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Pilani Bubu speaks about her new album

Singer Pilani Bubu. Picture: Instagram

Singer Pilani Bubu. Picture: Instagram

Published Apr 4, 2020


Singer, songwriter and TV presenter, Pilani Bubu is a multifarious artist who has independently released three albums titled "Journey of the Heart", "Warrior of Light" and the latest offering and newly launched "Folklore: Chapter 1" with radio singles such as "Boom Che" and "Baile".

When did you start working on this album?

The project came about in 2015 when I was travelling back to New Orleans (US) for my yearly music trip. I wanted to capture more African Folk music . 

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I recorded a vocal demo of the music and shared it April of that year. Then the ideas lived on my soundcloud and website, as I looked for collaborators and a perfect opportunity to flesh them out. I started performing the music with my band and writing more songs like: "Boom Che" and "Baile".

In 2018 I started recording, starting with the radio singles: Boom Che released in August on Women’s Month and in Baile in December of the same year, released during 16 days of Activism for violence against women and children – as the songs were written as my response to celebrating women and acting against domestic violence.

Later that year, the instrumentals were laid down for the songs and all that was left was for me and the bass artist and co-producer Bheka Mthethwa and I to lay the voices. In 2019, I then went into studio to start editing all the instrumental work, add some colour and all my voices on the project. And in November, I finally let go of my self-doubt and oohing and aah’ring and let it be shared with the world.

What were some of the things that inspired it?

From the time I released my first music project in 2012, I started doing solo shows while travelling. I added to my repertoire African folk songs because the people demanded it of me. Or they saw it in me and I had some to share.

I grew up being around traditional songs in my culture, what I had forgotten was how much I loved that music and how intelligent and rich it was. As I performed it, I fell more and more in love. I had to look within and look back…It was a beautiful inspired process of embracing my identity and sharing it with the world. It was like unearthing my blue print.

Before going into studio, did you know exactly what you wanted the end result to be and did you achieve that?

From the demo developed in 2015, till 2019, it was a 4 year organic period of allowing the music to grow within me and with my band members as we performed it. 

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It reconnected me with amazing roots musicians like Billy Monama who played most of the crucial guitars on the music and Bheka Mthethwa who understood the genre influences from his roots in KZN. My childhood experiences and their passion for the music really inspired the output.

How would you describe the sound of this album? Is it genre specific?

In broad terms, it is a contemporary folk-soul album. Deeply rooted in traditional folk music that we have evolved and interpreted into a fusion of other modern sounds like neo and acoustic soul, funk, blues and jazz.

What do you hope this album achieves for you?

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The album is only the beginning or proof of concept (as I call it) of a bigger idea I am seeding and working on. The project "Folklore" is a community culture and heritage project where beyond the technology of music, I in collaboration with as many people as I can, will capture folkloric content in a documentary format as audio, visual, literature.

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