Interview: Five Minutes with Blanka Mazimela of Bantwanas

Bantwanas is a collective of South African artists who have come together with a passion for music from their homeland meeting electronica with a focus on deep house. Bantwanas, meaning children of Africa, is led by Ryan Murgatroyd and student turned collaborator, Blanka Mazimela. Their upcoming EP, ‘Back To Front’ will be released on Friday 6th September. You’ll be able to find an interview with Ryan Murgatroyd and a link to the newly released EP on our site on the same day.

Ahead of this release, we were able to sit down and chat with Blanka Mazimela who has his own interesting tale. Originally influenced by both his father and brother’s love for house music, Mazimela was a self-taught musician who carried a pure love for vinyl. However, both the love and teachings really took flight when he met Murgatroyd and started developing his own career. The former head of digital music composition at the Soul Candi Institute of Music, he has gone on to tutor a number of future upcoming DJs and producers.

Hi Blanka, thanks for taking the time to chat with us. How has your year been going so far?

The year has been a long one. In the studio trying to push production as much as possible. Besides that, it’s been an incredible year for my growth as Blanka Mazimela

Looking back, what were some of your earliest entries into music appreciation? And music production?

The earliest moments I can remember were those of my late uncle. He was Rastafarian and we used to listen to Bob Marley, Peter Tosh & Burning Spear. He’d wake us up very early in the morning and would place a huge hi-fi speaker outside the house and make us jump up & down while blasting the music very loud… With music production, it was when I saw a Dennis Ferrer music production video on the internet and my neighbour had a PC with Cubase SX & I really struggled going past the metronome because the DAW was just blank but those days are long gone now. I now know Cubase like the back of my hand lol. 

You’ve listed Ryan as a mentor and now a collaborator. What has it been like to work alongside him over the years?

It’s something like no other. We’ve become good friends in the process also. He really is a hard worker when it comes to music production and content creation. I’ve absorbed the knowledge throughout the years and today I can safely say I still don’t know as much as he does. Meaning I’m still learning. He has nurtured my craft for quite some time. I’m sure he can say he’s lost patience at a certain time with me and I could also say the same,  but that’s the nature of relationships. I think ours was meant to be hahaha! Looking at how our processes became similar is probably one of the reasons why this project works as organically as it does today. 

The student has become the master. What message do you have for upcoming artists?

This game is not for KIDS. There are days where you ask yourself why you make music. One needs to understand that music is a dark, unrewarding (at times) and time-consuming art form. It’s true when they say not everyone is cut out for it. Words I would say would be ‘master your craft from Back To Front’ 

What is your favourite single from the upcoming EP? Why?

‘Back To Front’ is my favourite. Only because we’ve worked with Xoli the vocalist on the song for a long time now. There are tracks we’ve chucked away and it’s very rewarding to see her come out of her shell on this record. I think her voice is pure and sincere. She’s going to be the next big deal and to see it all being unearthed right here is probably why I love what I do. 

You’ve focused on live vocals and traditional, locally sourced African instrumentation within your upcoming EP, ‘Back To Front’. What do you look for when you do this sourcing?

We normally look for something that’s original and pure. Also for me, it really needs to tell a story. We then try to translate that story into something meaningful by adding composition and instrumentation. That whole process has to be organic and pure. 

Besides your own Bantwanas collective, what African electronic act/s would you like to highlight for our readers?

I’d love to highlight the following vocalists the talented trio ‘Korus’ and ‘Khonaye’. The following talented producers Nizhe DeSoul & Caliber Afrofusion both of these guys are packing some heat.  

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