We chat to 23 year-old up-n-coming Durban producer Muzi, who describes his sounds as "mutant trap", "hyper bass" and "African soca". Hot on the heels of his latest release entitled 'Fire Up The Bongo' EP, we discover he's got big dreams and mad steez to match. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears to the ground for this cat because he's definitely going places!
What has the response to Fire Up The Bongo been like so far?
Muzi: First of all, thank you for the interview :) The response has been great. This EP has got more plays in a few days than my last one, Bundu FX, did in six months! There is definitely progress.
Tell us about the making of this EP. Why did these six tracks make the cut?
Muzi: I started making this EP around the same time I dropped the Bundu FX EP. The last track I made was actually the title track Fire Up The Bongo. I wanted to work with my favourite rapper as well, a guy called Moshine Magnif who is part of Witness The Funk. He's also from Empangeni. I got to work with him on the track 'Hit The Floor' and it's one of my favourite tracks. Just like the first one, this one was also based solely on the tracks feeling right. A lot of tracks didn't make the cut because they weren't as good as the tracks chosen, plus they weren't as solid, as a body of work.
Put us on the game. What sounds/artists have you been listening to around the time of making this EP that may have infiltrated into your beats?
Muzi: I rarely listen to other people's music. I hear stuff here and there, but I never really focus on it. With that said, my musical heroes put out some really dope stuff during the time. Wolfgang Gartner always kills it. Deadmau5 is insane. Linkin Park did this track with Steve Aoki and it was just awesome music to my ears. I got into a bit of contemporary and world music which you can hear in some of the tracks, like in 'Fire Up The Bongo.' I grew up on all types of music, from rock 'n roll to reggae to kwaito to hip hop to eastern music, so all these influences come popping up when I create. Mostly though it's all subconscious.
You released Fire Up The Bongo through UK/ Dutch label / blog Generation Bass. How did the link up come about? How important do you think it is to extend ties internationally while you're still building a fan base here in Mzansi?
Muzi: On the first EP, I worked with a promo company in SA called Red Flag. They got Generation Bass to feature us on their website. That's how it started. Then we started talking to them about the possibility of us dropping an EP because of the support they continued to show us after the first EP had already dropped. That's how this EP got to be on their label.
I think it is very important and that's exactly what we're doing. Building one Muzi fan base here and one abroad. Music is universal. A language we all understand. No point in just doing it for people here when there's seven billion people on earth. I am putting no borders whatsoever on the music I'm doing and how far I can take it.
You've done some dope remixes of tunes by rappers like Riky Rick's Amantombazane and Casper Nyovest's Doc Shebeleza recently. Are you interested in producing for rappers, sort of how trap producers like TNGHT have been doing for the likes of Jay-Z and Kanye West? And if so, who most would you like to work with?
Muzi: Thank you for the compliment! Of course I am interested in working with other artists. The challenge is always an exciting one. Obviously, whoever I work with has to be at a level to match up the dark bass I put in all my beats! LOL. Jokes aside though, I'd love to work with Wolfgang Gartner, Flux Pavilion, The Prodigy, MoodyGood, and Skrillex, to name just a few. Already talking with a few of these people on the possibility of something popping off. I think working with M.I.A. would be awesome. Anyone who can bring something fresh that will make sense to both of us musically and artistically. If I ever do something with someone, that track has to be next level for the both of us.
This is the second EP you've released in succession for free download. What considerations do you have to take into account when balancing the need to get your tunes out there and make a name for yourself, but also needing to make loot at the same time?
Muzi: Awesome question. Right now I'm at a level of investing in myself. If I do this properly, the loot will start coming. No one knows who I am, so I can't start selling stuff immediately. I'm in the process of finding my crowd and even though not much has been made in return, it is slowly growing. Investment is the same everywhere; you risk, you make nothing initially but if the investment is good, you start cashing in. Let's hope I'm a good investment! LOL.
Your name is becoming a fixture on line-ups at big parties and festivals these days. What has been your craziest gig to date?
Muzi: That was late last year. I was doing a gig in Cape Town at a place called Side Show. I'm talking 2000-plus kids hard jamming to my tunes. I was mixing in the last track of my set and something went wrong, it just sounded über slow and… shit! Now imagine, I just had the crowd going nuts for an hour then on my last track my laptop fails me. So instead of being sad, I stop the music, jump into the crowd and yell "YO! I DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WITH THAT LAST TRACK BUT I PLAYED MY FUCKIN' HEART OUT. THANKS FOR SHOWING ME LOVE. MY NAME IS MUZI!" ... and the crowd just went insane. Girls were grabbing me, guys trynna shake my hand. I felt like I was Skrillex or someone. Was definitely a glimpse into the future! LOL. I could've used the microphone but screaming just felt more…natural.
We know you stay grinding. Can you let us in any upcoming projects we can expect in 2014? Full-length album, maybe?
Muzi: Currently talking with a few big names in the electronic scene here and internationally on a possible collab. Also have a few artists that I've produced for. Nothing is set as yet though so I can't really say. I'm probably going to drop a few tracks for free like I do every month, and maybe another EP in the second half of the year. I'm growing as a producer so I always have this urge to share my music. Too early for a full length album I think.
Are you big into social media? Where can peeps stay in touch with Muzi?
Just in case you haven't seen it yet, check out Muzi's Uproar music video…