Muvuti: Zim's latest music sensation in UK

HARARE - This week I had the opportunity to interview United Kingdom-based and Zimbabwe-born singer/songwriter and producer Farai Muvuti who leads a quintet called The Forest Dawn.

I have been enthralled by this young man for a while now, so it was such a pleasure to speak to him about his passions and inspirations. Farai’s music has been described as a “unique brand of retro-futuristic, soul-styled pop.’’

Since winning the Battle of Bands 2014, which announced their arrival as a serious new creative force, Farai and The Forest Dawn have not looked back.

Below are excerpts of the wide-ranging interview:

PSN: How and why did you end up in the music industry?

FM: I have always been drawn to the art form from a tender age. The how factor came into effect when I met Eric Dyson who believed in my gift and gave me free studio time which allowed me to spend time finding my sound.

PSN: What was your journey like venturing out and becoming a professional musician, playing gigs, releasing CDs? Do you feel you’ve reached your initial goals?

FM: The journey has been interesting so far. We spent a large part of last year touring and shaping our sound as a band. This comes with a lot of challenges but we’ve consistently been able to sustain ourselves and get to better heights musically. I would say we are very far from attaining our full ambitions but we relish the challenge of getting it done.

PSN: What do you enjoy most about performing live?

FM: I thoroughly enjoy the synergy formed between the ground and us. It’s such a wonderful force that elevates the experience of sharing our art.

PSN: In what ways do your live performances differ from recordings?

FM: Our recordings are more “formulaic and have to work within certain confines, such as radio time and so forth. However, live performances allow us to work outside recording restrictions so the difference would be how we jam the track.

PSN: Where do you find your inspiration for song ideas?Å

FM: It comes from my life experiences be it direct or through observing other people’s experience. I love connecting with different cultures, as that can be a source of inspiration.

PSN: How do you determine what aspects of lyrics will work with your musical intent?

FM: I let the vibe direct me. It is more of an intangible thing and there is very little reasoning that goes into it in my experience. It just has to feel good and that’s all I need.

PSN: You have just released a single; please tell us how your new material differs from your older material?

FM: My new material demonstrates how I have evolved musically. It’s taken me a long time to finally find my sound and the new single All I Had radically reflects that. A lot of the new material converges African sounds with indie rock and a bit of retro soul. It reflects not only my own diversity as far as music but also the different personalities we have in the band.

PSN: Describe the feedback you have received in response to your music.

FM: So far it’s been great. We have been able to grow a dedicated fan base that we relate to as the Farai and The Forest Dawn. The support and feedback has been phenomenal.

PSN: What innovative concepts would you like to focus upon in your future performances and recordings?

FM: Wow that’s a secret but trust me it’s going to be crazy so watch this space.

PSN: What motivates you to continue performing and recording new music?

FM: People are my motivation. The mere fact that someone finds our music worthy enough to purchase and also makes time to come to a show is motivation enough to keep pushing this dream forward.

PSN: Tell us a bit about the most memorable performance you have had to date?

FM: For me it has to be at the finals of the ‘Be on the Scene Battle of The Bands Competition.’ We really put our all into that performance and it made us stronger as a team. Winning the competition made the performance worthwhile and showed us we had something to give the world.

PSN: How have you used internet resources to expose and market your music?

FM: The Internet enables us to have direct access to our audience and allows us to build a direct business- consumer relationship. This allows us to diversify our business model by creating other revenue streams such as band merchandise and betters song delivery because we are able to receive feedback from our website www.faraiandtheforestdawn. Furthermore, it allows independent bands like mine to distribute music internationally without a record company.

PSN: What challenges have you experienced so far in expressing your views through music?

FM: I haven’t had to deal with that yet because we are self-funded and therefore have full creative control of what we do.

PSN: What new opportunities are you exploring to advance your music to the general public?

FM: We currently are changing the set-up of our website to make it more interactive. We would like to get more input from our fans in the creation and design of band products such as T shirts, Hoodies and caps. We are also working on a touring application that informs fans where we are playing and how to get tickets directly from their phones.

PSN: Can we expect an African tour in the near future?

FM: That’s definitely something I have wanted to do for a long time so it is indeed inevitable and it’s going to be sooner than expected.

PSN: How do you think Zimbabwean musicians can push their music more to an international level like Nigeria has managed to do?

FM: I believe Zimbabwean music is already at an international level; it’s just a matter of time till it expands its market base. But it all starts with us the people as is the case with all other markets. My advice is to keep on keeping on.

PSN: Where else might our readers access your music?

FM: They can find our new single All I Had on iTunes by simply searching for “Farai and The Forest Dawn’’— All I had. This includes all major online distributors like Amazon, GooglePlay, iHeart Radio, Spotify etc. We have also recently released a video for the single which is available on YouTube.

*Pamela is a Zimbabwean fashion journalist and fashion accessory designer based in the United Kingdom. She can be contacted on pamsamasuwo@live.co.uk

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