Majozi has an insatiable fire burning inside of him
Armed with a new confidence, new album and a new fire in his heart burning for more, Majozi feels he’s ready to take on the world
When I met Majozi last year, he was a timid though unabashedly honest Durbanite one-man folk band who really didn’t want to talk about love. A lot of things have changed since then though the Majozi I met is still altogether there.
He remembers this place and I find him comfortably sat at a more obvious table this time at Truth Coffee on Cape Town’s bustling Buitenkant Street. He remembers me and still has the same Durban charm about it. It’s about the music from the get go. His guitar case, positioned alongside him, guards him like a barracks. He tells me he’s about to take on a performance on SABC 2’s Hectic Nine-9. He’s hanging out and about in Cape Town, in part, because he has a new No. 3 iTunes album in the form of Fire to promote. But he’s also hanging out because he has just officially become a Capetonian since mid-July.
“Durban is a small city – it’s a wonderful city and I love it,” he remembers. “But I just needed a change and room to grow in a different kind of environment to experience different things. So, I decided to move to Cape Town.” For many people, Cape Town is seen as the creative Mecca of this country but a day in the city of Johannesburg will dispel this urban myth. There are as many, if not more, creatives in Joburg and the one thing it has abundantly more than Cape Town is cash dollar. So surely it would be the more viable option. “Joburg is very rat race, hustle-and-bustle and cutthroat type of vibe. I like the vibe of coastal cities,” Majozi qualifies. “I like the fact that Cape Town has a lot of things where you can get stuff done and it also has that side where people are more relaxed, more chilled and stuff. I think the creative environment here just suits my lifestyle and my type of music way more than Joburg does.”
Before I used to say I’ll never ever move to Joburg but now it’s a possibility.
So when it comes down to it, it’s got to do with the vibes. Some people are just Cape Town people. Some people are just Joburg people. Although, Joburg isn’t completely ruled off. “Before I used to say I’ll never ever move to Joburg but now it’s a possibility.” The last time I spoke to him, he told me that the US was the ultimate goal. “Yes, it’s still definitely a thing,” he reconfirms. “I’m happy here but I think complacency can be there death of you, especially as an artist. You’ve always gotta be pushing yourself. As soon as things start getting easy then you know you need to start moving on. So definitely, I will definitely still do that.” He’s got his sights set on 2017 but nothing written in stone as of yet.
In the vain of his efforts to break it internationally, Francois van Coke of Van Coke Kartel reached out to him to take part in the Afrikaanse Kultuurfest in Amsterdam. “Weirdly enough, it was an Afrikaans festival,” as you might have guessed from the festival’s namesake and location. “I was the only English guy there.” So where did Francois get the crazy idea to invite Majozi. “I think they just wanted something different so they invited me to come along. It was amazing. We played to a lot of expats and to a lot of Amsterdam locals. It was just really cool to hang out with those guys and just be overseas because it was my first time actually going overseas so it was quite an experience.”
The confidence to perform English songs to a very Afrikaans crowd parallels his new found confidence to finally fully explore issues of love and romance. “I think I’ve learnt now that a lot of what music is is people don’t only buy into your music, they buy into you as an artist as well,” he reasons. “I try to be more sincere and genuine so people can understand I’m also just a normal person. I think a lot of the times, people put artists and musicians on pedestals and they’re like, ‘Ah, this guy is amazing and he never makes mistakes.’ I wanted to let people know I go through stuff, I make mistakes, I’m just like you.”
I think a lot of the times, people put artists and musicians on pedestals and they’re like, ‘Ah, this guy is amazing and he never makes mistakes.’
I ask him, in particular, about the line, I’m not a hopeless romantic / I’m just hopeless instead / I can’t get you out my head / I can’t get you out my head from the song, “Where Do We Go”. “That line. I wrote that line before I wrote the song,” he remembers. “As some of my friends would say, I’m a hopeless romantic. When you don’t succeed in a relationship, you feel like you’re just hopeless; you want to take away that romantic part of it because there is no romance.” As all romances go, he had a run-in with a girl that ended up in the feelings of hopelessness imbued by “Where Do We Go”. “And I was like, okay, this is the opportunity for me to use that line in a song.”
The next single off of the album is called “Breathing” and it couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. By his own account, the song is about “giving someone advice about life, [about] not taking it too seriously and taking moments to step back when life gets too hectic and just take a deep breath and realise that maybe it’s not as hectic as you think it is.” That’s a mouthful but, the song that was inspired by a Kings of Leon Vh1 Storytellers episode, is the musician’s own Man in the Mirror manifesto. In the Storytellers episode, frontman Caleb Followill talks about a song he wrote for his daughter as advice to her. “Breathing” was written in the same vain but once you get a sense of the things Majozi’s concerned about as well as those his been through, it’s not difficult to understand that who he was actually writing it for, though unbeknownst to him, is himself.
It’s just as well that a song like that would appear on his debut full-length album. This project has been a chance for Majozi to properly reintroduce himself. “In this game, it’s always a gradual process of introducing yourself to people,” he explains. “Even though I’ve been around for a couple of years, there’s still a lot of people that don’t know me so there’s a lot of people that won’t have Mountains [EP] and that won’t have known me from before.” This was the thinking behind including his breakout single, “Darling,” and album title track, “Fire,” on the debut album. But not all the tracks from his previous works made the crossover and “Rivers” was one of them. “I guess we could have put it on there. There was so many songs that I liked that we recorded that I couldn’t on there,” he explanatorily remembers. “So, it was just finding a balance of what works on the album, what new songs we wanna get out.
Hey, man, I was gutted about some songs I couldn’t put on the album but I think that’s just the nature of what I do.
“Hey, man, I was gutted about some songs I couldn’t put on the album but I think that’s just the nature of what I do.” Another part of the nature of show business is the ‘show’ part. Fame is part and parcel of the game and Majozi has come to understand it as not being the measure of his success but rather a driver towards it. He’s also come to understand that there’s more. “This isn’t the end either. I hope this is just a stepping stone for me and more albums and just getting out there. I hope the process just continues and I grow and my music grows and people start enjoying it more and more.”
I asked him about naming the album Fire. “I went through a bunch of horrible names thinking for the album. They were really bad names.” He isn’t kidding. The lowest moment was when he went to his label manager with the prospective name, The Beauty and The Madness. “He was like, ‘Are you being serious?’ And I was like, ‘Ja, how cool is that name?’ And he was like, ‘No, that’s the name of The Weeknd’s new album.’ So, I was like, ‘Ah!’” (The Weeknd has a similarly titled album called, The Beauty Behind the Madness.) He says he eventually “just settled” because even though he had a successful single with “The River,” he thought “Fire” was the one that really introduced him to fans. It may well be but if this interview is anything to go by, the album is actually called Fire because the Majozi has finally geared himself up to fan the new flame that is his young career around the globe.