We talk to the incredible THABO about making music that can “educate, entertain, and empower”.
Zimbabwe-born, Huddersfield-based Thabo Mkwananzi is about to become your new obsession. The artist is creating tracks that are powerful and moving, often including a political statement within them. His raw vocal talent is evident in his latest single “Sensible”, which premiered on Wonderland last week. The track is emotive and soulful, with a hook that is instantly goose-bump inducing.
Destined for great things, we sat down with the unique artist himself to find out all about him.
When did you first start making music?
I’m a church born and raised singer but strictly speaking the first thing I ever recorded and released was a house record called “Addicted To Your Love”, when I was 22…
Can you tell us a little about your creative process?
Making music is a lot like fishing, you’re dancing and wrestling with something you can’t see – you have to feel it, give it room, draw the line in, give it room…back and forth you both go…until the fish is on the boat or successfully evades capture…requiring you to be a better fisherman next time. Songs will do that to you…slip away from you until you deserve to catch them…also if they’re too small you put them back, they’re time hasn’t come… Interestingly I’ve only ever been fishing once…lol.
You’re originally from Zimbabwe. How has this influenced your music?
For now, the influence is evidenced mostly in the political slant our music tends to take…coming from a place that was known as the Bread Basket of Africa when I was growing up, its impossible to ignore the price we’ve paid for poor politics….we often import food now and our economy is shot to pieces. In such a political and economic climate, music must not only entertain but crucially, educate and empower.
“I really wanted to people to listen to this and feel empowered to make the choice that comes from the heart. That’s what this song does for me.”
You often incorporate strong political messages in your songs. Do you feel like it’s your duty as an artist to speak out about these issues?
In my opinion artists are the natural adversaries to politicians. We are after all ‘elected’ in a similar manner. They present ideas through policy we do it through song. If those ideas resonate, politicians will campaign with speeches and slogans, we go on tour with catchy choruses and bright lights. Politicians are voted in with ballots – and nowadays, musicians with downloads and streams…whoever has the most wins and is in a position to represent the people for a term, four or five years for a politician – four or five albums for a musician. That said, it is the duty of every musician to check politicians and still maintain integrity for you and your craft. The greats like Marvin clearly demonstrated that you can say “Let’s get it on” and then ask, “What’s going on?” In answer to your question – quite simply – yes, it is my duty.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
The best moments happen on stage cause the energy is so pure. We just played a gig at The Brudenell in Leeds, so many people showed up who been rocking with us from the beginning…the love in the room was thick and fluffy – super special!!!
Your latest single, “Sensible”, is a dreamy but super powerful track. What was the inspiration behind it?
I really wanted to people to listen to this and feel empowered to make the choice that comes from the heart. That’s what this song does for me. The questions in the first verse are so important…in the history and future of humanity there will only ever be one YOU – it’s that deep. You’re not here to pay bills and live by worn out paradigms. Let your heart amaze and terrify you – LIVE!
Who are some of the artists that you’re listening to now?
Hiatus Kaiyote, Alabama Shakes, D’Angelo, Bob Marley
What’s next for THABO?
Definitely more music as well as some other surprises – for those, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out 😉