South African singer, band leader, and flautist C’nky Siwela is creating a new musical concept by blending a contemporary mix of jazz influenced flute melodies and his soulful vocals into a House/Pop composition. Siwela’s musical stylings is showcased through his second studio album Another Side of Me out July 17th. The album is expected to be a viral sensation in both South African and international House/Dance music markets. The upcoming artist has already garnered considerable buzz in South Africa and is now venturing his market into the United States.
C’nky Siwiela was born on December 11, 1983 in Stinkwater, South Africa. C’nky was raised in a musical and spiritual family. His grandfather was a singer, flautist, and a pastor of an Evangelical Church. As a child, C’nky became very passionate about music, learning multiple instruments which led him to conducting a band, later in his life. C’nky recently shared his views with Jamsphere in an exclusive interview.
- How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started in the first place?
C’nky Siwela: I am from a musical family where my Grandfather was a flautist, singer and pastor. Music has always been part of me since birth. I joined Tsa Lapeng Music Initiative to study music formally. I started with a recorder, then a keyboard before finally settling for flute as my first instrument.
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
C’nky Siwela: My first influence was from my family; while I was young we used to sing a lot at home with my uncles and cousins. They are part of my musical foundation. Professionally, well-known South African classical music educationists Sir Michael Masote and wife Sheila Masote played an influential role in my life as a flautist.
- Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anyone of these that you’d like to collaborate with?
C’nky Siwela: As much as I love music in general, I listen to different genres, Currently I spend most of my time listening to Sam Smith, Avicii, Sia, Bobby McFerrin, David Guetta, Kirk Whalum, Afrojack, Aloe Blacc, Herby Mann, Hubert Laws, and would love to collaborate with David Guetta or John Legend.
- In Africa: Have you suffered any ‘resistance’ from within the industry, and if so how have you handled that, and how do you handle criticism and naysayers in general?
C’nky Siwela: I haven’t experience any resistances. I am too spiritual and my love for life and my belief in the mighty power of God keeps me strong. The environment that I came from has helped me to be a stronger and brave artist.
- What are your thoughts on visual media and YouTube? Do think that video is an appropriate marketing tool for your music, and do currently have videos fans can see?
C’nky Siwela: I believe visual media is key to artists nowadays. We are now in the era of digital age. So visual media provides a platform to relate better with fans. You can find my videos on www.cnkysiwela.com, https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=cnky+siwela
- Which do you ultimately prefer? Entertaining a live audience or creating songs in a studio environment?
C’nky Siwela: Honestly, I enjoy doing both but live performance is more real to me because I get to understand my fans well up close and personal and it helps me to grow more musically as an artist.
- Essentially how do you produce your sound? Is it loops, samples and software based or do you also use real live instruments?
C’nky Siwela: 80% of my music is software based. Starting or composing a song with no loops and samplings is what I believe in. I like to portray my art in my own way, and sometimes a song controls me whether it needs some live instruments like piano, guitar or drums or any other instrument.
8. Tell us more about your upcoming album, Another Side of Me.
C’nky Siwela: It has been a great journey working on my 13-track electro-pop album that I am sharing with the world about love, peace, joy, inspiration and humanity. The title “Another Side of Me” tells how I explore electronic music culture. I classify myself as a musician in general; I don’t belong or wish to remain tied to a specific genre.
- Which ingredient do you think makes you special and unique as a performing artist in a genre thriving with newcomers and wannabes?
C’nky Siwela: Fusing vocal Pop, House, Soul and South African folk songs with classical and Jazzy flute melodies that ultimately create a soulful electro music blend with elements of South African vibes and influences.
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to be a part of this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
C’nky Siwela: Joy and passion. As an artist all I want to do is to talk to the world to highlight what is happening in our African settlements – also to share love, peace and messages of inspiration through my music and songwriting.
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
C’nky Siwela: I feel excited doing music that all people can relate with, I am lucky to be associated with Down 2 Earth Musik who are my record label. I feel at home with all steps of the last year and process of recording and making a new set of songs for old and new fans to experience. Currently I am happy with the project and the progression of everything. No discouragement at all. #grateful
- How do you market and manage your music career? Do you have a management team or do you control everything by yourself?
C’nky Siwela: I manage with the help from my record company (Down2 Earth Musik), family and friends.
- How do you achieve your unique sound? Do you work exclusively in a private home recording environment or do you use a commercial sound studio too?
C’nky Siwela: I am using a commercial sound studio at Down2 Earth Musik Studios.
- The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
C’nky Siwela: Build healthy relationships and respect your fans for they are your success and the best advice that I didn’t listen to and I should have was to study for a degree majoring in Jazz Flute.
- How would you describe the current state of independent music in South Africa?
C’nky Siwela: During Apartheid, South Africa used to be musically starved. Independent music used to receive less coverage but after the dawn of democracy with Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, South Africa started to attract international music players and this created a platform for the growth and development of independent musicians. The internet also contributed to the success of music simultaneously. Artists such as Black Coffee and Gold Fish are testimonies to that.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
C’nky Siwela: Had I not marketed my songs through the internet this interview wouldn’t be possible. Yes it has its own mediocrities but sometimes a mediocre turns out to be a real person who needs quality music to become real and listened to.
- If any, what advantage do you think studying music has for aspiring artists?
C’nky Siwela: Talent and Skill is equal to more understanding.
- Would you be willing to permanently leave South Africa to further your musical career?
C’nky Siwela: Not permanently, my roots are in Africa and South Africa is my beginning and my End but I would be honored if I get the opportunity to further my music career in the USA with potential tour dates or licensing or nationwide PR opportunities.
- As you work your way through your career, which more than any other fires-up your imagination – A Grammy award, Platinum music sales or some other tangible milestone?
C’nky Siwela: A Grammy Award would be amazing and something I have dreamed about.
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do EVER, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
C’nky Siwela: The ONE thing that I’m not willing or prepared to do ever in my musical career is to not let my fans down as a musician and an artist. I am an artist who is going to keep my reputation intact by helping humanity evolve through the love of music.
Thank you for this opportunity and your interest with my music. My new digital album, “Another Side Of Me,” releases Friday July 17, 2015 and available on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby. For more information on me, go to: http://www.cnkysiwela.com.