Twenty-seven-year-old Phila Madlingozi is on time for our interview - a breath of fresh air.
He comfortably settles into the chair I offer him and intensely stares at his phone from which music playing loud enough for me to hear, despite thehead phones being connected.
Most people know Phila as Ringo Madlingozi’s son. Others that have paid attention may tell you about his role on Intersexions, but most remember him from the 11th season of the singing competition Idols SA.
Apart from always having to step out of the “being Ringo’s son” shadow, Phila has always been a rebel.
He and his siblings (and many cousins) all grew up in PE with his maternal grandmother.
His grandmother was a very respected figure in the community and was known for her strict ways. But half the time, Phila pulled “PK (pastor’s kids) stunts,” he says. He reckons that he was not necessarily a disrespectful rebel but rather he was just never one to conform.
“We were raised properly. My grandmother taught us how to live right,” he adds.
At age 14, Phila and the team (six of his siblings) moved up to Johannesburg to live with their father, Ringo.
He says, “When I was younger, I hardly ever saw my dad. So when they said we moving in with him, we were happy. Plus, even though we went to boarding school, we were now living in the ‘burbs’ (suburbs).”
Moving to Johannesburg nurtured the rebellious artist in him. After high school he went to study film, but later dropped out after he got one of the lead roles in Intersexions during his second year.
He says he is always asked if he thinks he will ever live up to his father’s success. To which he answers, “I will be bigger than my father.”
He adds: “You can build anything on a solid foundation, and I have the best foundation ever - especially when it comes to music. Despite the good genes, I have my father and my cousin MXO who have done amazing things in music.”
He says his plan is to put SA on the map again, the way the old folk did.
“I am referring to people like my dad, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Hugh Masekela and many others,” he says.
He recentely signed to a record label, after waiting for an offer since being booted off Idols in 2015.
He says making his own music has been an interesting journey and believes the results will finally make people understand why he says he will be better than his father.
“The difficult part of my journey, has to be that people already decided how I should sound, because I am Ringo’s son. But I plan on making my own mark and I will undo people’s pre-concieved perceptions of ‘music by Phila’,” he says.
“I am still introducing people to my different styles. I do everything from hip hop, soul, R&B, house to Gospel and almost everything in between.”
He explains that he does not want to be boxed in as an artist and believes no one should be reduced to being just “one” thing.
People must expect his album as early as next year and his single - which he says is especially made for the ladies - as soon as next month.