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Zaki ­ an ‘eclectic’ muso

“” SIHLE MTHEMBU IT’S hard to place. The multiple sonic waves all coming to a crest at the same time. It is like the soundtrack for the end of some­ thing, like listening to the last wave of an eclectic and self­referential version of soul. Or perhaps the start of a post­genre era in local music. To try to pin down Zaki Ibrahim’s sound to one musical locality is an exercise that is as futile as it is irrel­ evant. Her creative DNA is one that operates in that musical creative co­ordinate where the ease of soul music is fused with a hip­hop sensi­ bility and layered with the textures of Afrofunk and a twisted electro edge. It is a generational collision course. She is one of those artists who genuinely embodies that over­used adjective “eclectic”. So much so, that she seems even aware of it herself if her EP re­ leased in Canada in 2008, and titled Eclectica is anything to go by. Now firmly based in South Afri­ ca, Ibrahim is an altogether differ­ ent kind of musical animal. More confident and effortless in the exe­ cution of her craft. Her official de­ but album is a flirtatious hop across genres and sampling of cul­

tures: something she says even she at times struggles to pin down or account for. “I describe my sound differently every time I’m asked. I can’t call it one thing. Sometimes I describe it as hip­hop morphed into every­ thing else, sometimes cinematic, sometimes, spacey,” she says. “I guess progressive in that it opens up the possibility of creating new genres and to me, that is progress. Anything outside the box means that it’s grown beyond confine­ ment.” What makes her sound different in an era of synthetic pop and auto­ tune jams is that it is as diverse as it is conceptual. Mostly these ideas are driven by Ibrahim’s engage­ ment with the spaces around her and channelling what she observes and experiences through her mu­ sic. Speaking about the relevance of her sound in post­democratic South Africa, Ibrahim notes that it is important for artists to document the experiences around them and that will create music that has a slightly longer shelf life than com­ mon pop. “It’s a revolutionary era in the music industry. As musicians we are challenged to be one step ahead of the game,” she says. “I

think South Africa post­2010 has been garnering global attention in ways we may not realise. When it comes to music, I feel we’re defi­ nitely at the forefront of this revolu­ tion. “South African music in 2012 and beyond has the important role of breaking the mould of what the world perceives it to be. We have the opportunity to expose and project how dynamic and rich this nation really is. We are not one di­ mensional, we are a kaleidoscope of sound and style.” Born to a moth­ er who was an English teacher, and the daughter of South African com­ munity radio personality and ec­ centric freedom fighter Zane Ibra­ him, it is not difficult to spot the genesis of her creative roots. Speaking about the influence that her father had on her creative outlook, Ibrahim says he instilled in her an understanding about the importance of media and using it as a tool to communicate meaning­ ful ideas. “My dad has always said that me­ dia is one of the most powerful and influential tools to make a differ­ ence in the world we live in and its perception,” she says. “He often enforced media literacy: learning to analyse and weigh out context

II DESCRIBE DESCRIBE MY MY SOUND SOUND DIFFERENTLY DIFFERENTLY EVERY EVERY TIME TIME I’M I’M ASKED. ASKED. II CAN’T CAN’T CALL CALL ITIT ONE ONE THING. THING. SOMETIMES SOMETIMES II DESCRIBE DESCRIBE ITIT AS AS HIP­HOP HIP­HOP MORPHED MORPHED INTO INTO EVERYTHING EVERYTHING ELSE, ELSE, SOMETIMES SOMETIMES CINEMATIC, CINEMATIC, SOMETIMES, SOMETIMES, SPACEY. SPACEY.

before being spoon­fed a mes­ sage. Digesting information, sound and imagery is as important as food.” Having lived most of her life out of a suitcase between South Africa and Canada, Ibrahim is also an art­ ist firmly in control of her identity; something which is very important in a society which has the tendency to push out people who are not quintessentially South African. “I’ve always straddled the two places. In Canada, I had to adjust as well. I don’t really see the last three years as having moved back. I feel I’ve always been here,” she adds. “My music career started in Canada merely months after re­ turning there, inspired musically by my dad’s country. It’s been a contin­ uation and the industry I’m learn­ ing seems to have the same theme on both sides. Maybe its timing, but I don’t think either place has really figured it out completely.” This cre­ ative artist also took part in the State of the Nation exhibition by Zimbabwean­born Kudzanai Chiurai, playing a head of state in a newly liberated African country. She even had to deliver a freedom address at the exhibition’s open­ ing night. “I was nervous as hell! He asked

me to take part and I assumed he wanted me to perform musically. Closer to the date, I was told I’d be playing the role as the new presi­ dent. I have such a huge respect for Kudzi and I appreciate his vision,” Ibrahim says. She is currently working on an EP that will feature some left­over music and ideas from Every Opposite, as well as new material. “I’ve got two more EPs in the works, another No Edge­Ups mix­ tape [volume 2] and I’m already starting to craft the sound and con­ cept for my next record,” she says. “I hope to be constantly growing and developing as I aim to express all I need to.” • Zaki Ibrahim will be performing at Live – The Venue, 166 Stamford Hill Road, Durban, on October 13 as part of the Motif Showcase with Tumi, Reason, Perfecto, Abdus and Skye Wanda. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets are R60 at the door. Zaki Ibrahim's new album, ‘Every Opposite’. PHOTO: SUPPLIED PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Zaki Ibrahim will be performing in Durban on October 13.


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