Levi’s ® is throwing three incredible parties around South Africa on the 2nd of April. We’re celebrating that with an interview series on two musicians that have incredible style. First up was Moonchild, who will be performing at the event in Johannesburg, and here we have Nonku Phiri. Nonku is a singer, songwriter and graphic designer based in Johannesburg. She’s collaborated on chart-topping songs with Crazy White Boy and PHFat. We got to hear about her upcoming album, some aspects about being a woman in the music industry and influences of her incredible style.
DYD: You mentioned work on your debut album. Tell us about it. What inspired you to create it and what has been the process behind making it?
Nonku: Working with Crazy White Boy and PHFat over the past two years has made the journey quite interesting, and I have spent a lot of time “gleaming the cube” and trying to pin down my sound. I guess everything starting falling into place over the latter half of last year, when I started working with a Maloon the Boom from the Booyoom collective and Narch. Having worked on various collaborative/feature tracks, I needed to make sure that the project was not only different but also represented who I am as an artist outside of my collaborative efforts. I’m really looking forward to sharing my music with the masses.
DYD: Megan Seling from Nashville Scene wrote an article about the under representation of female musicians at music festivals in The States this year. For instance, Weekend 1 of Coachella 2015 has a 17% female representation. We realised that this is a trend here too, in South Africa, and it goes beyond performance of music to jobs that support the music industry like photography and writing. What would you say to a generation of females like yourself changing this?
Nonku: I usually get asked this question quite a lot, and think that it’s a matter of taking matters into your own hands and making it hard to be ignored. I think that the industry lacks a certain level of camaraderie amongst females and hope to see female artists collaborating across all mediums. I work in a very male orientated environment and pride myself in always trying to be a great example/role model when it comes to defying all of these gender stereotypes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but I think we’re going to get there.
DYD: You have incredible style. How did your style evolve? Also, has been your biggest style influence?
Nonku: I’m a serious tomboy and got into dresses and make-up when I started performing. I don’t really have any style influences and tend to wear what feels right at the time. I guess the best way to answer this question would be to say that comfort plays a great role in influencing my style, nothing works if it doesn’t feel right.
DYD: Do you think that music influences your fashion sense? If so, is it based around the musicians or the music itself?
Nonku: Yes and no. While I can’t speak for everyone, I think artists have the advantage of being able to play dress up and have fun with their looks. I’ve really enjoyed being able to just be myself and I guess my music and/or vocation allows pushing the envelope a bit more.
DYD: Imagine that your musical success has gone worldwide and event organisers are demanding .that you attend their events. Where would you like to peform? It could be a venue or a festival.
Nonku: There are so many! Afro Punk, SXSW and the North Sea are at the top of the list for now.