Fresh Facedby Rob Cockcroft / 25.10.2013
Muzi is a fresh face on Mzansi’s EDM scene. Today we feature his debut EP, Bundu FX, and have a little chat to find out more about his musical background and where he’s headed. He was also kind enough to make two full length tracks from his EP available to us exclusively here on Mahala, for mahala. Download your Bundu FXtras here. Take note because we suspect you’ll be hearing a lot more about this talented, young producer in the near future.
MAHALA: Tell us about the making of this EP. How long did it take you to put it together? Tell us about the track selection. What sort of vibe went into it? What styles are you mixing up?
MUZI: Well, the first track I made was ‘Slow Hit’. Made it November last year. Then it sorta was hectic after that, because I make a lotta beats/instrumentals so choosing which ones made sense as the body of work took some time. The last track I made was Bundu FX and that was in May.
The way we selected the tracks was, firstly it had to feel right. My music is solely about feeling. I don’t really think too much about it. So when we had these 4 tracks they just felt right together. With that said, they all had to be as uncompromising as possible so that if I were to put it out I’d know that I was offering 100% Muzi. No compromise.
In terms of music styles… I don’t know, I don’t think like that before making music. I don’t say “let me make a bass heavy track” or “let’s add some African shit to this”. A beat usually starts playing in my head and then I have to make it. Some crazy shit, really. And people say that I come up with beats fast, but that’s because I’m copy-pasting it from my brain.
When did you get into producing and what attracted you to it?
My older brother, “Njabulo Afreez”, was my earliest influence in terms of music. I was probably 8 when I learnt how to listen to hip hop. Then the producing came like 5 years after that. Besides being a nerd, I wasn’t really good at anything else as a kid. Things like sports and extra-curricular activities weren’t and still aren’t my typa vibe. So when my mom got us that computer and my older brother installed production programs on it that was my chance, my way out of Nerdville. Besides that though, the idea that something previously in my head could be audible to others as well fascinated and still fascinates me. It’s crazy.
You’ve done a number of remixes of popular artists’ tunes like Daft Punk, Rihanna, Bring MeThe Horizon, etc. Do you feel pressured to create something really outstanding when tweaking popular hits that a lot of people love? What makes you choose certain songs to remake?
Do I feel pressured? No. The only standards I take into consideration when creating music are my own. The whole tweaking/bootlegging these hits is just my take on the track. Like adding colours to an already painted picture. Of course you might ruin it, but at the same time, you might make it better. That’s what I try to do. The choosing of the tracks is always really random, but it’s all tracks that I love.
What kind of music/artists made an impact on you growing up? Do you find your style is an amalgamation of all those influences?
Coldplay, Deadmau5, Linkin Park, Timbaland, Eminem. Yeah plus/minus it is, but I’ve added Muzi to it as well. Like when I was younger I’d try make beats like Timbaland or Mike Shinoda and they never used to be good enough because I wasn’t them. So when I stopped listening to music altogether, of course their influences were still a big part in my music, but I was also growing my own sound and I still am.
What software/equipment did you start out with when you began producing and what are you using to make beats now?
My brothers friends had installed Acid Pro, Ejay, Reason 1, Cubase SX and Fruityloops 2.0 Full . So initially I taught myself how to use all of them, but gravitated more toward Fruityloops. The other programs were too good, the drums sounded too clean. They were perfect little softwares and I couldn’t relate, whereas Fruityloops was the underdog and I loved that about it! 9 years later, I still use Fruityloops (FL Studio). I found what worked for me and I’m sticking to it.
Do you have a technique or certain approach to putting a beat together? If so, could you tell us a bit about that process?
An idea pops into my head. Sometimes it’s just a vocal, sometimes it’s a synth line, sometimes just the drums. Most of the time though it’s the entire beat which drives me insane when I’m not close to my laptop. Luckily phones have voice note recording now so that has helped.
The approach is always different, but often I start with the music, like all the synths, etc. I usually program drums last. I listen in until there’s no progression or whatever playing in my head then I know the beat is done.
As a DJ how much of the tunes that you play are your own?
I’d say about 40% of the shit I play is my own. The further I go the more that percentage will increase.
Was the intention behind getting into the DJing aspect to be able to create a platform to play your own music?
