Diversifying your skill set for creative wins. Mx Blouse directs his own music video.
- “How lockdown pushed me to take the plunge.”
- Communicating visually.
- Telling a story with fashion.
- Coming of age as an artist.
- Surviving the pandemic.
The Wire interviewed electronic and kwaito artist Mx Blouse about expanding skill sets, as the world changes due to the pandemic. As a result, Mx Blouse directed his own video for Phuzamanzi, from his album Elementality, released last year.
Is this the first time you direct your own video?
Yes. This is the first time. In the past I’ve worked with professional directors but this is something I’ve always had the intention of pursuing. Being on lockdown, and having no funds to pay people is what pushed me to take the plunge. I asked my friend Malibongwe Tyilo who works a lot with video if he’d be keen to experiment with making a music video with me and I’m very grateful to him for helping me realise this vision. Even though it took wading through some negativity to get me here, I’m happy with how it’s turned out. Going forward I’ll be more confident doing more work like this, so that’s a win!
Does Phuzamanzi, the album opener, set the tone for the rest of the Elementality album? What did you want to communicate visually with the video?
It does. The running theme in the album is intimacy – the desire, expression and manifestation thereof. With Phuzamanzi, it’s about nurturing romantic love but that’s not the reason it is the opener. I arranged the tracks according to what I think works sonically, from one track to the next.
I wanted to convey the theme about nurture. I was out in Hogsback (in the E. Cape), visiting friends after travel restrictions were lifted. I really just needed to leave the city for a bit and it so happened that they were isolating on their property in this rural village in the Eastern Cape with a lush natural environment. ‘Phuzamanzi’ means ‘drink water’ and so I thought it would be great to think about this in an abstract manner. Water is a critical element to nature and nurture is a critical element to romance (and other
Who styled your fashion for the video?
The video is not styled. I’m wearing my own clothes but I did have to think about what would look good with what scene so, as you will see, I thought the green cropped shirt (custom by Nao Serati) works best in the garden setting with the green and the azaleas. I thought my ochre Selfi jumpsuit would be great in the forest with all the brown pine tree needles on the floor and the white and silver sequined jacket would give an awesome, monochromatic feel against the concrete structure that is the monument. The monument itself is called Ntaba KaNdoda and it’s a derelict structure built in the days of apartheid as asymbol of Ciskean identity. It has a contested history but I just love how majestic it looks and thought it would be wonderful to play off the lyrics in the song to symbolise the powerful bond one hopes love can create. The lyrics in the song are: “Maybe we could build each other pyramids as a symbol of our bond’s strength.”
I love clothes, I love fashion and I think beyond its functionality. Fashion is a great tool for expression. In my everyday life I use clothing and make-up to make myself feel better when I’m down, but I also think it’s an extension of personality. I like to think of myself as both serious and quirky and that my fashion choices are a reflection of that, more than anything.
Undertaking directing duties of your video feels like a coming of age as an artist. What’s your feeling about this statement?
In many ways it is. You have to be hella confident in order to basically tackle a medium you are otherwise unfamiliar with, or something that is outside of your territory as an artist. But how I approached it is that, quite simply, I’m a storyteller and, in the simplest terms, that’s what filmmakers are.
Any big creative plans for 2021?
I wouldn’t say ‘big’ but I’m definitely trying to write more. I’m constantly working on music but I have no release plans at the moment. To be honest, priority number one right now is to survive while trying to balance the immense pressure on creatives of all stripes to keep going in spite of the current scarcity of income as a result of the pandemic.
C.S.A.’s monthly cultural portal, The WIRE connects the dots of culture. With concise stories, many with video content, take a premium dive into the world of African entertainment & cultural fluidity. It’s one thing to be hip to what’s happening but it is another to know why.