Heres my interview with singer, tendai mwanaka
How did you get started in music?
Professionally it was in 2014 when I shortchanged my sister of her Mbira instrument and started learning how to play it. But I have always been interested in music from when I was little. I remember I made the school choir in grade 2, and I have been in several choirs including church choirs, where I would lead the choirs too.
What are your inspirations or influences?
African music, songs we grew up singing, songs I sang at the church, songs from my Shona culture, and western music in the form of RNB, pop, Rock and opera classics. I am inspired by the beauty and uniqueness of music and sound. Yes I love good lyrics but I think what really inspires me about music is the music, it’s inside stories, conventions, music variety, experimentation etc… I am a multidisciplinary artist, with literary, Visual and musical strands of my career all off the base. So I am always interested in finding links between these fields, and in music I have done that by combining the literary aspects in the form of the poetic genre with music… because of my African experience there is a certain formless and transcendence that my music has, and the western music sometimes corals it through its insistence on stracture and form. In my Lockdown journal, day 10: I wrote, “literature makes me burrow inside the suffocating walls until I find a small ledge in the walls where I can hide and avoid being crushed by the walls. Visual art left me for 3 weeks now, may hands have no eyes to see, it’s of no use now because visual art would crush the walls to debris, to reconstruct them. So I am left with musical art to maintain space around me and push the walls without breaking them. We are supposed to stay indoors! I need the walls to keep me focused, to commute with this imprisonment.” Thus music, like in those images of the Italians standing on their balconies in Rome and belting songs and sorrow, trying to deal with mounting deaths of covid 19, music helps me deal with life threatening situation. So music is my last stand, the thing that holds everything together.
What advice will you give aspiring performers?
Be open to the sounds, experiment, be patient, work harder and keep trying even if it doesn’t make sense now
How do you set yourself apart from other bands or singers?
As I noted I am interested in the music more than the lyrics and I work from my culture and mix it with western influences, thus my sounds are always unique. I use Mbira and Marimba to compose the melodies of songs such that the African melodies cannot be overshadowed by the western elements I would add through the keyboards, there is asymmetrical laying between the two influences to create a poetic sound. So my music could be interpreted as literature music
Any new gigs or albums in the future
Yes I recently released my first album of music and poetry. The music is Marimba inspired, with all sorts of keyboard including among others, Cello, Violin, Horns, Flute, Harp, Bells, sticks etc. it’s a 9 track album entitled Logbook Written by a Drifter, find the songs here: https://soundcloud.com/tendai-rinos-mwanaka