17 Sep Darkie Fiction: New School Nostalgia

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Darkie Fiction has an unmistakable gravitational pull that sucks you into their warm, nostalgiac and optimistic embrace. My first encounter with Yoza Mnyanda and Kuthulakwe Nkosi ‘Katt Daddy’ Siboto – who comprise the group – was their celebratory single, Bhoza – the video for which was as immediately captivating as the song it accompanies. It was vibrant and uplifting and signalled the coming of an act that had all the confidence of seasoned campaigners.  Their sound is reminiscent of the golden age of homegrown musical forebears Boom Shaka, TKZee and Letta Mbulu who for them – like many of their fans – are their earliest musical references.
 
It’s a common enough thing to have a healthy appreciation for the musical icons of yesteryear but how does one take this to a place beyond imitation into truly innovative territory?
 
Their blueprint is based on authenticity and the sum of what Darkie Fiction offers up in spades is not just familiar but personal – a bespoke offering born of the glory days that seem now, thanks to DF, not so far out of reach. They are not the only agents of change championing this view of local music. Bougie Pantsula, Mx Blouse andStiff Pap – whose producer, Jakinda lent his production to the group’s debut Sobabini – have embraced all aspects of their heritage to create sounds that honour the legacy of kwaito’s pioneers while emboldening their sound and expanding its borders. Whether it be hip-Hop or electronic elements, Darkie Faction and the other members of the new school have recaptured a South African sound and are spreading it to the masses.
 
Words: Tshiamo Seape

 

Photographer: Amy Braaf

 

How does the story of Darkie Fiction begin? From your first meeting to the first single, what was the journey like?

We met at an event at the Waiting room in Cape Town where we were both performing, we clicked and a year and a half later we had the idea to join as a duo. We met up with Jakinda (one half of music duo- Stiff Pap) to work on our first song and see what we could do together- Selula was born. The rest is history.

 

I imagine the past year has been quite a whirlwind. How close or far to your initial expectations has the journey been?

Very far from the initial expectation. We went into this expecting nothing really- we were just giving it a try. We never thought we’d be a fully fledged brand with articles written about us and achievements like being Apple Music’s spotlight artist.

 

Your collaborators include Thor Rixon, Jakinda, Albany Lore among others. As new artists, how did you infiltrate these creative spaces and get other artists to trust you?

Weirdly enough, it just happened naturally. I (Yoza) knew Jakinda from school in East London and the other people we met through social media and formed friendships that turned into music. When God has a plan, things just align. It’s not even our doing.

 

What’s your favourite song off the EP?

Our favourite song changes all the time but right now our favourite song is Gumbafaya.

 


“Hollywood made us aspire to be, look and sound like Hollywood and that caused a shift…We’re working towards becoming a reminder for this country.”


 

Where have you enjoyed performing A Mzantsi Evolution the most?

Definitely Oppi Koppi.

 

When and why do you think the music of yesteryear – the music you have become associated with – fell out of favour or became the exception instead of the norm?

When globalisation happened. America sold us Hollywood and the sound and the fashion and South Africa became Little America. Hollywood made us aspire to be, look and sound like Hollywood and that caused a shift, it made South Africans forget how much heritage they come from. We’re working towards becoming a reminder for this country.

 

Who are some of the artists who you look up to who are currently championing a distinctively South African sound?

There are so many: Sun El Musician, Samthing Soweto, Muzi, Sjava, Stiff Pap, Robin Thirdfloor, Bongeziwe Mabandla to name a few.

 


“There’s an industry and pace in Johannesburg. The first question someone asks you is “what do you do?” and that pushes and motivates you.”


 

Looking at your visuals for your music and your style in general, I’m curious as to whether you have artistic backgrounds outside of music because everything you do comes across as super polished and well thought out.

Yoza: studied screen production and am also a cinematographer.

Katt: I’m a stylist. I used to sell clothes from my car for money as well as fix old clothes so I’ve always been involved in fashion.

I guess we use those two worlds and backgrounds and merge them into one thing.

 

How has being based in Joburg differed from your time in Cape Town, and why the move?

The main difference is the amount of thriving black people, it is very inspiring. Secondly, there’s an industry and pace in Johannesburg. The first question someone asks you is “what do you do?” and that pushes and motivates you. There is a cap in Cape Town: you reach a certain level and can’t go much further and there aren’t many opportunities for a young black creative.

 

What advice can you share about to break into the industry and become noticed?

Trust your gut, pray and keep pushing. Don’t let anybody tell you how to be. Our dreams and goals have been put in our minds because we can achieve them.

 

What upcoming projects can you tell us about?

 We are working on our next music video. Stay tuned

 

 

For more on Darkie Fiction, follow them on Instagram


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