Word N Sound’s Head of Production, Xongani Maluleka, got to know Makhafula Vilakazi a little before in this interview before his performance at the second installment of Word N Sound Presents… this Thursday at Sophiatown, Melville.
1. I understand that Makhafula Vilakazi is just your stage name. Please tell us what made you choose this as the moniker of your public persona?
There is nothing in the poem per se. It was just a name that people elokhsini started calling me by, and I adopted it as a stage name I guess.
2. In one of the many reviews of your critically acclaimed album “I’m Not Going Back To The Township”, it is noted that the box of “Poetry” is limiting for your style of delivery. What kind of artists do you consider yourself to be?
I am writer. I sometimes write poems, sometimes I write prose and sometimes the distinction between the two is muddled.
3. Did you produce your album ‘I’m Not Going Back To The Township’ independently, and did this impact the ease or difficulty of making collaborations happen?
Yes, I produced it independently. I wanted the album to have a bit of variety in the form of music and I approached a number of people. Because I was doing an independent project with no real commercial prospects, I was rejected by quite a few people. Samthing Soweto and Impande Core were prepared to do the collaboration for art’s sake I suppose.
4. Many artists say that if it were possible to just be artists without worrying about the administrative side of things, they would opt for that. Do you feel the same?
Yes, I tend to agree with that. Ideally artists should just focus on art and have someone to do the admin. Unfortunately, the current industry model dictates that artists have to be signed with record labels for this purpose. The contracts they end up signing are exploitative and the artists end up getting fraction of what we pay for their art.
5. You’ve published an anthology “Sections of Six” under the Botsotso Publishers banner. How has the book been doing in terms reception by the audience and sales? Do you feel that it is viable to monetize performance poetry through books at present?
I was one of six poets who were published on the anthology. Honestly, I do not know how the book is doing. With regards to your second question, I do believe there is potential for both. Some poetry is better packaged in books and some in audio. I have also seen some amazing audio-visual work from poets at Word N Sound and I think there is a lot of opportunity there as well.
6. What drives you to create art?
I am drawn to the untold stories of the downtrodden and forgotten people ekasi. I am also inspired by the everyday.
7. What would you say has been the major highlight of your career thus far?
I would say preforming on the same stage with Botsotso Jesters in 2005 was the highlight.
8. After winning the B-Connected competition hosted in Soweto by Music Mayday, you went on to perform at The Music Mayday Festival in Tanzania. What valuable insights did you learn from this that you would like to pass on to other artists that are looking to expand into the continent?
I am not sure if that qualifies me to give advice but the biggest lesson I took from it was around language and authenticity. In Tanzania I performed my poetry in Zulu and Tsotsitaal some in English. Interestingly the people related more to the feeling that went with the vernacular poems more than the English one.
9. Oh, and one more thing; where can we get your album and your book?
I gather that the book is available at Xara Bookshop. If you want a copy of the CD you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
— #DigitalAfrika (@Afurakan) April 22, 2014
The Godly Makhafula Vilakazi is performing on Thursday at Sophiatown in Melville. Can't wait to get my life!
— Mastupuluza (@KhwezLokusa) April 22, 2014