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Mushonga - Breaking new ground to create new sound
July 17, 2009
with Rina Mushonga
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with the accent for a Zimbabwean Girl?
Dutch and half Zimbabwean; my father is Mushonga and my mother is
Dutch. I grew up all over the place in Europe and here as well.
I think I have an accent that moves and flows with where I am.
long have you been back home?
I have been
here since December 2008.
did you get to play the guitar?
From a very
young age my mum took my sister and myself to piano lessons when
we were 9 or 10. That was great and as soon as I got the basic skills
I was writing my own stuff. When I picked up the guitar my song-writing
element developed and I took it to another level - defiantly - from
my early teens.
kind of grooming did you get?
I was lucky
I went to a school that provided free music lessons. You could pick
any instrument you liked. After school, maybe once or twice a week,
you could go for music lessons. So I grabbed the guitar and picked
the cords and I was lucky in that I had a good teacher who encouraged
me to listen to the radio and play the songs I liked.
age did you start performing?
I think I was
17. At the Book Café every Thursday they had an open mic
night. I just went along one time and every Thursday I kept going
back. I would bring some of my other friends who also played. Then
we were a bunch of kids who went to the Book Café every Thursday
night to play and jam with each other. That's when I met Chiwoniso
and it was a great way to enter into the music industry.
you encourage people to enter the music industry?
if you've got music in you. I think you know for yourself
that as an artist you can't help but make music. There is
no one who can tell you other wise. I don't want to be like
an idealist and say just go for your dream because I think going
for your dream also means a lot of hard work. And for young people
who are interested in pursuing music they need to be real about
what that entails. It's like any other job and job is work
- it's about putting in the graft.
a person have certain qualities to be in the music industry?
I think to define
a musician or an artist is kind of dangerous territory because everybody
works in an individual way. And every person has a different view
of what defines art. It takes more than talent; talent is the obvious
thing if you want to call yourself a musician. Lets hope you've
got talent and you have an ear for music.
are the must haves as a musician or guitarist?
One of them
would be to have a good understanding of your craft. You need to
know music and understand basic concepts of music. And I think taking
your music seriously. You have to stay connected, stay updated -
you need to know who people are listening to and have knowledge
of what is happening in the music industry.
is your music genre?
I am experimenting
with a more African or traditional sound and that is part of the
reason why I came back to explore that type of music and my cultural
heritage. I am a rock chick; I have to say it's not about
hip pop or rnb or any of that. I am really into rock n roll and
blues and jazz - that's what gets me excited and inspires
me. The music that I write falls within that genre of folk pop rock
kind of music. And I am working with the band Zimfellas, trying
to fuse what they are amazing at, the traditional sound using marimba
and mbira and fusing their sound with my folk rock sound.
lyrical content is in your songs?
With the Zimfellas
we are writing a lot of love songs. But when we got together we
felt we want to put a positive message out; a message of encouragement
to Zimbabweans especially about getting up, waking up and making
your dreams happen. Make what you want to happen in your life, happen.
Don't rely on other people to do it for you - the future is
in your hands.
your stage performance
Our stage performance
is an explosion of afro pop folk rock. We are a colorful group of
people who are trying to explore the boundaries of afro fusion and
afro pop creating a new sound. We are very energetic and we like
to dance a lot and giggle on stage a lot and we interact with the
crowd and give a well-rounded experience - not just a show but also
you toured with the band outside Zimbabwe?
No, we haven't
been together for long. We got together in February. Hifa came up
and we had a massive break in that they believed in the sound we
were making. We also performed at the Manica Festival, which is
festival that is growing in Mutare.
measures have you made to make sure that you and your band stay
been together for very long but I think it's something that
you have to work on and redefine and confirm on a daily basis. It's
like any relationship; it takes a lot of work and analysis and arguments
as well. I think our starting point was that we were doing it for
the music. I know it sounds clichéd but it has to be about
the music first. Follow your passion and then hopefully the money
will follow you. If any musician in Zimbabwe was following money,
I don't think there would be many active musicians. What holds
us together is our passion for music and we have common love and
a passion to make music and break new ground to create a new sound.
say that you're impatient but you haven't recorded an
album - what gives?
I have a lot
of recordings like demos and that kind of stuff - it's not
like I have no recorded material. I guess with regard to doing something
professionally it takes time, and I am also a perfectionist. I think
if I am going to make an album I want it to be for real and something
that encompasses all of my dreams and expectations and really expresses
and represents me well. I don't really want to settle for
anything less than that. Also recording an album costs a lot of
money even if you do it in not the best studio. I think as an artist
you try to make your way ahead and sometimes opportunities come
to you quickly and sometimes it takes a long time before you get
to this place where somebody says, hey come to the studio and I'm
going to give you time to do that. Unfortunately for me it has taken
perfectionist what are the things that can bring your music down?
I have done
recordings in a big space and there was a lot of interfering noise
and it was difficult to manage the sound we were putting out as
band. And also live recordings - there are live recordings that
I have listened to and wish I had not recorded - a lot of it has
to do with the equipment you use.
are people responding to your music?
been so encouraged by the response ever since we had our debut performance
at HIFA. The response to our music is phenomenal and heart warming.
It's really nice to know and see that the crowd that comes
to our shows is really so diverse and different.
think an artist must engage managers and producers?
I think for
me over the last 10 years if I had had a manager things would have
been easier for me. It's really helpful to have someone in
your corner who can do the administration for you. As an artist
you must have time to create.
had the chance what would you change in regard to the arts in Zimbabwe?
tough one; we are talking about Zimbabwe as a third world country.
Usually in third world countries not a lot of money and time is
spent on cultural development and that's really a shame these
things get left on the way side when people are focusing on providing
better health care and education. I have to say that arts and culture
are necessary and as important to people's lives and to development
as any form of development and the music industry in Zimbabwe reflects
Its growth has
been stunted; we have been in a cultural recession for a long time
as well. There are a lot of amazing artists out there but unfortunately
if they don't have platforms and an environment they can learn
to perform professionally in, things will remain at a mediocre level
that does not do justice for artists.
That said, festivals
like HIFA do a lot to promote the arts in Zimbabwe, and raise the
standards of professionalism.
has the industry been for you as a woman?
I think its
hard being a woman in the industry. I don't feel personally
I have got any favors because I am a woman. On the other hand I
don't think that I have missed out on an opportunity because
I am a woman. But I think that is my individual experience. I know
for women in this country it's much harder than it is for
a man to get ahead - we are talking about the conditions in which
we perform. Having changing rooms for example; the things we need
as artists to be able to put on a show. I think sometimes things
are asked of women that wouldn't be asked of a man.
is your album coming out?
I would say
toward the end of year.
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