Interview: Langa Mavuso On His Debut EP Release and More
22 year old singer, songwriter Langa Mavuso releases his debut EP Liminal Sketches this spring. The work is a cathartic expression that was written from a place of mourning and moving into the revival of hope characterized in the lead single Libalele (pray), a true lesson on impermanence. Liminal Sketches is the transitional scribbling’s of Langa’s current state of mind.
The work was brought together with the contribution of seasoned artist and producer Spoek Mathambo, N.J.O Illa N, SSJR and Darren B. The EP was written over four years ago and was finally pieced together in the past 8 months. The body of work promises to take you on an emotional journey from feelings of joy, sadness and even renewal. This project is a carefully crafted tribute to lost love and ends with restitution of hope that a new one can come about; whether with self or a significant other. Langa hopes to share the stories and feelings that he went through many years ago that have shaped his current state of being. Langa is also joined by Bongeziwe Mabandla on the bonus song called heart strings.
How do you maintain a unique sound in a music space where artists are highly influenced by each other?
I think the influence from the sounds I consume allows for the uniqueness in my own music. We all receive music differently; we relate to the themes, sounds and lyrics in a similar but unique way because our experiences and relationships with those words and sounds aren't always exactly the same. I also think the music is unique because even with the influence it is an expression of my own experiences, a story that only I can tell from my perspective because I lived, received and interpreted it in my own way.
| "What comes out of my mouth is simply a sonic painting of what's felt in my spirit and soul" |
Would you say that your age influences the audience's perception of you as an artist?
No, I don't think my age is ever really clear to many people even outside of music. I often find that people think I'm older than I actually am but sometimes the baby face gives away my age. I'm a 22 year old but my music palette has surpassed my age. I've been exposed to different types of music genres and periods from my music education; classical theory and history taught me about the richness and complexity that exists within music, I enjoy the textures found in the style but I hardly remember the methods of composition when I make my own music. Jazz has taught me the importance of personal expression but has also shown me that in that expression an understanding of the structure of music helps you break the rules in a sonically beautiful way. The only thing that might give my age away in the music would possibly be the electronic influence from my producers ILLA N and Spoek Mathambo and the musicians I listen to, NAO, James Blake, Blood Orange, Frank Ocean, who are clear influence in my music might lead the listener to realise that I am a part of the millennial (hate that word BTW) generation. I think the feeling found in my music is what makes the biggest impression on the audience more than anything else. I find that many adults love my Soundcloud because of the adult contemporary sound on it but the new music is more modern and it will probably resonate more with a youthful audience, so there's a bit of ambiguity of age with me because I don't really sing in one way or style. I do what feels honest and true for that moment whether its a Charlie Parker piece or an original electro influenced dance song. What comes out of my mouth is simply a sonic painting of what's felt in my spirit and soul.
How do you prevent your educational background in music from hindering your creative authenticity?
I really wasn't the best technical music student so my writing really comes from my own expression. I really excelled in the performance aspect of my education and the history learning part of it. Ask me to give you a performance or write an essay and we're great but the theory and analysis part felt like mathematics all over again (a big blur that needs hours of study and practice). My educational influence really only comes in through the sound choices made but the music is an honest expression from a very quiet dusty part of my soul that yearns to be heard.
| "When we make music we allow ourselves to become vessels of messages that are bigger than ourselves" |
What differentiates you artistically from an artist who doesn't have an educational background in music?
Everyday people don't listen to music with an analysing ear, they search for a feeling that is relative to their own life experience. They want to hear something that will evoke some sort of emotion from them. They want a happy sound so they can dance or the 'feels' so they feel blues but also find healing in it. The only thing that the education has taught me is how to articulate my ideas better and helped me have a better ear when recording. This is probably 10% of the process in making music, the studio I believe is an institution of it's own that I learn from every time I go back. Interaction with your band and producers is part of that process in making your art. We learn from people; their manner of communication, stories and taste also influences the music. You don't need to be at music school to learn those things. The thing that makes me different to any other artist is my my story. The way that I share it is what makes me unique. The melodies that are shared to me by God are what makes it special. When we make music we allow ourselves to become vessels of messages that are bigger than ourselves. The messages are never the same because even though we live a life on the same earth with t a somewhat similar experience, our journeys are innately unique.
What can your listeners anticipate from the EP that hasn't been heard in the music scene?
Liminal Sketches is cathartic work that was written from a place of mourning and moving into the revival of hope. It's a lesson on impermanence. The transitional scribbling’s of my current state of being. What makes it a fresh sound is my unique voice, the sound choices made by myself and the producers; it's a mixture of different genres. there's an electronic sound, soulful singing, African drum beats and unique writing style.The music promises to make you dance and sway at some points and at other points may even make you shed a tear or two; there's also a special bonus track with Bongeziwe Mabandla which simply feels like home to me. The collaboration and input of different people is what makes it unique. A fusion of all our influences, ideas and perceptions is what makes it special.
Here's an exclusive listen to Langa's first single Libalele (Pray), the single will be officially released on all platforms tomorrow, 30 September.
Photography: Anthony Bila
Interview: Sesona Mahlahla