By Angelo de Klerk
I recently interviewed the upcoming, talented, South African singer/songwriter, Nomfundo Moh. We got to discuss her childhood, how living in Ndwedwe, KwaZulu-Natal (hereafter KZN) has influenced her sound, we also discussed her aspirations and inspirations, as well as how she balances being a 20-year-old musician and a university student.
Angelo: I guess I’ll just jump straight into it, yeah? Before we begin, I would really just like to point out that it’s great being able to speak to someone as young as you – in my age group – making such big moves, you know? It’s also nice being able to speak to you about where you currently at. Firstly, I’m interested in knowing where it all began. You were born in KZN, Ndwedwe. Take us through what it was like growing up there.
Nomfundo: It’s actually very nice. I was born and bred up here in Ndwedwe, endawe se makhaya, it’s a farm, if I should say so. Yeah, it’s a farm. So, I’m kind of a farm girl and it’s good. It taught me respect ‘cause people around here are very humble, they respect each other, we care about each other. So, that made me become umuntu wa bantu – I’m a people’s person. So, it’s even easy for me to communicate with my fans.
Angelo: I see, I think it’s really great that you really do respect your community like that. I also saw on your Instagram account that you’re a student. I don’t know if you’re studying there or away from home, but how is studying going? And is it challenging jumping between your music and your studies? You know, like juggling the two?
Nomfundo: It is! It is quite a challenge. Okay I’m doing my final year, Bachelor of Social Work, in KZN at the moment. Yah, it’s kind of a challenge because you have to maintain a balance between the two. So, my – the way I do things is I usually study at night. I know that during the day I focus more on music. So, maybe for someone else who is not used to this system, it might be a very big challenge.
Angelo: Yeah, it could be a challenge hey. I think you just found a way to balance the two, which is really nice. Earlier you did say that you and your community are pretty tight and all. Did they influence the way you make music today, and how was it realising that music was something that you wanted to do?
Nomfundo: Yah, they really did inspire me in a way, because… okay, well, most of the people around my community are Christians, I’m a Zionist. So, the Zion sound is acapella, it has that African thing in it, so that kinda inspired me because the inspiration behind my song-writing is harmonies, so I usually do harmonies like in acapella before I even proceed with having a beat made and having the song completed. So, they played a vital role in my sound, ‘cause I am that person who puts Africa first. My sound is African inspired and that’s all thanks to my community.
Angelo: That’s beautiful, very African inspired, and I can really hear that in your new single, “Lilizela”, which is why we’re here today. It’s a song that expresses love that is freeing, fulfilling, true… an easy love. How does that feel to you? And what does that type of love mean to you?
Nomfundo: I’m a person who values love so much, which is why I actually considered writing a love song. Like, as I said, I love people. But this one is like a love song to me. Okay [laughs], from me to someone, you see? From me to someone because I’m someone who values love to an extent that I wish – if I see that you loving me and I appreciate it, I should let you know that I appreciate the way that you are loving me. So yah, I’m a person who likes showing gratitude and appreciation, so “Lilizela” is that type of song. And I love rejoicing with other people, which is why I’m inviting people to “Lilizela” with me, so they can see the beauty of love.
Angelo: And you know, it’s really working. I saw that when you released the song, there was a lot of hype on twitter about it. A lot of people related to it and that was really beautiful to see. So, obviously we’ve seen the outcome of the song but how was making it? Was it challenging? Or was it easy? Did you wake up one morning and it was a spontaneous thing or was it a journey?
Nomfundo: No, it was – it was easy. It was easy for me to write the song. Like, okay, I’m a person who likes writing; but then, this other morning I just woke up. I went to studio and I was like, “there’s this harmony ringing in my head, can you please, uh, make this type of sound for me?”. And my producer just did the type of sound I wanted. And I was like, “okay, just keep on playing this, I think I have something in my mind,” and by then I knew that I wanted a love song. And then I started off with the line “Umukhulu wena” and everything just flowed from there. I just wrote the song the first day, beat made the first day, everything was just done on day one. So, that’s how easy it was for me to write this song
Angelo: That’s pretty interesting, I’m not going to lie. But I think let’s move on to you as a musician in general. You know, I think being a musician or an artist is important because an audience usually sees you as a particular type of person. And, in turn, the artist usually has a message they are trying to spread too. I don’t know how that is for you, what do you want to be known for? What do you want people to take from you and your music?
