Nokuphiwa M Mbatha aka Lizwi DHLA innerview pres. Nyasha Themba Dhliwayo

15.2.19



Lizwi
The voice of the Tribal Queen
By Nyasha Themba Dhliwayo

When Black Coffee plays, tremors are felt in the earth's crust, star constellations vibrate with energy and lunar cycles shift.
            Er, not quite hey.
When the master spinner however includes in his sets or compilations, records by "underground" artists, this nod of approval has the power to influence careers in far reaching ways.
            Such was the case with Lizwi when Black Coffee featured, in one of his compilations, a Kususa and Quetonik remix of her song "Traveller".
            With powerful pipes reminiscent of the late Busi Mhlongo, the Durban based  singer-songwriter and performer has the talent and ability, to back up her good natured claims of being the "Tribal Queen".
            Lizwi chats with us about her emergence into the mainstream space, the creative processes that drive her as well as totally cool revelations about how she taught herself how to play the guitar.
            Oh by the way, Sun El also gets crushed on somewhere along the line!

DHLA: First things first, let's talk about the phenomena that is Kususa's remix of "Traveller". When did you realise that this song was becoming quite the big deal globally?
Lizwi: Oh I still remember this like it happened yesterday; when the “Mighty" himself Black Coffee played it in his radio mixes three times in one day. I remember calling the DeMajor K-Roots, the original producer of “Traveller” and saying to him, "Do you realize what we created?" My phone never stopped ringing throughout that day as lots of known and underground producers requested to remix this song.


DHLA: What do you think it is about this particular remix that has made it so popular?
In 2017 Black Coffee featured the song on his Ibiza appreciation mix and the following year @SamDevine released it on her compilation under the Defected Records label.
DHLA: As an artist who has emerged onto the mainstream fairly recently, there are quite a number of ears and hearts that have not experienced the Lizwi brand of magic. Which songs of yours would you prescribe for them to experience 100% undiluted Lizwi?

Lizwi: The song that really brought me to be where I am today is that Kususa and Quetonik remix of "Traveller".
"Ndiyoyika" however really surprised a lot of people and it is this song that is the true reflection of who Lizwi is.


DHLA: Why would you prescribe these particular songs?
Lizwi: Laughs… well “Traveller” really opened a lot of doors for me as an artist.
It introduced me to well-known DJ’s and Producers, both national and international.
“Ndiyoyika" however as I said before is the true reflection of the artist and genre that Lizwi the Brand is.
I am the "Tribal Queen" after all...Laughs
DHLA: How did the young lady known as Nokuphiwa Mbatha evolve to become the artist we now know as Lizwi.
Not just in terms of your performing name but in terms of what are the influences that saw you commit to fully identifying as an artist as opposed to someone who merely sings?
Lizwi: It funny how the name “Lizwi came about:.
One day my small community hosted a function and at that time I was into Poetry though I didn’t have a stage name.
People called me “Nokuphiwa" which sounded very "long" , so some old lady in the crowed shouted, “Yoh ilizwi lakho" (my voice).
After the show the lady came to me and said from now you will be known as "Lizwi".
I never looked back ever since.
DHLA: As an artist what does success mean to you; is it sold-out tours all over the world or maybe it's something more personal like the satisfaction of sharing your feelings with the world?
Lizwi: Well for me it’s more personal than anything else.
Whenever you're on stage and people are singing and connecting with you in the same spirit of the song when you wrote it and feeling the emotions of the song itself.
DHLA: What's your creative process like; I mean do you write and record regularly as a discipline or you only write and record when inspired?
Lizwi: For me I have to be inspired, I have to connect with the beat, I have to understand the vision that the producer had when creating the beat.
If you noticed my music talks about nature, ancestral life and my love for who I am as a being.
DHLA: Maybe due to your background in conservation [she is a trained Conservation professional] you have a love for nature and animals...
in what ways does this part of you influence your music?
Lizwi: I’m a very inquisitive person , I like to know what, when and why.
DHLA: You have mentioned that you would love to work with Sun-El Musician, @BlackCoffee, Heavyk Drumboss Siqula and even @BlackMotion. Why these particular producers...what is it about them that makes you want to work with them?
Lizwi: Oh my gosh!
Let's start with Mr Drum Boss himself( Heavyk Drumboss Siqula).
The drum elements he uses are life.
As we know, in our culture drumming brings you closer to your forefathers.
Lizwi: My Gosh the guy is cute laughs.
His production is out of this world.
You can’t categorize his genre.
Maaaaannn oh man I just love his uniqueness.
DHLA: Why would you prescribe these particular songs?

Lizwi: Laughs… well “Traveller” really opened a lot of doors for me as an artist.
It introduced me to well-known DJ’s and Producers, both national and international.

“Ndiyoyika" however as I said before is the true reflection of the artist and genre that Lizwi the Brand is. 
I am the "Tribal Queen" after all...Laughs

DHLA: How did the young lady known as Nokuphiwa Mbatha evolve to become the artist we now know as Lizwi.

Not just in terms of your performing name but in terms of what are the influences that saw you commit to fully identifying as an artist as opposed to someone who merely sings?