Hell yes. DJing felt like the next logical step, I wanted to be an act on my own, so yeah.
Where have you gotten to play your music out and what has the response been like? What gig has been the highlight of your career so far?
STR CRD, Tuks Rag Spring Day, Arcade Empire, Grietfest. Those have been the big ones for me. The response is a weird one. People react better to my music than the other music I play. That’s super cool, but also some people don’t know what to do because my music isn’t really something that people are used to. Grietfest was really dope! Looking forward to playing at Arcade Empire/Grietfest Halloween party on the 1st of November and Synergy (JHB) on the 1st of December. Should be awesome.
At what point did you feel confident enough to play your songs out?
Before I played in front of people I was a bedroom DJ for like a year. Got a lotta success there, LOL. I’ve been playing my music ever since my first ‘real’ gig.
What are you working on at the moment?
Just finished my second EP the other day, Fire Up The Bongo. Sick title, huh? LOL . Anyway, I know I’m still going to go back to it though, rechecking the mixes, etc. Gets a bit OCD after a while until my manager drags the music out of me hand. Then I chill.
It’s really hard to describe your sound. Do you think that future of music is genre-less?
Yes and no. No, because doing something that’s genre-less is the most daring thing you can do as a musician. Most musicians love genres. Genres are safe zones a little bit. Yes, because for the daring musicians out there, they take everything they know and squash it all into one song therefore making it genre-less. This is no walk in the park, but they do it anyway.
With that said, soon enough someone is going to come up with some name for genre-less music therefore making a genre out of it.
That’s a dope logo you got there. Is there any symbolism behind it? What does it mean to you?
Shout out to Daniel Ting Chong for the logo. Well, it turns out an elephant is my spirit animal. Besides that, elephants communicate with each other by stomping. Stomping = bass. Bass = Muzi. See the connection?
I got this write-up by King Adz who tells the story of how he met you and he speaks highly of your sound. How did you meet up with him? What sparked that link-up?
A friend of mine Sanele (Tempracha) sent me an article from SLAM-X-HYPE that King Adz was being interviewed in. I read it, thought it was brilliant. Told my manager, John about it . He got in touch with King Adz. Turned out King Adz was in the country doing his book launch for “The Stuff You Can’t Bottle” so him and John met and the rest is history.
Who truly inspires you at the moment?
Besides his occasional rants, Deadmau5 is dope. The production in his live shows is insane. That’s where I want to be one day. Musically though, Future Muzi inspires present-day Muzi. My past role models have let me down. So yeah, the beats that Future Muzi is making have got me stepping my game up. Lastly, my manager inspires me a lot as a human being; the guy really knows his shit.
Do you reckon your music is reflective of the township vibe where you come from or are you viewed as an oddball in your community cause of the type of music you make?
Haha, dope question. I’m an outcast everywhere. As one of my best friends said, “Too white for the black kids, too black for the white kids.” So my music doesn’t really reflect where I come from. It is, however, reflective of me.
Please tell us a bit about your background?
Born in Durban (only because my mom happened to be there when I decided it was time). Home is Empangeni, KZN. Stayed there till I was 17, then it was varsity time. Went to study medicine at UKZN, dropped out 3rd year. Enrolled at University of life by default and I like it here, tuition fees are zero.
So how did you make that move to Jozi? Has it been a sound decision working from there?
My manager had recently moved from Cape Town to Jozi. We both felt that I needed to come up as well because that would better our working relationship, and yeah, it has drastically. Yep! Jozi has been cool.
Do you have any other ambitions for a career or are you wholeheartedly into joining the music biz?
Wholeheartedly in this music thing. All me eggs are in one basket. No option B, just option A. Reason why I quit med school. They heal with syringes, I heal with musical bass.
Are you planning on studying anything as a back-up or study more about the music industry?
Back-up plans mean you’re planning to fail on your initial plan, so nope. Study music? Nope. Long as my lecturer Prof. Google is around, I’m good.
You have a really made-for-the-club, dancefloor-filler sound that can also do well on big stages at festivals. Have you been approached by any labels who’d like to capitalise on that?
Thanks for the compliment. To answer your question, yes. There’s been a few. Independent and majors alike. Right now we’re just looking for something that would work for both parties though, so we’ll see.