Nomfundo: I just want people to know that I’m a person who cares about other people. That – that should be one thing that people should know about me. You see, even one of my fans recently said he admires how I carry myself. Like if everyone goes to my profile to look at everything that I post, there are no silly jokes and all that stuff. Like, I’m not that type of person, by nature. I’m an angel [laughs]. I’m a person who just loves people, I love posting them. Like, if I love something, I post about that. If I love your music, I will promote you. I don’t promote my music only. If you do something that I love and I see potential in you, I just give you that motivation that says “do not stop”. So, I’m that type of person – which is even why I’m studying social work – because I love people. If you know Nomfundo Moh, you should know that that girl loves people.
Angelo: That’s really beautiful. You mentioned that you had a discussion with your fan, so I’m guessing you’ve got a pretty intimate relationship with your fans. Would –
Nomfundo: Yeah. Yeah… I call them “Moh-fam”, like “Moh-family”.
Angelo: That is really creative! Would you like to keep your fanbase local or do you prefer – would you prefer to have a global platform and, you know, influence an audience worldwide?
Nomfundo: Uh, I’d like to influence like a global audience but for now I think I’m fine where I am. But I want to build more towards that – I cannot stay here forever, I need to grow my audience.
Angelo: That’s true, obviously. And if you are trying to spread the word of love and everything, like you said you wanted to, I feel like that’s important on a global level – not only locally.
Nomfundo: Yah, like I just want my fans not to forget my love. Like, even if I happen to be an international artist, I still want them to know that “we know her, and she loves us!” See, I want someone to have that.
Angelo: Adding on to you wanting to be a global artist, how does that look like to you? You know, what does life as a globally recognised artist look like for you?
Nomfundo: It scares me to think about that. That is one of the things I fear [laughs]. But then, I think I really look forward to being a global artist. For me, I think you should also be a good role model if you are a global artist. Many, many people internationally are looking up to you. You know? So, you are like a shining star up there and if you happen to trip – okay fine, you might make some mistakes – but you have to watch how you do things, watch how you talk to people. All that… You have to watch what you post, what you do. All that.
Angelo: I feel like the pressure of being a global artist is a lot, hey?
Nomfundo: Yeah it is scary. It’s a big deal.
Angelo: I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it when you do get there. But yeah, back to “Lilizela”, I was listening to it and I listened to the different melodies and the vocals and they really do sound very ‘KZN’, you know? I wanted to know, because of the similarity, were you influenced by any of the big musicians to come out of KZN? How were they an influence to you?
Nomfundo: Okay, uh, there is a KZN influence. And I do build up from some artists like Ami Faku, but Ami Faku is not from KZN, I know, okay it’s fine [Laughs]. I do look up to some artists, I take a few points from them and then I build from that. But at the end of the day, I want something that’s authentic, I want something that’s Nomfundo-ish. You see? Yah.
Angelo: Yeah I get it, you want to be influenced by them, you don’t want to be them. Closing off, the last question I have for you… what are some of your short- and long-term goals as a musician? What can we expect from you?
Nomfundo: Okay, in the short term, I’m currently working on an album titled Amagama. I’m not too sure when I’m going to release it but I was thinking maybe mid-year because I’m like 90% done with the album. So, let’s say around June I will be dropping an album titled Amagama. That’s what you can expect from me in the short term. And for long term, I’m hoping to spread my wings more and work with much bigger artists. Even international artists, maybe Alicia Keys at some point. Yah, and I don’t just want to be an artist, like I wish to achieve other goals, maybe become a business woman, be independent – just in case things don’t work the way I wish they will, music wise. I want to know I have a backup plan.
Angelo: I wish you all the best, hey. I’m sure you’ll nail it.
Angelo: Well, that’s it from me. Thank you so much Nomfundo, this was an amazing discussion. I look forward to hearing an album in a few months.
Nomfundo Moh’s single “Lilizela” is out now! Listen to it by following the link below. Be sure to keep an eye out for her debut album, Amagama, expected to drop in the coming months and keep up to date by following her social media accounts, also found below.
Listen to “Lilizela”: https://nomfundo.lnk.to/Lilizela