Lizwi: It funny how the name “Lizwi came about:.

One day my small community hosted a function and at that time I was into Poetry though I didn’t have a stage name.

People called me “Nokuphiwa" which sounded very "long" , so some old lady in the crowed shouted, “Yoh ilizwi lakho" (my voice).

After the show the lady came to me and said from now you will be known as "Lizwi". 
I never looked back ever since.

DHLA: As an artist what does success mean to you; is it sold-out tours all over the world or maybe it's something more personal like the satisfaction of sharing your feelings with the world?

Lizwi: Well for me it’s more personal than anything else.

Whenever you're on stage and people are singing and connecting with you in the same spirit of the song when you wrote it and feeling the emotions of the song itself.

DHLA: What's your creative process like; I mean do you write and record regularly as a discipline or you only write and record when inspired?

Lizwi: For me I have to be inspired, I have to connect with the beat, I have to understand the vision that the producer had when creating the beat.

If you noticed my music talks about nature, ancestral life and my love for who I am as a being.

DHLA: Maybe due to your background in conservation [she is a trained Conservation professional] you have a love for nature and animals...
in what ways does this part of you influence your music?

Lizwi: I’m a very inquisitive person , I like to know what, when and why.

DHLA: You have mentioned that you would love to work with Sun-El Musician, @BlackCoffee, Heavyk Drumboss Siqula and even @BlackMotion. Why these particular producers...what is it about them that makes you want to work with them?

Lizwi: Oh my gosh!

Let's start with Mr Drum Boss himself( Heavyk Drumboss Siqula).
The drum elements he uses are life.
As we know, in our culture drumming brings you closer to your forefathers.

DHLA: Sun-El Musician?

Lizwi: My Gosh the guy is cute laughs.
His production is out of this world. 
You can’t categorize his genre.


Maaaaannn oh man I just love his uniqueness.

DHLA: How about the "Mighty" Black Coffee?
Lizwi: Besides the fact that I love “coffee” this man unknowingly introduced me to the industry.
He is my role model.
He is the Visionary, he is the go getter of note.
He has taken Africa abroad.
My God I can not say anymore.
DHLA:...and @BlackMotion?
Lizwi: I love that duo!
DHLA: Major respect to you for teaching yourself how to play the guitar! That really takes
patience!
Lizwi: O my!
Thank you so much!
DHLA: How did you go about it? Did you watch YouTube tutorials, strum along until it
sounded right or maybe some other learning method?
Lizwi: My dad is a guitar player.
I can vividly remember, when I was four years old, him sitting in his favorite sofa at home, playing his favorite songs.
I liked the way he would strum his guitar,
he would even close his eyes and that's where I fell in love with the guitar.
I wanted to study more about this instrument so I bought books and started teaching myself.
DHLA: Since you were teacher and student, how did you measure progress and know if you
were getting it right?
Lizwi: In church you never get judged but supported and it is here where I had my first concert.
I can safely say it was not good, but people said it was.
Those comments brought out immense joy in my heart so I continued teaching and learning.
DHLA: You have mentioned the major influence the late icons Busi Mhlongo and Miriam Makeba have on your music. 

They were not only exceptional artists but women with very strong personalities.
I was fortunate enough to have experienced Mama Miriam's forceful personality and she could suck the air out of any room. You just could not ignore her...
How would you describe your personality, is it as imposing as your voice and these
two icons, or maybe something totally different?
Lizwi: I am a very strong minded person myself and these wonderful WOMEN were too.
May God Bless their souls.
Mama Busi Mhlongo, stood firm in what she believed in as a musician, she was a Pop Maskandi artist through and through and my God those chants she made when performing live, is where I picked up my ululation .
As for Mama Miriam Makeba, I admire the courage she had to fight segregation through her lyrics.
She moved across the world but never changed who she was.
DHLA: What's your take on women (and management teams) who use their physical appeal
to make an impact...I mean from a commercial point of view it's somewhat "easier
to promote an artist that the audience regards as "physically attractive" take for example Beyonce vs Ms...?
Lizwi: I have been lucky so far to have a team that understand me and my vision and the way I would like to present that brand to the public.
I however have no problem with people getting their hustle the way that they feel it works for them, and If you have it flaunt it.
DHLA: Would you ever take the route of using your looks to push your music to a wider
audience?
Lizwi: Honestly I don’t have it in me.
DHLA: A woman and her guitar do make quite the couple...at the moment is there any room
for a "third party" in terms of a partner?
Lizwi: Laughs Yes I do have someone in my life
DHLA: You seem quite comfortable in Durban...what would lure you to join the trek to the
City of Gold or possibly anywhere else?
Lizwi: I will move across nations for my craft, but for now Durban has been wonderful to me.
DHLA: What else do you enjoy doing away from the music? Can we go and watch a Sharks
game or something when we are next in Durbs!?
Lizwi: A lot of people will be shocked but I love Cricket.
So if ever you attend a cricket match in Durban and you hear some spine-tingling ululation, chances are the Tribal Queen will be in the house.
Otherwise all the best to Lizwi, as over the next few weeks she will bless the world with a gift we are keeping our fingers crossed we also get to share with you.

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