We catch up with Blxckie after a successful year and find out where his head’s at. “I have no competition ‘cause I studied enough to find a gap that I can only fit into and I can only do the things I do on songs or just as a character in general,” says Somnyama.
“I’m a student of the game so I always see myself as being at the right place at the right time.”
What is the music you remember when growing up, the first tracks that touched your soul and let you discover the power of music?
I listened to a lot of soul, deep house and R&B when I was young. It was played around the house, my bigger brother and so on. That’s what I gravitated to first.
How old were you when you started making music and how did that come about?
I was about 7 or 8 when I started making music. My neighbour had Fruity Loops so, I would make beats on that. But it came about because I couldn’t speak English properly, so I started reading a lot to improve. Then that lead to me doing poetry, then fast poetry lead to rapping.
You sing and rap – please tell us about the freedom and opportunities that rapping provides versus the freedom and opportunities that singing provides in terms of expressing a full rainbow of emotions?
I don’t really look at them differently. I just do what the beat tells me to do. If it wants me to sing then I do, if it wants me to rap then I do. I make the song on the spot as I hear the beat, so that determines whether I sing/rap. I don’t plan it ahead of hearing the beat or hearing a sound in my mind and building on that. I go with the flow.
How do you perceive yourself and your art and how has this been changing over the years?
I’m a student of the game, so I always see myself as being at the right place at the right time. I have no competition ’cause I studied enough to find a gap that I can only fit into and I can only do the things I do on songs or just as a character in general. I guess, over the years the platform I have and the number of people I’m talking to gets a little bigger, so I have to adjust to that, I’m also always looking to improve my skills as an artist, so I explore different techniques and learn things often just to impress myself.
What sparks your creativity and how do you ensure that the well of inspiration is never dry?
There are a few places I’ve grabbed inspiration from to inform my choices on what type of artist I want to be, but, at the end of the day, people always gravitate towards someone they can relate to, and the easiest way I’ve been able to do that is just being real. Telling real stories in my music, showing real growth in my style and lifestyle so that people understand me better. I wouldn’t say it’s a strategy anymore ’cause it’s just normal life.
Your music videos are strong. Who is your team and take us through the process of matching the visuals of a video to the lyrics and mood of a song?
I use a couple of people to shoot the videos, but often I am with Ntando and we make the videos with him. Again, there’s no process as such. It’s just about coming up with great ideas that push the bar and still stay true to who I am at that specific time.
Music videos often show artists around a pool, drinking and dancing, or cruising in their latest rides, essentially having all kinds of fun, but how important is a work ethic in the music industry and what motivates you to do the hard yards?
For me, work ethic is everything. I wake up early and get into studio. As a musician, you are a businessman, so you have to get up and go to work. I can do the other things, chill, dance, enjoy, but it’s important to stay working.
You have received a lot of love from fans, especially on Apple Music and their playlists – do you track this kind of thing and how does it impact you in terms of inspiring you to continue the hard work?
In my mind, I have achieved a commendable amount of success. I dreamed about all of this for a long time and to see it all come to life is my idea of success, in the same breath, there’s still a lot I dream about that hasn’t come to life yet but I know it will.
Would you say you are successful and how do you measure success – a gold record, over 1-million views on YouTube, tpping the charts on Apple Music, winning at the SA Music Awards, or is it something more than this?
I’m always on my phone. I’m always checking how far I’ve come, I’m always checking what people say about me, I really don’t miss a thing. It’s not really a big part of what inspires me to do my work, though ‘cause I’ve learned not to take anything on my phone seriously, even stats. I think I just use that information to mark my achievements and make checkpoints.
“I like neutral colours and trustworthy combos”
When you think of your style, music and lifestyle, what comes to mind?
I just really enjoy making music. I like the process of having nothing and building that piece of art from scratch. I normally get inspired to do something after listening to some of my favourite artists but the best songs come out when I seclude myself from a lot of outside things and zone in on what I’m feeling or what I’ve seen people close to me feel.
What do you look for when it comes to clothing and sneakers?
I don’t really like going too crazy, I like neutral colours and trustworthy combos. For example, the sneakers have to match the shirt but, at the same time, white sneakers are always my go-to. So I have a lot of white shirts. The only time I can go a little left with the colours is if I’m wearing a two-piece, I feel like it only makes sense that way. White sneakers still.
What is your favourite item in your collection right now?
The Mayze sneakers are one of my all times favourites but right now I’m loving the new Slipstream.
What attracted you to partner with PUMA as a brand?
I am attracted to the product firstly. But I also like what they represent, and I feel like I relate to it, and them to me.
You are part of the PUMA Slipstream campaign which also features the likes of Neymar and Uncle Vinny. What does it mean to you to be part of this campaign? I’m a soccer fan, so you can only imagine what a milestone this is for me. To be selected just confirms the dream, that I will be legendary.
Originally Slipstream was an 80s’ basketball shoe, but it keeps coming back with new flavour, what do you like about the sneaker and your thoughts on its longevity and reinvention?
It’s clean, it’s classic. People always gravitate towards what represents them most of the time, and we all need a classic go-to in the wardrobe. It won’t go anywhere anytime soon!
PUMA Slipstream is for a new generation of streetwear and sneaker consumers. In what ways do represent this new generation?
I just speak my truth. I don’t think there’s a box I should fit into for my life. I think the new generation is fearless and their dreams are big
You put your university studies on “pause” – but what are your biggest learnings in the music industry so far and what areas of learning will you focus on going forward?
University is theory mostly. The industry is teaching me life, and I’m practicing what I’ve learnt. I wanna focus more on building my music thing into a long-term career and at the same time building and running a successful business.
It is relatively early days in your career, but do you ever sit back and consider what your would like your legacy to be in terms of the SA and global music industry?