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Behind Nakhane Touré‘s Robust Return

Roughly around this time two years ago our radar was set ablaze with the dazzling talents of Nakhane Touré, then the new singer/songwriter on the block substantiating the theory that the Eastern Cape turns out South Africa’s best ones. Today he has a guest feature with House maverick Black Coffee on one of S.A’s biggest songs of 2015, a debut novel hot off the presses, an award-winning first album and a new EP on the way.  It’s clear that Nakhane is firmly on the path to create a league that is his own, and which transcends mere geography in its delineation.

As he did with Touré’s ground-breaking debut video Fog, Mark Middlewick takes his place behind the cameras to direct this new one which premiered on Apple Music. Inspired by David Lynch’s surrealism, it signals the forth-coming EP The Laughing Son. After the jump Nakhane speaks to AFRIPOP! about faith, identity and inspiration.

Back in 2013 Lloyd Gedye likened you to a young David Bowie á la Ziggy Stardust. What do you think of this comparison? 
I’ve never quite liked that Ziggy Stardust album. Of that period, I prefer Hunky Dory. All my friends who like Bowie always praise it, but I just couldn’t find an entry point. I just found it annoying. I like cokehead Bowie in Berlin: Low, “Heroes”, Lodger. But it’s Bowie, so the comparison is welcome…always. He is definitely one of my heroes. He was fearless and incredibly talented and driven.

For those who don’t know your sound how would you best describe it?  

This is the difficult one. By now I should be able to answer it instantaneously. I grew up and understood my musicality around choral music, so that is always prevalent in my music. My mother only had soul music in our house: Marvin Gaye, The O’Jays, Diana Ross; so that informed my understanding of pop music tremendously, especially Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear album. But when I was a teenager I wanted to have my own musical identity, so I visited MySpace and found ‘Indie’ music: Sigur Ros, Cat Power, Radiohead,The Smiths. And then it broadened into other music: Kate Bush, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Fiona Apple, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and those musicians always inspire me.

What advice would you give LGBTIAQ youth with a similar Christian background hoping to pursue a career in the music industry

I don’t know. They would have to play it by ear. It’s such a subjective matter, owing so much to people’s backgrounds and lives. For example: some people cannot give up their religion, I did.

How do you balance what you share as part of your work (which you’ve described as an extension of yourself) and what you’d like to keep to private?

A couple of days ago I did an interview, where the interviewer asked me to share with him what was the saddest day of my life. It was the first time I said “No. You’re not allowed in there.”

“Tell me about your  saddest day,” I said.  It’s taken a while for me to understand that I do not need to share everything. At the moment, it’s basic: what I have written about, we can talk about. But if I have kept quiet about a certain subject that means I don’t want to share it. Deliberately.

Your novel Piggy Boy’s Blues came out this past September. Was there any music or literature in particular that inspired your writing process?

Oh my god, so much! Here comes the list! The Immoralist by Andre Gide; The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin; Heart of Redness by Zakes Mda; A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood; All Don Delillo books I have read; We The Animals by Justin Torres; The Old Testament; The Quiet Violence of Dreams by Sello Duiker

When I was rewriting the novel I was away from my hard drives and usual music, so I only took with me what would inspire me: Hairless Toys by Roisin Murphy; Carrie and Lowell by Sufjan Stevens; Real Life by Joan As Police Woman…

A friend of mine also lent me a camera, which I used to photograph myself. The cover of Piggy Boy’s Blues is actually a photograph of me in my uncle’s house in East London.

Writing a novel and dropping a new album seems like an arduous task requiring Herculean effort. How did you manage the transition from recording artist to writer?

I left Johannesburg. I knew for certain that I would not meet deadlines, or write a book as good as I could if I stayed in the city. It was simple: Leave. Turn everything off and get to work. I arrived in East London and got to work as soon as I finished breakfast.

Piggy Boy’s Blues is published by Jacana Media imprint, BlackBird Books.

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