Nombongo Victoria Shenxane aka Nombongo DHLA innerview

5.10.18

Question is, when did you start your house music journey? Remember Circa 2009-2010? That tribal house craze? Lets zoom in a bit... Remember the late Rowick Deep? Ok... we getting somewhere. There is no way you know Dj Michael G or Julian Gomes and not know G-Family? Yes! Now enter vocalist Nombongo on the track "people with bullets"

Ladies and Gentlemen, lets take a short Left with Nombongo...



 DHLA: You have a unique name. What is the meaning?

 Nombongo: Umbongo is poem or song of praise so I guess you could also call me song of praise lol.

 DHLA: Share with us your up bringing?
   
Nombongo: Phew, I was (still am) privileged to be raised by both my parents and their respective villages. I have two brothers and had a few boy cousins so a lot of playing outside, sports etc. I had fun.
  
 DHLA: What was it about your upbringing that shaped you to be Nombongo the musician?

  Nombongo: Perhaps church, singing was the most fun part about church for me. Maybe that is where my voice developed; I never really think about it much lol.

 But, that is my earliest memory with song, it was always all around me so I didn’t think me particularly singing was an extra special thing.

  DHLA: You started writing in high school, what is it about that period that inspired you?

  Nombongo: You know growing up how most us would write out lyrics from RnB songs hahaha…

I am from that school of life,

so I think that continued even in High School but then I started making up my own lyrics and stories.

I also joined the choir so I had a sense of belonging vocally and a conceptual understanding of harmony, which made it easier to trust my own voice.
  
DHLA: How would you describe your voice to someone that had never heard it?
  
Nombongo: Hahahha I think it is chipmunk like hahahahhah but other people don’t!

I think I understand how it has progressed in texture as I mature, with reference to the work I have already done but it is now definitely a sum of my influences, be it Ella Fitzgerald, Thandiswa Mazwai, Jill Scott etc

DHLA: Tell us how you go through your voice warming sessions

Nombongo: I am terrible at this, unless I am in class hahahahha – I kid.

I think of my voice holistically with my body so I try to eat well, which some people might find odd but that is part of the process for a healthier voice,
  
I warm up probably on a daily coz I am always humming and singing to myself.

DHLA: Who discovered your voice and what was your first project

Nombongo: Flexboogie, I’d say!

I was new in Pretoria and I think I gravitated towards Flex
 because he knew the performance art scene, we became good friends quickly and he took me to events an introduced me to people.

No singing was involved initially until one event he was hosting when he gave me the mic coz he wanted me to help me soundcheck….

After all that my first project was his, then Ras, then things just escalated from there.


DHLA: Hip hop has always been your first intro and in a way your first love, l stand corrected. You then dabbled with house music, how did that came about?

Nombongo: I was terrified of house music hahahahha in a way I stil am…
Hip Hop became a necessity for me to overcome many issues I didn’t know I had. 
I was shy, believe it or not. I had never recorded in my life so studio was also a vulnerable space I had to navigate.
I was a mess when it came to performing live, but Hip Hop gave me that confidence.

For my boys to keep saying you can handle this beat or lets go do this show, their faith in my built me. House was a coincidence, I didn’t care for it as a genre, I didn’t club much unless I had a show so It was really 
Rowick Deep to interceded in that space.

DHLA: The purist in us, wishes that the house music journey could have had a longer life span. What is it about the genre that mad you switch off making music completely in 2010?

Nombongo: Besides a lot things changing in my personal life at that time, I am very fame reluctant, I didn’t see myself handling the kind of attention I could foresee house bringing my way (at that time).
DHLA: You have worked with the late Rowick Deep and G.FAMILY. That’s such a big deal. Which singles were these?
Nombongo: and I did a lot, he introduced me to the G Family and Sis n' Jones and Coffee… The singles I remember with Rowick are “I want you” “Potion” lol
 I am trying to remember these titles so hard… The G Family we did “People with Bullets” and I was busy conceptualising music for my second album with AJ Bukenya at the time he passed.

DHLA: There are rumours that Black Coffee remixed people with bullets, wasn’t that Manuel Tur?

Nombongo: Funny story how I found this out hahahha
So I am in my first year of Music school at UKZN in 2014, when Bongeka and I are walking through campus to make ourselves familiar.
We see a Red Bull Music activation stand and they are offering a cd give away for whoever wins a game of musical chairs. I decide to join in the fun and I win so I get my prize a Black Coffee compilation CD, 
as we walk away I turn it around to read the track list and lo and behold is my name. I was stunned HAHAHAHHA
I just wish someone had given me a heads up!


