This past Friday we were saddened by the news that House vocalist Nichume Siwundla, who was well known for her 2017 breakout hit Bhutiza with Mobi Dixon, has died. In a statement released by her record label Top Chap Media on Friday morning it was confirmed that the King William’s Town beauty was found at a friend’s place last night following an apparent suicide. There has been other reports which state that she jumped off the building.
Mobi Dixon who has been a mentor to Siwundla said he was devastated at her passing.
“I’m distraught. I will remember Nichume as a bright light at Top Chap Media where we signed her. She was not only my first artist, but we had grown so close in the past three years that she became my little sister. She truly is gone too soon. May her soul rest in peace,” Mobi Dixon paid tribute to her.
Just a few weeks back, we had the pleasure of sitting with the late singer herself and she was excited to share her plans of working on an album to be released later this year and she also addressed suffering from depression and her desire to help others fighting the same battle.
THIS IS HOW THE INTERVIEW WENT LIKE
People might not know this but you actually have an interesting story regarding your name
Okay, well my name is Nichume it is a Xhosa name meaning growth, prosperity, increase. It’s part of a sentence that comes from a bible verse, I think its from the book of Jeremiah *chuckles* I’m not entirely sure however, my brother’s name is Qhamani nande so the full senstense is “Qhamani nande nichume” and then my following siblings were added on as part of the sentence, so the full sentence is “Qhamani nande nichume nisikelelwe nina iyana iNkosi”
Now getting to your musical journey, how did it start?
I usually say when I was in church, but I think that’s just when I found my voice. The journey itself started when I got in a band with some of my High-School friends, so it was the 3 of us and the name of the band was Nakhuni which was also a compilation of our names Nambitha, Qhawe, Nichume and the compilation of our names was Nakuni which in Xhosa means “to you”. That’s basically when I started singing but I would later find my voice when I joined the church choir that was when I was 17, that’s when I actually realised my voice was stronger than I actually thought it was.
You were in a band, joined the church choir and found your voice. When did you break into the industry?
I broke into the industry 2013 with my very first song titled ‘far away’, It was a song I did with Mobi Dixon as well as DJ Anda from East London. I loved that song very much because it showed, me that I can actually do this, but the big break actually came with ‘Bhutiza” in 2017 but the I’d say that the very first time I set foot in the industry was with ‘far away’ in 2013.
You work a lot with Mobi, fill us in on your relationship with him
I met him in East London and he’s actually not my biological brother as a lot of people think. My friend DJ Anda introduced me to him when we were working on the song ‘far away’ and he then fast became my Mentor. He groomed me and taught me a lot about the industry and just allowed me to just become more comfortable with myself as a musician. He’s really a big brother to me and I owe most of the steps that I’ve taken going forward with my career to him.
You’ve come a long way since breaking in the industry and only now you’re about to release your debut album, tell us more about it.
Well I’ve just recently released my debut single ‘Thobela’ which is doing pretty well and it features Mobi Dixon as well as T-Love. There’s a lot of stuff that I’m still working on and I’m pretty excited to be entering this phase of my journey, I’m in studio every day because there’s always something new and exciting that I’m thinking of that prompts me to get back in studio and keep recording.
What’s more exciting is that a lot of the people I worked with have diverse sounds, so there’s a lot of variety to me and what I’m bringing.
With the music industry changing especially along with the digital age, there’s a lot of debate on whether an album still works or musicians should just push singles on singles, which route are you planning on taking?
That’s what we haven’t decided yet, for me it’s always been a dream of mine to have an album and that’s what I’m battling with. The question is should I stick with my dream and it might not succeed because people don’t actually buy albums anymore or should I just release an EP where people can just get that online. Whichever way you do it though, at the end of the day the music will always be there but I’m currently in battles with myself and we still haven’t decided on it yet.
Besides the album, what else are you working on for the year?
I’m actually working on my YouTube page, a lot of my fans and supporters always ask “when are you going to show us how you sing? we’ve never heard you sing live”. So, for people who haven’t actually heard me perform live there’s still questions of “does she really have a singing voice? Is it autotune?” So, I want to start working on that and be a bit more interactive with my fans and maybe it might even build my fanbase a little bit more. I do like going on a lot of YouTube pages and I do see that you can be more authentic by just being you, so YouTube is what I’ll be working on more. I also want to work more on myself, part of being in this industry is just working on yourself as an individual, whether its about your body or spirituality, that is also something I would like to show on my YouTube page my day to day life.
I suffered with depression last year so I’d like to be more open about it as well, there’s a few people who’ve approached me about working on drives for other Artists, youngsters and people who want to get into this industry on how to battle things like that and I would be working on a lot of groundwork with people who would need that type of assistance.
How did you manage to conquer depression or at least manage it?
I don’t even think that it’s something you can even conquer, you just have to learn your triggers and you figure out how to conquer those rather. For me it had to do with a lot of prayer and speaking about the things that made me angry but I also needed to make sure I take responsibility for the things that made me feel the way that I was feeling as well as confront and speak to the people I felt were letting me down. I did also dabble in on a little of medication which I felt made me worse, but there are some people that depression medication works for and there’s some that it doesn’t and you just become very mellow and still like a brick or you just lose parts of yourself and for me I lost quite a bit of myself and it affected me with my music. I had a lot of writer’s block and I didn’t feel like being around people and then I’d have to go on stage and put on a bright face so for me that’s why I had to stop the medication.
It’s an on going thing so you constantly have to deal with it and more importantly you have to know your triggers. Luckily, I had a very strong support system. I have both my Mom and dad, I have my siblings as well as my partner, my friends, Mobi and the team. I’m blessed enough because some people go through that sort of thing alone and because I’m such a big bubbly person people automatically saw when something was wrong, so I was able to speak about it before it even got to the worst stages of it.
So for someone who’s going through something similar, what sort of advice would you give to them?
Firstly its important to cry, to be angry, to scream into a pillow and do whatever you need to do to express yourself because you let go that way, but then you need to pick yourself up and remind yourself who you were before all of that happened. There are a lot of places that you can go to and a lot of helplines all over the country but one very important thing you need to do is have at least that one person you speak to even if it’s just writing in your diary, praying or meditating but you need to voice it out to someone. A lot of times they will say look into the mirror and say these affirmations but unfortunately that’s not enough because if you’re that deep in your depression you won’t believe it… So, you need that one person who’ll be able to acknowledge you and be able to offer some sort of help.
Going forward, what message would you like to send out to your fans and supporters?
What I always like to say is we all have a chance, the first step is just having a dream and believe in your dream. Even though we don’t have everything handed to us on a silver platter but just to have that dream is enough to get you going.
As the Kas’lam team we’d like to send our condolences and regards to Nichume’s family, friends and team. We hope her memory and legacy is honoured through her music and we hope we’ll still get to hear all of the unreleased music she was working on especially the album she was scheduled to release later this year. When we spoke to her she seemed so excited to be working on her new project and looked ready to conquer the music industry.
Her brother [Qamani] said the family has been left with a lot of questions about the circumstances of her death.
“We, as a family are in absolute shock as to what has happened. Learning that your sister has succumbed to emotions and taken her own life can never rest well. We obviously are left with a lot of questions but also know that she had one of the strongest characters in the family and whatever she was feeling at that moment triggered immense hopelessness. We stand united as a family regardless. Nichume was so loved and appreciated. We’re proud of all her achievements, said Qamani Siwundla.