From busker to big buzz in the space of just a year

Mlindo The Vo­cal­ist is shak­ing the mu­sic scene. Buhle Mbonambi spoke to the new­comer about fame, mu­sic and fans

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - MUSIC -

MLINDO The Vo­cal­ist is strug­gling with fame. He’s strug­gling with shar­ing his pri­vate time with peo­ple and finds it dif­fi­cult to strike a bal­ance of when to take self­ies with fans. Fame has led to him be­ing in­jured three times while per­form­ing. And yet he wouldn’t change it for any­thing.

Not that any­one would blame him – his suc­cess is the stuff of dreams. It’s in­cred­i­ble to think that in De­cem­ber last year, Mlindo was busk­ing at Durban’s uShaka Marine World, some­thing he started do­ing in 2013. A year later, he’s one of the most pro­lific new­com­ers in the mu­sic in­dus­try.

We first heard him on Sun El Mu­si­cian’s Bamthathile, be­fore he re­leased his first sin­gle, AmaB­lesser, and the cur­rent hit, Ma­cala, from his debut al­bum, Emakhaya.

He was dis­cov­ered on so­cial me­dia af­ter he posted videos singing cov­ers of famous songs, which he would strip down and make his own. That led to him be­ing signed by Sony Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment.

“I’m sur­prised it took me go­ing vi­ral on so­cial me­dia be­fore I got a record deal,” he told me this week.

“I had been send­ing de­mos and mix tapes to record la­bels for many years and I wouldn’t get an an­swer. It’s funny that the one thing I used daily for friv­o­lous things be­came the platform that led to me be­ing signed.”

He’s surely not the first to be dis­cov­ered on the in­ter­net (Justin Bieber most fa­mously), some­thing that even Fox’s Em­pire is ex­plor­ing this cur­rent sea­son.

Ma­cala is one of the songs he used to sing on so­cial me­dia be­fore be­ing signed. The song fea­tures his brother, Sfeesoh, rap­per Kwesta and vo­cal­ist Thab­sie. It’s now his big­gest hit.

“I guess it’s be­cause peo­ple want mu­sic that is time­less, some­thing they can lis­ten to many years down the line. I don’t con­form to gen­res. I make good mu­sic, mu­sic with a message, a com­men­tary on what’s hap­pen­ing in so­ci­ety, good and bad. It’s mu­sic that is au­then­tic to me and my lived ex­pe­ri­ences. It’s mu­sic many peo­ple can re­late to.”

It’s im­por­tant for him to do that be­cause he also wants his fa­ther, a staunch, tra­di­tional Zulu man and Shembe devo­tee, to not be alarmed when he hears his mu­sic on ra­dio.

“My fa­ther is a no-non­sense kind of guy. He wasn’t and still isn’t afraid to discipline us, so at the back of my mind I have to think about how he would re­act to the mu­sic. And so far, so good.”

His next ma­jor per­for­mance is at the Capitec Live Bet­ter Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, fea­tur­ing some of the most-booked South African artists, at King’s Park Sta­dium in Durban on De­cem­ber 15 and 16.

The scars re­ferred to ear­lier come from his per­for­mance style.

I won­der if he has a stage per­sona. “I ac­tu­ally do,” he laughs.

“I’m re­ally shy and I ba­si­cally come alive on stage. I’m hap­pi­est when I’m on stage.

“I wish I could al­ways be that per­son. He’s fun.”

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