10 July 2012 | KULANI NKUNA
Musicians often take pride in coining new descriptive terms for their music.
The most interesting idea thus far in South Africa has to be “African neo-soul”, the term Malik Zwane uses to describe his fourth album, Music In Love.
From the sound of Zwane’s voice and verve on the album, it is clear that he enjoyed playing around with various soulful sounds during the production stages.
“I make music that speaks to your heart – not that fast club music,” Zwane says.
“I play drums, piano and guitar, so I thought I might just as well experiment with other sounds, but I was careful to make sure that I did not lose myself.
I think that we have come with a new and fresh sound, and I am hoping that people will love the album.”
On some tracks, Zwane sounds a bit like D’Angelo, working specifically in the American neo-soul style, while he also manages to blend well with gentle African rhythms.
Zwane finds himself in this new space after releasing vocal house albums that were variably successful.
“It has been an interesting journey for me thus far,” says Zwane.
“When I listen to my first house album from back in 2005, I realise that people were not ready for it.
I am on the right course, though, because I don’t want to grow old making bubblegum music.
“The challenge sometimes is that as a singer you can get confused because you can sing anything, from pop to gospel. But this genre is who I am and I am being honest with myself.
“People are open minded when it comes to good music, and if you capitalise on that you can’t go wrong.
This album is about how music plays a role in love.”
The time is ripe for artists to try new things, with local audiences slowly but surely leaning towards quality music. Lyrically, this album is well put together, with some creative thought behind it.
“This is a love album”, continues Zwane.
“It deals with the usual subject matter, but I do it differently. I have been through a lot in this industry, and you have to be careful how you produce your album. For instance, you must be careful of how you create your melodies – you don’t want to sound like Ntando, Simphiwe Dana or Bilal.
“When people hear the song on radio, they must be able to distinguish the melodies and say that this is a Malik song.
You have to give your music an identity.”
Zwane is not too particular about the target audience he wishes to attract, but rather focuses on the quality of the music.
“Anyone can listen to my music,” he says.
“When I create it, I make sure that it is something that is going to last and passed on through different generations. I want to be remembered as a soulful dude.
I am the definition of soul.”
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