An in-depth look at SA Music industry with Zakes Bantwini

It is not often one acquires legendary status and keeps remerging like a phoenix, especially not in the South African entertainment industry. Zakes Bantwini needs no introduction and has proven worthy of his accolades and is indeed a notable figure in this particular sphere.

Bang Bang Bang is all you hear blazing in the streets nowadays. Everyone is excited that Zakes is back with yet another “bang” and another classic album. We got to chill with Bantwini to talk about his journey and his incredibly crafted new project “love, lights and music 2”.

First thing’s first since this is Kas’lam magazine, please tell us where are you originally from and how it was growing up in your kasi?

I was born and bred in Kwamashu. I grew up and attended school in Kwamashu until it came a time where I felt like I was ready to take over the world. I truly enjoyed growing up e-Kaslam.

Speaking of taking over the world, how does one know that I have something great to offer to this world and I can do it? I think I picked up the signs at a very young age. At the age of 11 years I was a dancer which is more along the lines of entertainment so yeah, I then flew for the first time in my life because of dancing.

I was also a good soccer player but maybe I wasn’t good enough because I remember this one time where my team had to fly to Johannesburg for the Chappies league and I was the only player left behind. I got tired of leaving my faith on someone else to decide whether I was good enough or not, so that’s when I decided I’ll stick with dancing because as a dancer if you were in dance rehearsals for the whole week you’ll definitely be in the show on the weekend. A year later after quitting soccer I got to fly for the very first time for a dance competition in Johannesburg and by the age of 18 I was doing an international dance tour, I did Ballet and contemporary dancing and I think we travelled like 18 countries for 6 months. For some reason, I’ve always had indications that your talent could take you far. However, I eventually got bored of dance because in the world of dance you might be doing a show with the biggest Choreographer in the world but nobody knows about it and no media is covering that, so I always wanted the be in a world where everybody knows what I’m doing and how great I am, and music was the next thing.

I always wanted a beautiful life and I would usually visualise it vividly through R. Kelly’s music video for ‘You remind me of my Jeep’ and I was like; I want this life and I want to drive this car, when the money eventually came I did buy a Jeep. So yeah, that’s basically how I picked up on my potential. I think dance was an indicator of how great I could be and then I thought to myself if I’m great at this I could be great in music as well, so I perused music and it worked out well.

You’ve done so much with your musical career for such a long time, doesn’t it all get repetitive and routine? That’s a very good thing to talk about. It does when you do not have a plan, it doesn’t when you actually have a plan. The world is big man, and the biggest problem in South Africa is that we’re busy dominating each other. I mean in a year you get to see the very same Artists performing all over South Africa again and again in the same routine and at the same space so you’ll definitely get bored, you as the Artist you’ll get bored first and the audience is definitely going to get bored as well. That’s why overseas you put out an album then you have a tour for that album touring different states and di9fferent countries, so everybody that sees you is seeing that particular performance for the very first time. As South African Artists, we haven’t been able to do that and I think we have to blame these huge establishments like Universal and Sony music because they have been machines in making sure that we know of a Beyoncé or a Chris Brown but they have never made use of that very same machine to make sure that we’re also known in other territories. It’s like they are willing to tell us about the world but they are not willing to tell the world about us, and that has made us South African Artists to revolve rather than evolve in the music industry and has resulted in all our future plan to circulate only within the South African media. What happens is that if you didn’t make it on a South African publication like Kas’lam magazine or you don’t get played at a certain radio station then you don’t have a career, forgetting that there are magazines and radio stations in Kenya, Nigeria and the whole of Africa as well as the rest of the world. So, the fact that South African media hasn’t approved you or given a chance it doesn’t mean the rest of the world won’t as well. Go to other territories and people may see your value there. I think that’s what’s happening in South Africa, a person will put out music and only wait for the reception in South Africa before then can decide they have a career. before Lucky Dube died (May his soul RIP) he was no longer playing in SA radio but was still selling out stadiums within Africa, at the same time you have a Trey Songz who struggles to fill a night club of 5000 people in New York but here in SA he sells out a stadium. So, it tells you that as an Artist you need to explore other territories.Your current project is the ‘Love, Lights and Music 2’ album which dropped earlier this year. Why make a sequel to such a classic album? *lol* because it’s also going to be the greatest album to come out this year, I think ‘Love, lights and music 2’ is better than the first ‘Love, Lights and Music’. For me ‘Love, lights and music’ is like a signature pattern for a clothing line, what makes Zakes Bantwini great is the ‘Love, lights and music’ series. So, when Zakes moves from one place to another the bridge that takes him from there to there is the Love, lights and music album. If you were in love with ‘Love, lights and music’ you’re surely going to fall in love with ‘Love, lights and music 2’. The ‘Love, lights and music’ series is now becoming albums where I decide to talk about love, where I decide to use my musicality at its best, to use Afro beats influence, to use heavy horns and where I decide to make a song that will make you dance on the dance floor but you’ll also listen to it on the radio and while you’re driving. All of those combined are the ingredients of ‘Love, lights and music’.

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