ZYO rides SA zeit­geist in first sin­gle

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - ARTS - LUKE FOLB

IN­SPIRED by Daft Punk, David Bowie and Depeche Mode, a Cape Town-based Afro­fu­tur­ist artist has cho­sen to con­ceal his real iden­tity from the world and per­form pub­licly un­der the pseu­do­nym ZYO.

Draw­ing on his Euro­pean her­itage and African roots he has fused these with afro house mu­sic and hints of pop and disco.

ZYO is orig­i­nally from Joburg and after work­ing on live mu­sic events at which he recorded the sound, moved to Lon­don to work as part of the sound team on the iTunes mu­sic fes­ti­vals.

When he re­turned to South Africa 10 years ago he made

Cape Town his home and has been work­ing in the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try craft­ing the sound and songs for ads and lo­cally- pro­duced film and tele­vi­sion shows.

“I’ve al­ways been in­volved with mu­sic and when I was a teenager I was al­ways walk­ing around with my gui­tar. Last year I de­cided to cre­ate ZYO be­cause it was a con­cept I had in my head for a long time,” he said.

He re­cently re­leased his first sin­gle, We Are One, which also fea­tures Xhosa lyrics by Mpumi Sizani, which ZYO says con­trib­ute to his style aes­thetic.

“I had the rough demo, which I did us­ing Logic Pro in the stu­dio, and wrote the ini­tial lyrics, but I wanted an African vo­cal­ist and I reached out to my friends in the mu­sic in­dus­try, and Mpumi’s name kept com­ing up.

“She’s just got this in­cred­i­ble voice and you can hear me ac­tu­ally talk­ing on the song. She en­cour­aged me to do it. We had two stu­dio ses­sions where she gave some ideas and then we fused things to­gether,” he said.

The song aims to be a ve­hi­cle for change and fo­cuses on what brings hu­man­ity to­gether as op­posed to so­cial is­sues that cause di­vi­sions.

“I’m a big be­liever in Nel­son Man­dela and ubuntu was one of the things that came to mind when I was com­ing up with the ethos for who I wanted ZYO to be.”

ZYO says his name comes from the Zulu word “es­izayo”, which trans­lates as “fu­ture”, some­thing ZYO chose to fit into his style.

“I’m op­ti­mistic about South Africa and the name was a re­ac­tion to all the neg­a­tiv­ity go­ing on in the world. Africa is be­ing looked at in a cer­tain way right now with our vi­brant cul­ture and I’m pas­sion­ate about my pro­mo­tion of Africa.”

ZYO says Afro­fu­tur­ism is a re­ac­tion to the cultural zeit­geist and the theme en­cap­su­lates his style, from his mu­sic through to his cus­tom-made out­fits in bright colours and pat­terns in­flu­enced by cul­tures through­out the con­ti­nent.

“My Afro­fu­tur­ism is rem­i­nis­cent of disco mu­sic and vis­ually ap­peal­ing, which comes through in the colour and de­sign.”

He is work­ing on a fur­ther three sin­gles and says an al­bum is in the works, but be­lieves that the way the mod­ern mu­sic busi­ness works sin­gles should be his fo­cus through work­ing with more lo­cal artists.

“En­trenched in the ethos of

ZYO is col­lab­o­ra­tion. I’m hop­ing along the way to un­cover and pro­vide a plat­form for un­known artists. There is so much tal­ent here, and I would be so hon­oured to pro­vide a plat­form for it.”

PIC­TURE: DANIEL SNYDERS

Afro­fu­tur­ist artist ZYO uses elec­tronic el­e­ments in his mu­sic.

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