six-country African tour that she finished off on home soil this week.
“I was feeling so gagged, strangled, I wasn’t releasing, my ideas were not what my record company was looking for ... I needed to revitalise my artistry, find the ‘Pump It On’ Toya again ... And now I’m finally back to what started in Durban. Jazz, electro, rap, crunk.”
After a business partner dropped out, the 26-year-old Delazy funded, produced and promoted the tour herself. She and her band The Warriors performed “the old repertoire, but reinterpreted the way it was always intended”.
She loved Zanzibar, meeting the Maasai and quad biking in the dunes in Namibia. “In Zambia, I was so shocked at how many people are into African alternative [music]. In Nairobi, the musical movement is so rich and diverse. I was collaborating with different artists who opened for us in every country, and we ended up jamming with them.”
Her stage surname may be a nod to her famous family (Buthelezi), but Delazy has been anything but lazy since she decided to relocate to London from Camps Bay in Cape Town last year.
She’s been steadily winning the respect of London’s alternative and hip-hop scenes, and you can expect to hear collaborations with the likes of British stars such as Lil Simz, the rapper, singer and actress.
“Now I’m in a big pond, even though I’m indie,” she says.
When Forbidden Fruit off her second album, Ascension, won Best International Song at the Out Music Awards, Delazy and her band were invited to perform at Pride London.
“I did my whole punkish electro vibe and something clicked. I’m like, ‘I need to take this home before I focus on Europe’.”
Speaking of the Out Awards, she isn’t keen to say too much about her sexual identity – “I feel it’s so personal” – but acknowledges her responsibility as a role model. “I stand for people being open to pansexuality. It was my chance to speak out about how we are all different, and that what was forbidden back in the day is no longer forbidden.”
What she wants is to spend a week with her grandparents, whom she misses desperately, before heading back to her small apartment – “it’s basically a room” – near Soho in London.
“I have a single to finish, which will be released around February, March. It’s about being awakened in the mind.”
And Delazy Entertainment has signed three female rappers, the fierce and gender-bending Klutch Kollective, who will soon be releasing their second single and then, next year, their debut album.
Delazy has taken charge of her destiny, which is no mean feat for a young woman in the industry. “I’m pure about what I want ... I’m living now.”
Delazy and her band have performed in six African countries in the past few weeks