Back to Index
Greenland - feeling wonderful
September 21, 2009
This is an
Inzwa feature. Find out more
Inside/Out with Anjii Greenland
View audio file details
is it that young artists have, that you didn't have when you
were coming up?
The main thing that you guys have that we didn't
have is this wealth of knowledge and access to knowledge by way
of things like the internet. This has been a big thing for the industry
although you wouldn't see it immediately, but it has. When
we were growing up what we were exposed to was very much defined
by the radio djs. If the radio dj made a song popular that's
what the record company would import into the country. And when
I was growing up we were a country at war.
did you start singing?
It started at school, you get called to other schools for their
variety concerts and you gain a little bit of social fame within
the confines of your community. I just wanted to get up on stage
and sing music that I loved.
music genre did you sing back then?
I have performed in many different genres. I started with a contemporary
outfit and we were very much what you would call the gig band. We
were funky, cool and we were rocking. Then I went into a heavy rock
has your musical journey been?
The musical journey has been interesting. I came back home to Africa
and I joined a jazz band. Everybody had been telling me from when
I was young, oh you must do jazz, you must do jazz but as a genre
it never called me. I think I had to reach a certain emotional maturity
because I believe very much that every song is a story and it's
your job to tell the story. So if you can't relate then you
can't tell the story. I was with a band that comprised musicians
like Philbert Marova, Sam Mataure, Brian Paul and Richie Lopez -some
of Zimbabwe's top musicians. I have been lucky to work with
the some of our best musicians. I mean best in terms of their dedication
and love for art.
has the economy affected your career?
Due to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe I had to start working with
a machine. Although the machine is limiting in that it curbs spontaneous
creativity it's very liberating. Finally as singer you are
not just visually the frontline of the band but you are also are
in charge of everything. I learnt a lot about marketing, who I am
as a product and who do I appeal to and how do I market myself.
your favourite music?
I don't have a favourite music. I think it's impossible
as a musician to say that I only love gospel for example. Music
is music; you may not agree with lyrical content or you may not
like a certain bit but all music has got its place. I have been
lucky to perform and work in a variety of genres of music. I have
performed for five people at a private party and for 15,000 and
people and it's been wonderful. I teach in my workshops, that
as a musician, our job is to make sure that the people paying us
are going have a good time. We get up on stage to make sure people
are having a good time and we put our talent on the line. There
should be no difference in the quality of performance for an audience
of two, or 20,000.
you an established artist?
This is a very interesting question. I prefer the term professional.
I prefer it because for 25 years now I have made my living playing
music. In that sense I am professional because the thing that pays
my bills is music. Now, on the established artist question, it's
a funny thing. I came from South Africa on Monday and that bus got
me to the border 3 hours late. But just before that on Saturday
night I was on stage, the star attraction at a fancy hotel in South
Africa.48 hours later I was on the side of the road in Zimbabwe.
The trailer of the bus had flipped over and I was sitting on my
luggage with my thumb out. I was just another Zimbabwean trying
to catch a ride. I am an established artist yes, in the sense that
I have done my homework, I have pounded the pavement, and I have
paid my dues. I have established myself in terms of reliability,
level of execution, my commitment and my attitude.
do you know you are now established?
You know that you are established when you have done time on the
block, when you have built up a network of people, when you have
an understanding of how the business works and where you fit in
25 years in the industry is it worth it?
Everything worth anything in my life has come to me through music
so I would have to say yes. It hasn't brought me a Grammy
yet, it hasn't brought me international fame and acclaim but
my voice has paid for every plane ticket or bus ticket in and out
of this country. My voice has taken me to places like Copenhagen,
England, South Africa, Botswana. I have lived all over Zimbabwe
and I have paid for it with my voice. It's the ultimate passport
of good will. You can sit with strangers and sing them a song, people
who can't even speak your language. And you sing them a song
that they know and it creates a bond between you. And it's
the most wonderful feeling as an artist.
is it you don't have an album after 25 years?
When I was emerging I had a fundamental issue with the recording
contract I was initially offered and the three subsequent ones I
was offered. I didn't have a compelling drive to do my own
music. I was quite happy to sing good music and service the community
on that level. When I realised that the route to the Grammys, fame
and stardom was through a recording contract, I found that was basically
unfair. I am in the middle of a project but I don't want to
talk too much about it. There might just be a recording coming from
advice would you give to an upcoming artist?
My advice to anybody in any industry is visualize, focus and achieve.
You must have a picture of what you want your life to be and what
you are trying to achieve. You visualize that thing and it becomes
a priority and you put aside the stuff that is not conducive to
what you are trying to achieve. Nobody can understand your dream,
or drive, or your end gain like you can understand it. So if you
are working in a situation with no visualization of what you want
to achieve you are never going to get what you are looking for.
The other piece of advice I would give is never let anybody else
to set your retail value. You must know your value; you must know
who you are and you must work constantly to add value to your life
and to the lives of those around you. The second you give someone
the power to define you then you have lost half the battle.
a young age how did you survive in the music industry?
The only reason that I wasn't a casualty of the business is
because my first bandleader, Boykie Moore, was an exceptional man
and he had already been in the industry a good 15-16 years by then.
He knew full well the pit falls that awaited a young girl and he
had no intention at all of sacrificing his artists to the business.
I would have him on one side and his son on the other side and I
would get fast track information as the evening unfolded. I would
get it in my ear, don't talk to that guy, don't go there
they are doing drugs, don't drink that. And my father instilled
in me a sense of pride as a young woman so it was very difficult
for any predatory individuals to make head way because I was confident.
would you change in the industry given the chance?
The thing that I wanted to change and was committed to changing
from the very first recording contract I turned down was the violation
of the rights of artists. Many of those entry-level contracts are
a blatant violation of people's human and commercial rights.
Some of the biggest names in the industry have had serious battles
with their recording companies for this very reason. I would like
to see some legislation that protects the rights of female artists
in as far as things like maternity leave are concerned. I think
we need to go back to the basics. We have these young women in our
bands, we rely on them just like in any other business and they
get pregnant and they have kids and they don't have a job
to come back to because who wants a wife and a mother in their band?
to now? What's the future like?
The future is bright. A couple of years ago I had a life changing
experience and I decided after that, that I needed to do more travelling
and I needed to move out of my comfort zone and hit the pavement
again. So the next 24 months are going to see a lot of travel for
Anjii in sub Saharan Africa. And most definitely there is a recording
plan. Where from here? I am going forward!
Visit the Kubatana.net
Please credit www.kubatana.net if you make use of material from this website.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.