Tag Archives: WNS Family

WNS Family Part II – Understand that you’re not dealing with a small time brand…

Over the years the WNS stage has become a bucket list-worthy stage to perform on for poets and musicians alike.

It provides young, up and coming artists have a platform to showcase their unique, sometime eclectic sound to lovers of words and sounds.

We recently spoke to Masai Dabula [WNS Multimedia Manager, shareholder and former King of the Mic], Xongani Maluleka [affectionately known as Xongi, WNS Production Manager and Shareholder] and BlaQ2sday [one of the many awesome artists to have showcase on our stage], about their their individual Word N Sound experiences both on and off the stage.

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How did Word N Sound hook you? What made you want to get involved as a shareholder?

Masai: It was a gradual transgression. I had to prove, in various ways, that I was worthy to be part of the team. The support was also immense, not to mention the vision Word N Sound has. The hook was initiated by Word N Sound’s objective to be the voice of Africa when it comes to literature, and why wouldn’t I take the shares… I am Word N Sound!

Xongi: I wanted to get involved as a shareholder because I wanted to form part of the biggest poetry movement in this country. It is a great pleasure to be part of one of a few black owned production companies in South Africa. Well Word N Sound wanted me; it chose me. Word N Sound is hooked on me… 😉

Besides being a poetry, performance and live literature experience like no other, Word N Sound challenges those who step onto its stage and into its boardroom to learn and grow in ways they have not done before.

We spoke to the ever eclectic BlaQ2sday about their Word N Sound experience.

Blaq2sday

BlaQ2sday

BlaQ2day: Our first performance was intimidating, because Word N Sound was, at that time, the first show that was so on point. From the stage setup at the Market Theatre Lab, to the sound system and band instruments layout on stage, to the lighting and all those fancy things. We walked in there, we were happy, but tense at the same time.

Then over a year later, we did the WNS Rise of The Underdogs. At that stage, we were already used to nice things, so our confidence was already sky high the minute we saw the top class stage setup at the SABC Radio Park. We were just too excited, and we had the nicest of times.

What is different about the Word N Sound stage, compared to different stages you have performed on?

Word N Sound is world class. The trick is that, Word N Sound is open to anyone to step on their stage, whatever calibre the artist. However, as an artist, if you follow Word N Sound, you’ll know that not everybody can step up. The bar is just too high. Even the Open Mic is on flames. So, that should tell you something. We’ve been to shows where the organisers ask us if we have mics by any chance, or a live performance mixer [‘O_o]. So in brief, WNS pioneered a new standard for the arts, they gave artists hope in performance arts.

Since your showcase, what have you been up to?

We’ve had a couple of unfortunate events that disturbed the health of the band, and demotivated the team. So we had to take some time out as a band. This year, we’ll be looking into making more music than anything else, we are also switching up the sound a bit. Without giving away too much, we’ll be adding a new sound to what you already know of BlaQ2sday.

On the up side, on Friday 30 January we were announced the winners for the MTV #KickStartMyBandIntoGear Competition. We won the grand prize of R100 000 worth of band gear from Music Connection, courtesy of MTV, Electric Vines and Music Connection.

Much of what the audience sees is the result of hours of planning, preparations, mini heart attacks and many tantrums, but a collective team effort nonetheless. A lot of connections help the lights come on.

Xongani

Xongi: When we have festivals it gets really hectic and one really just has to suck it up until the end of the festival. Surprisingly enough it is always hectic, this is one thing I could never get used to. I have accepted this norm and that is how I am able to go into the next festival despite the odds.

A wise man once said, the only constant in life is change, and although Masai came to Word N Sound with no expectations, purely to be part of the experience, he and his vision for the company have changed.

With everything that WNS has done (and not done) over the years, what is your vision now for WNS? How is it different from the WNS you joined, and is that good or bad?

Masai: My vision is basic and simple: poetry must become a credible industry… Where writers will be acknowledged for their craftsmanship. Africa has many stories to tell, and we need to harness those stories for the world at large. My vision for Word N Sound has altered, and I have grown. It has solidified thanks to my team and I can easily say the vision is feasible.

As a former King of the Mic, what is your opinion on the type of performances you have seen on the stage?

Masai: Word N Sound has given a face-lift to poetry! There’s so much stigma attached to poetry. WNS has managed to challenge writers in ways I didn’t imagine when I first stepped on that stage. Our stage adjures writers to challenge the status quo and question conventional thinking. This is the main ingredient to an amazing show and strengthening the movement.

Who was your most hectic adversary?

Nova and Mutle were my greatest foes, but I grew to love them and respect them regardless of our clashes.

What is your advise for all those who are still to step on the mic?

Masai: When one steps on stage, one should have the decency of being honest.

Xongi: To the performers, my advice would have to be that they must always enjoy their moments on stage, because when we as the audience see that you are enjoying yourself, we will, too.

