Cape Town - What was supposed to be a quick sit-down interview with DJ Tira and NaakMusig ended with a ride to the airport, when I accidentally arrived at the wrong venue for the scheduled interview.
Often when interviewing celebs we have a very short window to talk, before they have to go to their next appointment. So, when I arrived at the wrong venue. I was pretty much screwed.
With no time to get to the right venue, Afrotainment agreed to meet me at their next media commitment. A radio interview at the SABC studios in Sea Point (Cape Town).
With time running out, I quickly called a Taxify, and off I went. When I arrived, we thought, "Awesome," I could sit in on their interview with Umhlobo Wenene FM, and use the content for my story. A win, win situation.
But then it dawned on me, I don't speak Xhosa. So there I was, listening in on an interview with no idea what was being said.
All was not lost, I still had 15 minutes to do a quick one-on-one with the musicians before they head to the aiport for their flight to Johannesburg.
But nope. Afrotainment Managing Director informed me that there was no time, nada, ziltch. As DJ Tira and NaakMusiq couldn't afford to miss their flight.
NaakMusiq turned to me and said: "How did you get here?" I replied: "Taxify."
Tira then jumped in on the conversation: "Great. Then you can drive with us to the airport. Do the interview in the car, and we'll call you an Uber to take you back to town."
Naturally I was like, "Hell yeah!"
So there I was, Tira in the driver's seat, NaakMusiq sitting passenger and me in the back.
SIDE NOTE: I know this was a super-long intro. But bear with! I just had to mention how cool, down-to-earth and genuine these artists were.
So, here's what I learnt during the 25 minute car trip with Tira and NaakMusiq from the City Centre to Cape Town International airport.
Talking about his latest track, Mamelani, NaakMusiq says: "Mamelani is a qgom song. It's a qgom track with a touch of soul and the song goes hand-in-hand with a TV series I'm doing, iGazi. Where I play a Xhosa king, and the message is that everyone must unite and love one another through music."
"It has a strong message and I sang my heart out in that song. Even though it's a party song, there are parts of the song that make you stop dancing, and just want to put your head down and listen."
NaakMusiq (real name Anga Makubalo) says that he couldn't have expected a better and greater response. "The reaction is 100% what we wanted, we wanted people to feel good when they heard the song."
We tried, and even we couldn't find a negative tweet!
About his latest track, Malume, Tira says that we can expect a music video in the near future. "We just shot the video. We shot it around the Durban July weekend. I'm really excited to relive those memories of Durban July," he added.
(DJ Tira at The Durban July 2017)
I was shook to hear that Mamelani only took about an hour and a half to produce. "We do three to four songs a night. We are extremely passionate. I told Prince the other day, we could probably do a full abum in two weeks if we wanted to. That's how much we work."
NaakMusiq, who writes all his own lyrics, says: "It become easier over the years. The more you record and the more you sing the easier it gets. I've mastered the art of freestyling. When I hear a beat that I like, I create a song there and then."
"When I get to studio I hear a beat and I start freestyling. I write lyrics to all my songs. I record in bits and pieces, so I won't forget what I just wrote."
And to prove it, NaakMusiq put together a song just then and there in the car.
About the vibe in studio, Tira says: "We try to have as much fun in studio as posible, but we always make sure that we are 100% focused. But we party, because we make party music!"
JUGGLING CAREER, FAMILY, FRIENDS AND HEALTH
Tira, who recently had a health-scare says he's doing much better, but has learnt to listen to his body and take time out to relax: "I think I leart to listen to the people that I work with about my scheduling. I am much stricter with my schedule in terms of when I need to be at work, and when I need to take time off."
He adds that he is more selective now when taking on interviews and gigs, as he does not want to take on too much and burn out.
NaakMusiq admits that his life is not balanced at all, when it comes to work. "I work a lot and I have to make sure that my schedule is perfect. I look for opportunities where I can gig locally [in Johannesburg] so that I can also see my family," he says.
"Usually when I gig on a Friday then I'm back home at 4:00 on Saturday, I sacrafice some sleep so I can make breakfast with my mom and gran at 08:00. Then later I head over to my friends for a braai maybe, get home and sleep for another two hours and repeat," he says.
THE FUTURE SOUND
Both artists are very passionate about the gqom movement, with Tira calling it a "powerful moment."
NaakMusiq, who's never released a qgom song before - until Mamelani, says: "It's a Durban movment, and I decided to jump on the opportunity."
Talking about the future of gqom, Tira adds: "Music is always evolving. Not so long ago we were dancing to kwaito, but slow beats. Then the sound changed to a more upbeat kwaito. Gqom is one of the future sounds of SA and hopefully the world will experiece it soon too. Even hip hop rappers are tapping into the sounds. Just shows how powerful this moment is."
(NaakMusiq at the 2017 SAMAs)
"There is so much to learn in this industry. We're very good and talented as a nation, but there are other nations that are ahead of the game. And that's good, because we're always seeing better. That's what keeps me going. I can never feel like I've done it all," says NaakMusiq.
"I've collaborated with everyone I've always wanted to as a kid, locally. But yet I still feel the need to continue recording because when the opportunity comes from somewhere, I need to prepared," he adds. And gives David Guetta as an example, saying: "If DJ Guetta comes to South Africa and only has three hours to record, I need to be prepared. That's why we can create a song in such a short time."
When it comes to sucess in the industry, Tira gives these four tips: Love what you do, work well (and smart) with your money, be yourself, and keep informed.
"You need to love your craft, but also repect and care about your relationships, be smart with your money - save, invest and negotiate - don't be a copycat and research the industry," he says.
NaakMusiq and Tira are both currently working on the Afrotainment summer 2017 album. "There is a long list of upcoming talent and prodcuers that will be featured on the album," says NaakMusiq, "As well as a couple more singles to be released later this year."
For Tira it's all about the Afrotainment band. "Fact Durban Rocks, that's my baby," he says.
"There's a lot of sleepless nights coming our way," he ends off.
(NaakMusiQ and DJ Tira pose with the Carling Black Label Cup trophy during an interview about the upcoming Soweto derby clash on July 19, 2017)
And with that we arrived at the Cape Town International airport's car hire section, and we were flocked by fans asking for pictures with the musos.
Tira, called me an Uber, and just like that I was back on my way to the CBD. Just another day at the office! I think the driver was a bit dissapointed when I showed up. TBH.
Another shout-out to the guys for being such great sports and for making my day.