“Trauma, but make it
Talented author, singer and actor Nakhane (Touré) has relocated to London to seek out new places, people and inspiration, following the recent release of his album, You Will Not Die. We caught up with him during a recent visit to Jo’burg
With a novel, two albums and a critically acclaimed film under his belt, Nakhane’s already writing again, but isn’t yet sure what it will turn out to be. “I’ve found myself waking up wanting to read and write. I seem to have lots of words in my head right now. I’ve also gone back to the way I used to write at first – going for walks, being inspired by things and then writing little vignettes. From those, I create short stories or songs,” he says.
Fans are still working their way through his soulful, electronica album, You Will Not Die, and the passionate, pared-down videos he’s been releasing. Nakhane says he’s enjoying the songs on the album more than those on his first offering,
“When I finished my first album, I found that I wanted to get away from it immediately. I also didn’t like the crowds I was playing to – white, middle-class men with plaid shirts and beards – and my instinct was to challenge them. I just wasn’t ticking the boxes with authenticity. “It’s been very different with my second album. During performances of my new songs, I see myself as a shaman or priest of that experience and I allow people to participate by asking questions between songs. If you think about African culture and izimbongi, audience participation is historically a very powerful thing. Similarly, with my performances, I want my audience to leave changed by the music.”
Nakhane says the gut-wrenching opening track, Violent Measures, is one of his favourites, as it reinforces the idea of laughing at yourself in trying circumstances.
“On some level, joy is combat in a world that gains from your pain and your selfhate, especially as people of colour. Being happy and smiling in the face of adversity becomes revolutionary, strangely enough. The simple fact that queer people exist in the media is revolutionary enough, even if they’re not ‘woke’. Being visibly queer without any shame attached to it is powerful. A friend and I were joking recently about how the album’s message for us is ‘trauma, but make it fashion. That really resonates with me. It’s hard to make something off-centre but that’s the kind of work that’s more interesting for me,” he says.