Nicole Davy, known as Boskasie is a singer/songwriter hailing from Cape Town, raised in the Netherlands and currently based in Johannesburg. Her latest EP, "We Are Gold", is an expression of a myriad of sounds, including authentic South African genres Ghoema and Yaadt. The EP explores topics such as coloured identity, womanhood and South Africa's history and current reality, whilst exploring these complex issues, the resounding message is one of empowerment. Sometimes you have to go through fire in order to come forth as gold.
Tell us about the journey of creating " We Are Gold"
This project was created in the heart of lockdown, from scratch. There was no initial intention to create We Are Gold, in fact I already had an EP that was ready and waiting to be released. But I believe I was led to making this, by God. He knew my heart. And knows I’ve always wanted to do something like this. He also introduced a dear friend, Pasja Schneider, into my path, who is the producer of WAG and my musical director, and together we created this body of work that took us on a journey of research and discovery into history, with these beautiful genres, Ghoema and Yaadt.
Your musical influences include Cape jazz, Yaadt and Ghoema, what drew you to these genres?
I was drawn to these genres because it was what I grew up with, hearing these beautiful sounds around me instantly made me fall in love with these genres. The sweet, smooth, joyous sounds always brought a sense of nostalgia and a strong sense of emotion, that beautiful feeling you get when you listen to good music. I’m still drawn to that feeling of nostalgia today. If a song or beat, manages to give me internal and external goosebumps, I know it’s great music.
You express your coloured identity in your music, subtly and in obvious ways, what has made you feel centred in your identity, despite the complex cultural heritage of coloured people in South Africa?
It has taken me many many years to feel somewhat centered in my identity. I guess living over seas, helped me put a lot into perspective once I moved back home. It invoked a deep sense of pride for my diverse heritage, one of them being Khoi lineage. This in turn allowed me to express that pride in my music, and my stage name, Boskasie. However, being coloured is indeed very complex as it was a term enforced on us to group us together, despite our diverse heritages. So it’s something I will continue to unpack with my community and my people, as not everyone’s experience or story of being “coloured” is the same. I use my music, to try and explain my story, with the hope that someone will relate to it.
"We Are Gold", the title track, dedicated to mothers, touches on South Africa's history of apartheid and current reality of gender-based-violence, but your message is profoundly positive reinforcing that our mothers are gold and we are gold - how did you arrive at such positive messages for such grim realities?
Despite our grim reality, I’ve always been drawn to leading with a positive message. By no means, taking away from the reality of the situation but rather reinforcing a motto for us as women and men to lead with. We’ve been through so much as a people, sometimes I just feel like we need to be reminded that we are Gold. We are innovators, change makers, inventors, and rich with history and culture. There is no way that that can’t be seen as Gold.
You are very vocal about social justice issues particularly in terms of the coloured community. And Ghoemyaadta touches slightly on that, what is the core message you are communicating in the song?
Absolutely. Here I reflect and speak a bit about the past struggle my parents were involved in, and the current struggle we find ourselves in which we have to stay strong for, a line in the song explains that as “we fight for freedom, stay fighting, when we believe in ourselves” . In the line where I say “this world was built by me, but made for you” is referring to the reality that this world was built by the oppressed, but the oppressors are the ones who benefit from it. I end the song with a voice recording by Erykah Badu, where she says “there’s a lot of devastation in the world...but also a lot of rebirth” , once again, ending with a positive word, something we can move forward with.
You spent a couple of years of your childhood in the Netherlands, how did growing up in a different country and continent impact you as a musician and on a personal level?
It definitely opened my eyes and my mind to a renewed world view. One where respect for cultures and people were at the forefront. I use a lot of this in my song writing. Similarly it opened my musical mind to more genres such as rock, indie, punk, dubstep and drum & bass to name a few, which really showed me there is no limitation to the sounds of music out there. Ultimately living abroad, helped me understand myself and my place in this big, big world.
You've done a variety of collaborations, how did you inspire major artists such as Cassper Nyovest and Youngsta CPT to trust in your artistic vision?
I guess In both cases, the music spoke for itself, I don’t want to have to convince anyone to collaborate with me. They must feel the music and the vibe. And with these collaborations, it’s the music that drew them in. And that’s all I needed.
Photography Assistant: Waseem Nordien