Thaiwanda Thai opens up on career

HARARE - Bulawayo-born artiste-cum-producer Thaiwanda Thai has made a name for himself in South Africa largely due to the The Bangers and Mashups series — a compilation of reworked and retuned versions of some of top global hits.

Thaiwanda Thai, who holds a degree in branding communication specialising in art direction, also attracted attention in South Africa when he collaborated with DJ Radix on the hit Pretty Black Rose.

Recently the Daily News on Sunday’s Dakarai Mashava interviewed the South Africa-based Thaiwanda Thai after he toured 10 Zimbabwean urban centres with Tehn Diamond, Ammara Brown and rapper Simba Tagz.

Below are excerpts of the interview:

Q: Who is Thaiwanda Thai?

A: I am an artiste, producer, songwriter and composer born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe.

When I was in junior school I joined the choir and found my passion to be singing. In early high school, I formed a dance crew called Beatstreat with some friends — that was my introduction to entertainment.

In 2004, I moved to South Africa to further my studies and then joined another crew which later became known as Clinch Crew and that’s when I was exposed to the international entertainment scene.

We opened for acts the like of Missy Elliot, Pharrell, Snoop Dogg to Tinnie Tempa.

I used to edit music for the crew, so it was a fairly natural progression into production.

Later I met my mentor Mason Black who taught me the business behind music.

After completing my BA in Brand Communication in 2011, I decided to pursue music professionally.

I was fortunate to have my music heard and played by DJ Snake to meeting and having the opportunity to work with Brian Soko… as an artiste I have also been fortunate to perform and share the stage with acts like Rick Ross and J Cole.

In 2016, I met my current management Isio Africa and we intend to introduce what I term Afro-pop fusion and take the music to an international level.

Q: Which artistes in Zimbabwe and beyond inspired you to take up music?

A: I’ve always been into music since an early age listening to and inspired by local greats Roy and Royce, Oliver Mtukudzi, Simon Chimbetu, Leonard Dembo and international greats such as Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Ottis Redding, James Brown to the Motown movement Temptations Commodores.

My parents would make it a habit to always have music in the house and family trips…so at an early age I caught the music bug.

As a child I was always the one entertaining the aunties and uncles with stories and dancing at the family gatherings… my parents would say I was a natural entertainer.

Q: You appear better known in South Africa than in Zimbabwe. What are you doing to make your brand known in Zimbabwe?

A: In South Africa I would  say I have established myself as a brand known for releasing quality music regardless of who I work with.

I am looking to put in a lot of time investing my energy towards reaching out to the people back home and working with a lot of local talent.

I feel because of the time l have spent away I really feel it’s important to reconnect and really let people know back home what I am about and my intentions to represent Zimbabwe in the rest of Africa.

Q: How many songs and albums have you produced?

A: I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to produce and work with a number of artistes from across Africa.

I worked on albums for Zulu Boy, Slikour and Skwatta Kamp, Cassper Nyovest, Dj Sliqe, KLY and most recently Ycee. I also worked with Zeus, Melly Mel on my own project AALOOP.

Q: I understand you have collaborated with several artistes in South Africa. Who are they? Which songs have you featured on?

A: I have been fortunate to have worked in studio with a lot of amazing talent from Reason, Ricky Rick, Kwesta on Mercy alongside DJ Sliqe that was co-produced by Tweezy to Stilo Magolide, 2leestark, Priddy Ugly, KLY to producers Wichi 1080, Mr Kamera, Troy Picasso The Gobbla.

Out at the moment is Pretty Black Rose Butterfly and most recently Mercy which was nominated for a Metro FM 2017 Award as part of Injayam Vol 1 by Sliqe.

Q: Have you lined up any collaborations with Zimbabwean artistes?

A: I am very interested in collaborating with a lot of Zimbabwean artistes. Right now just focused on No Stress with my brother Tehn Diamond… looking to do more work with Simba Tagz and Ammara Brown. But I do have my ear to the streets and there is a lot of upcoming talent making waves so I’m very keen to get involved.

Q: Of the current crop of  Zimbabwean artistes, hip-hop ones in particular, who has impressed you the most?

A: I would have to say Tehn. He put out a solid body of work. I know I sound biased …In my opinion, i’d then say probably Takura, Asph, Karizzy, Mike Pymp, Tulk Munny, Mc Chita and Fluid. I’m also keen to work with a lot of producers out here like  Verseless, Reverb 7 and Oskid.

Q: What are you currently working on?

At the moment I am focused on putting out quality music so I will be releasing singles while I prepare my EP for release later this year.

The project I have out that I’m currently promoting is the Bangers And Mashups series.

I just released the fourth instalment where I have remixed songs that I enjoyed throughout the year where I’ve reproduced and re-sang the songs as a way to give those who support the music an opportunity to hear what I’ve been listening to and where I am with my sound and give them an idea of what they can expect from the singles to come.

Q: Where do you see your brand in the next two years?

A: I see myself touring a lot more around Zimbabwe and internationally. I also see myself being involved in various businesses and ventures outside of just music and growing my current businesses by researching various markets and reaching out to make Pan-African connections.

Q: How has it been like touring Zimbabwe with Tehn Diamond? How has your music been received?

A: It’s been a highlight of my career getting face to face with the people and getting feedback from everyone has been amazing.

It was an adventure to say the least. The music was well received in all the cities we stopped in… so with that it’s given me great confidence in releasing more music for Zimbabwe specifically.

Q: Any information that you think Zimbabweans should know?

A: They should know that I have plans to raise the Zimbabwe flag high internationally… am working on projects in Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria and Botswana.

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