Interview with Black Motion

By: Niki van den Heever

Representing Tshawne in the South African music scene, Black Motion, comprised of Robert Mahosana, AKA DJ Murda and percussionist, Thabo ‘Smol’ Mabogwane formed in early 2010 and has since their hit ‘Banane Mavoko’ the duo has just sored to new heights. It didn’t take long at all before their sound reached international waters, with releases via Tribe and Nulu, as well as releasing their debut album Talking to the Drums through Kalawa Jazmee and Universal records in 2011. Their second album soon followed in 2012 and the duo themselves set foot on international soil, performing in the UK, Portugal, Angola, Namibia, Botswana as well as the Winter Music Conference in Miami for 2012 and 2013.  

Taking their music track for track, it might be easier to describe each one as an individual piece of art, but trying to label their entire body of work as any particular one sound, is near impossible and with good reason. The duo has throughout their career made a very strong point of it not to get pigeonholed into any kind of category or genre. That being said, one thing we can say about Black Motion is that they represent the spirit of music in every sense of the sentiment. Their aim is to move you. Not just physically but spiritually as well. A goal reached night after night as their performances continue to shake their audiences no matter where they go.

It is an honour to have had the opportunity to gain some insights from Black Motion as they took the time to answer a few questions for us about their inspirations, what drives them forward and how they maintain their spiritual core on the road.

Your music is so diverse. How would you personally describe your sound? And how would you say it’s evolved over the years?

We are making world music and normally don’t like to categorize our music. We rather let the fans do that for us. Our sound has evolved a lot, given that we started to be more musical in our approach. We still keeping to our authentic sound but fuse more of jazzy elements into it through the piano/key melodies.

Your catalogue of collaborations is quite vast. Who would you say are both your favourite artists to work with so far.

We’ve been blessed to work with legends in the game, uBaba Madala Kunene and Mabe Thobejane, ntate Tlokwe Sehume, Wunmi, Simphiwe Dana, Bucie just to name a few. We don’t have favourite artists because we have greater respect for the music. We believe in synergy and hence we are able to work with almost anyone in the industry. Our dream is to break more ground on the international space to reach a wider audience.

Are there any genres you’ve come across that you would still like to incorporate into your own music somehow or perhaps a genre-crossover you might want to do eventually?

We make music hence we don’t like to box ourselves. There’s a wider space to create so if we are to be challenged to do a hip-hop piece we will take the idea and run with it. As music creators, we should always shy away from being genre-specific in order to challenge ourselves so we can reach greater heights.

There are many kids who look up to both of you as inspiration for the music they’re making today. Could you tell us a bit about the artists who inspired you to start making music in the first place?

Damn, we grew up during the Kwaito revolution when dance music was still called international in SA. We were mostly influenced by the likes of B.O.P (Brothers of Peace) made up of Oskido & Bruce Dope Sebitlo, Fela Kuti played a role, mostly the creators of dance music who were popular in the 90s leading up to the 20s played a role.

Watch Black Motion‘s New Music Video for ‘Joy Joy’ ft Brenden Praise here.

Are there any new artists you’re interested in right now?

If this question is a follow up from the previous one, we are honestly looking at opening the international stage collaboration-wise, hence we are constantly in contact with our counterparts overseas to see how we can fuse and forge relationships to work. Otherwise Currently we honestly trying to build our label and that’s why we are focused on our own artists Brenden Praise, Miss P and Caiiro so we can have a solid base and method, which we can be able to replicate before we can even start thinking of new artists.

Is there anything about the current developments in African music that excites you?

Africa is the place to be now creative-wise and it’s about time we start to have well-established internationals coming towards us to work together. Music is a universal language and as such we shouldn’t have an African, USA, UK or Mexico sound, we should have WORLD MUSIC.

What is your opinion on European producers making ‘African music’? Can we still call it Afro House if it came from France or Belgium?

Music is music regardless of where it is made. Labelling it has no significance at all. Ultimately, it’s about uniting people on the dance floor.

Many musical artists leave their beliefs and traditions behind when they embark on their careers but the two of you have not. Do you find it difficult to hold onto your core beliefs when travelling the world?

Authenticity and originality matters. We can’t get booked on an international space and get there only to play the music they are already accustomed to. We must bring our flavour and our true self, so it’s not an issue for us on how people perceive us and thus it is not difficult for us to stay true to our core beliefs when travelling because that’s what we know best, and changing what we do will only lead us to a trap of sounding the same as others thus closing the doors for us.

Please explain the spiritual experience of your live shows.

Our music is more focused on taking one on a spiritual journey. If you don’t get moved then we perceive you not to be in touch with your spiritual self.

When I beat the drum it must connect to my core just as much as when Bongani does his mixing in the Dj booth it must talk to his spiritual core. When that happens that’s when the magic will happen on stage. Music, as explained, is a universal language spoken and understood by all. It’s a way of talking to your spirit and suppose to heal you when you are down.

What has been your favourite city/venue that you have performed at during your travels?

Nigeria, having been in that city and played in a club full of Fela’s memories was amazing. Mexico, UK (Jazz Club) and Ibiza stand out thus far.

Has there been any night in particular that stands out for you both as a powerful memory on stage?

Every night we go out is never the same but Hi stands out.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or shows in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

2020 we will be celebrating 10 years in the industry and are planning to make it a big year for us and our fans.

Any last thoughts you would like to leave with your fans?

To our fans thank you for the continued support and we are also trying our level best to always give you our best.

Watch Black Motion ‘The Journey’ ft Toshi, released April 2018

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