DHLA: When you dropped your album, you decided to go the independent route. That’s a bit challenging, take us through it.

Nombongo: The first contract I ever signed as an artist was with @OutrageousRecords and when they closed down I felt homeless. I didn’t know what to do with myself or the work I had created so I convinced myself to release it via my launch. 
Everything about being indie is tricky, especially if you are like me and not so savvy with selling things and knocking on doors. 
My first thought was launch it then try to sell the product to labels etc and we all know Jo’burg is a “who did you say you were again” jungle.
 I just didn’t have the capacity for all the begging people required of you, to me my work spoke for itself and that was that, lol boy was I young hahahah

DHLA: Your hiatus didn’t last too long for you to bounce back. What drove you?

Nombongo: Lol I still feel like I am in hiding… Look man I decided to go study music when I was 28, I dropped everything and left town so I never really hid, I just didn’t do what people wanted me to do. What I think it is, is that song won’t let me go without a fight.

DHLA: What are the life lessons that you attained between that transition

Nombongo: Shuu… I am still learning but I realise everyday how bravery of not cute. Getting up and fighting for what you envision in a world that teaches you to go against that grain is mind, spirit and body power. All of you has to be in agreement to shake people off.


DHLA: Your music career is similar to that of Zonke Dikana who completely switched over to Jazz.
Is it a Xhosa tribe thing? (laughs) Hows the Jazz frontier treating you?
Nombongo: You flatter me hey wow hahahahah Enkosi!
I don’t think it’s a tribal thing no.
Jazz has been courting me for a while and even when I thought I was ready for it, I wasn’t. I had other things to sort out first but I feel more confident now, ready for round two. But I am absolutely in love with this genre and the way it uses us to keep reinterpreting it over the decades.
DHLA: When one gets the privilege of chatting with you, you get the feeling, that, you have done it all. Like there isn’t anything music can throw at you that cannot master. Is that so?

Nombongo: Lol not all not yet! But I am no longer bound by my insecurities like I used to be so bring it all!

DHLA: What’s your top 5 Rn’b and 3 all time hip hop tracks and why?

Nombongo: First of all this entire question is unrealistic hahahha
Yoh… RnB
a) @ReginaBelle – Lazy Afternoon
b) Anything by Donell Jones and @Jaheim , Boys II Men, Silk, Jodeci, Shai, Joe
c) New Edition – Can you stand the rain
d) Stevie Wonder – Overjoyed
e) Tevin Campbel – I’m ready
Hip hop
@Zubz _ Handiende
Jay Z feat Eminem – Renegade
Snoop Dogg – Doggystyle (the entire thing)

DHLA: Are there some of your past projects that we haven’t touched on

Nombongo: I did a compilation called “White Label” with Toxic Soul from Mamelodi. I worked with N’veigh, Blaklez, Zubz, Ras, @Trompie , Nyambo, Instro, Thir(13)teen, Reason

DHLA: What is in store for you?

Nombongo: I have one album album left in me and I am trying to get it out of me first.

DHLA: Who is part of your band?

Nombongo:
Portia Sithole (Drums)
Sbu Mkhonza (Bass)
Tebogo Kobedi (Keys)

DHLA: Whats your take on the current music scene

Nombongo: I don’t listen to radio or “mainstream” music platforms so I hardly know what is going on aside from what’s popular, which one can’t avoid. I am currently immersed in Jazz vocalists and pianists (Japanese Jazz Musicians are lit). But outside of that I get the sense that people are having fun and making music they want to make which is key!

DHLA: Please share your social media handles

Nombongo: I have none lol

DHLA: Message to your fans

Nombongo: To My Mom and Dad, I want to say I love you!!!!!!!!

Lol Ahh man this is weird for me because I don’t see people as fans but I think to anyone who has a dream reading this, know that you are all that you need, trust your intuition!

DHLA: How is Nombongo different from Nombongo Shenxane?

Nombongo: I am the same girl through and through, what you see on stage is just me well within my gift, which I am never without even in my personal space. I just manifest differently.

DHLA: Lastly what’s your fight with social media presence? why the twitter name ognobmon?

Nombongo: Lol I have no fight, I am taking a break from social media so far it’s been good. Perhaps once I am done with the album I will surface.
  
#NombongoDHLAinnerview #DHLAinnerview #DHLA



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