BlaQ2sday: Plain and simple: Our advice to the next artists is – Understand that you’re not dealing with a small time brand, so just to be safe, bring a world class showcase.

What would you like to see from Word N Sound in future?

BlaQ2sday: We would definitely love to see Word N Sound growing to be more than what it already is. Something like a franchise almost. The whole of South Africa needs to be exposed to what Word N Sound is doing for artists. So it would be nice to extend that to other parts of the country, and eventually the world. And a National Festival doesn’t sound bad neither, #InWordNSoundWeTrust!

Xongi: For the company I would like to say that we should never stop! We are a monster of a company and the world is yet to see more amazing things come from us. #INWNSWETRUST #POETRYWINS #ABEAST this thing…

Would you come back to the WNS stage in future? Why?

BlaQ2sday: Is this a trick question?

The more I speak to people about Word N Sound, the more it starts sounding like the pied piper of poetry. All those who hear the Word N Sound story, find their ways to its doors, and never want to leave.

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WNS Family Part I – Being part of something bigger – Why we joined WNS

Why We Joined WNS

Some people walk though doors, onto stages and find themselves in the middle of a boardroom and never quite leave. This is exactly what happened to these to WNS shareholders.

Word N Sound, like many other movements, started as a desire, a thought. With an initial audience of 5 at it’s inaugural show, the live literature company has come a long way over the past 4 years to hosting sold out monthly shows across the Johannesburg city-scape.

The company has grown from that very first show in 2010 to bringing audiences some of the best young poets South Africa has to offer – to bringing the world’s poets to South African stages, taking South African poets to the world, to a launching a Digital Stores where poets can sell their work.

At the core of it all though, is a little show hosted on the 1st Saturday of every month for those craving a fix of poetry.

Word of mouth is still the most effective way of marketing, which is what led to these two, would be shareholders, walking through our doors a few years ago.

Both Mpho Khosi and Mutle Mothibe first heard about Word N Sound from a friend – so they came, they saw and haven’t left since. They share similar visions, but are informed by different schools of thought.

Q: How did WNS hook you? What was it about the platform that made you want to be a part of it as a shareholder?

Mpho: I was hooked by the idea of being part of a generation that evolved poetry in South Africa, a part of something bigger than just being a poet

Mutle: Their vision for spoken word art, well ART in general. I felt they shared some of the vision I have when it comes to growing this art into an industry and having artists live off their art. The idea that we could spark a movement that could have out children living off of this art is one that is very close to my heart. I felt then that these are people I want to align my energy with towards achieving the goals we have in mind.

Q: Coming in, what were your expectations?

Mpho: Honestly, I came in just looking to break my “in the closet poet” tag. I just needed a platform and found it on the Word N Sound stage. This has all changed as I have come to realise the amount of work that goes into providing the platform.

Mutle: Not really… I came in fully aware that it’s all in me. It’s all about what I can bring to the table to make this endeavour a success. I have always felt that the team concentrates on what every individual can bring to the table and we work hard which in turn makes the bigger picture work more smoothly.

Regardless, both found themselves at home with the WNS family and have accumulated a world of memories and experiences in their hearts and minds.

Q: What was one of your most memorable performances/moments with WNS?

Mpho: The first Word N Sound festival. It was something out of this world, more so as I was part of this rebirth of a super sleeping giant.

Q: With everything that WNS has done (and not done) over the years, what’s your vision now for WNS? How is it different from the WNS you joined when you did, and is that good or bad?

Mutle: Well the vision has not changed really… if anything we still have the same goals but now we are more equipped to meet the challenges that pop up. There are a lot of ideas that have been lying dormant in volts and we are now revisiting them because we have the resources to bring them to fruition.

Word N Sound is not the first poetry collective in the country. Many movements and organisations start with brilliant ideas, passion and drive, and fizzle somewhere along the line, sometimes even before they pick up any pace.

Speaking to the two shareholders, they both seem to attribute the success of Word N Sound, partly, to the connectedness and unity in the collective, despite the challenges that might have come along the way.

Q: Many movements wither and die. What do you think WNS did differently?

Mpho: Word N Sound has found a way of engaging their audience. We have not only provided a platform, but have also helped grow the community of poets

Mutle: I think what has helped WNS’ staying power is a sense of family with which the company shareholders work. Our marketing has evolved over the years and has helped us reach diverse audiences. Another huge factor is that the calibre of art coming out of the WNS league has created a huge shift in the spoken word arena. So much so that people from other provinces, countries and even other continents are engaging us about being part of the league or finding out if we could host the league in their area. We have become a worldwide brand and these factors have helped sustain and promote the growth of the company along with its staying power.

 Q: Any advice you would give WNS?

Mpho: Keep your head down, eyes open and always listen to your audience; they know what product they want to invest in.

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