Off the back of their new music video, I spoke with the kids of Kwini Kuza – Lasandra Majola, Saiyan Naidoo, Sabian Singh, Neo Mooi, Entle Mdletshe and Sipokazi Gebashe. They’re pretty dope teens and have toured Natal extensively.
Richard Chemaly (RC): As child prodigies, you would have noticed how much value people place on your youth in relation to your talent. Do you think we venerate the youth too easily now at the expense of respect for the elderly? Which old people do you have serious respect for?
Saiyan: People often underestimate the youth but we have a lot to offer. Creatively the youth are fresh and we have really good ideas. In terms of respect I respect my parents and especially my grandfather as he was the person who taught me how to play guitar.
RC:Of course you do covers and your own material and I must mention your Mandoza tribute which was incredible. Is Mandoza a source of inspiration for you? Are there any other artists you particularly look up to?
Sipokazi: Yes we love Mandoza, he is a South African music legend and we love playing our version of ‘Nkalakatha’, the audiences seem to really like it when we play it live! I look up to Rihanna and locally Nathi. Between the band we like all types of artists like Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Migos and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
RC: To be performing and have two music videos out before you even begin selecting school subjects is a pretty big deal! How are you treated at school and by your peers? More importantly, are you families happy with you pursuing this career?
Lasandra: Our school friends are always supportive and enjoy what we do. The girls at my school are very encouraging! Our parents are very encouraging and support us in everything we do, not just music. My mother is also a singer so she understands the music industry and helps me.
RC: You’ve played almost every stage in Natal so which has been the best experience and where what stage would you like to perform on yet?
Sabian: Durban Jazz Festival was great, there were around 15 000 people and it was a big stage. That was very exciting! We also enjoyed the White Mountain Festival in the Drakensberg and Shisa Nyama Festival at Moses Mabhida Stadium last year. We would still like to play at Splashy Fen as well as Cape Town Jazz Festival and the Essence Festival here in Durban.
RC: Since you’re a pretty big group, when you go and perform, who chooses where to go to eat and have the politics of the stomach ever caused an argument?
Entle: Lasandra and Neo often suggest where to eat and we usually end up at McDonalds, in fact we are reading these questions right now at a McDonalds while we are eating chicken nuggets! We all like food so we never fight over where to eat.
RC: How do you make your music? Do you start with a beat, melody or lyrics?
Neo: We start with the beat, in South Africa that is the most important because people like to dance to a good beat and tempo. The melody usually comes next with the lyrics. The vibe of the song helps determine what the song should be about.
RC: While most kids play sports after school, you seem to play music…or do some of you play any sports or do any other after school activities?
Saiyan: We all play sport – soccer, cross country, basketball, tennis and cricket. We love sports and sometimes take a soccer ball to our gigs to play afterwards.
RC: Finally, I find it inspiring how you all picked up your instruments from before the age of 10. I mean Saiyan had been playing guitar since you were 2 years old. That means that at 13 years old he’s played his instrument longer than most pros. I imagine it’s a lot of hard work. What’s your message to the kids watching your video who want to be as cool as you are?
Lasandra: Work hard, practice a lot and most importantly don’t forget about your school work as that is the most important!