Shangaan electro – traditional Southern African music set to a frenetic beat – became a cult dancefloor hit in New York and European clubs this year. We track down the man behind it.
Nozinja lets out a huge belly laugh and rocks back in his black leather office chair. We are sitting in his small home studio – recently set
up by the Shangaan electro producer to avoid a daily commute to his main studio in Midlands, Soweto. Yellow-brown coloured soundproofing foam lines one wall and on top of a fridge sit a host of awards from Limpopo radio station, LMFM. They’re portents. Dated 2006, 2007 and 2008, the statues are from the years before the rest of the world discovered his music and propelled Nozinja to international recognition. Playing on two monitors above our heads are video clips of Nozinja and Tshetsha Boys. They are wowing audiences, first at Sonar, Barcelona’s trend-setting electronic music festival, and then Roskilde, Denmark’s legendary rock fest. This year Nozinja and his crew have played 13 headline shows across eight central European countries and, although he has only been home for a couple of months, Nozinja’s ready for more. Plans for a further European tour are under way.
Clearly his international record deal with London label Honest Jon’s is paying dividends. His star dance posse, Tshetsha Boys, not only receive rave reviews wherever they go, but they’ve also shifted over 600 CDs and 300 cassettes that Nozinja had taken with him on tour. Then there’s the numerous CDs, vinyls and downloads that Honest Jon’s has been selling in its west London store and through its website. From up here it’s a long way down to Nozinja Productions’ humble beginnings. And it’s a situation Nozinja is only too well aware of. Along with that big smile are two feet still firmly planted in the red Limpopo dust. Richard ‘Nozinja’ Mthethwa, aka Dog, is the 41-year-old record producer and reluctant recording artist whose label is credited with revolutionising the sounds of Shangaan music.
Read the full story in November's issue of The Red Bulletin.