Over the past few months, Grammy Award winner Nomcebo Zikode has been quietly grooming one of the most exciting young prospects in South African music, Sykes, through her record label Emazulwini Productions.
This year alone, Sykes has had a hand on two of the hottest songs of the year - his hit solo single ‘Sisekakeni Babies’ and his collaboration alongside Dlala Thukzin, ‘iPlan’.
“I am honestly humbled and blessed to have two songs do really well for me,” shared the 23-year-old.
“This is my first year as a professional artist, and the successes I have managed to get have motivated me to continue building my name.
“What I'm really hoping for is for ‘iPlan’ to land song of the year. It's going to be a game-changer for me and I appreciate all the support I've received so far.”
He also added that we can expect more music, more visuals and more exciting content.
“I have an EP dropping this Friday called ‘Most Wanted’, which showcases my versatility and what I have to offer. I think that's enough content for 2023.
“I look forward to continuing the progress in 2024, and I'm also looking into doing some collaborations to get my name out there.
“All in all, I'm doing everything I can to get the Sykes brand to the top, and I feel more confident because I have an amazing team, and an amazing mentor (Nomcebo Zikode), who is keen to see me thrive. I want to be a household name someday, so it's onwards and upwards for me from here.”
Zikode, who’s still building her label and finding her feet, also shared with us what she feels makes Sykes so special and what drew her to him.
“When I started my recording label, Emazulwini Productions, I was eager to find talent that is aligned with me in terms of musical direction,” said Zikode.
The ‘Jerusalema’ vocalist also shared how Sykes’ versatility is what amazed her the most.
“I am someone who believes in talent, but I felt that most new artists are more focussed on appeal than the craft itself,” she continued.
“When my partner and I discovered him, we were excited by the fact that, for once, here is someone who actually plays keys, who actually sings, and sounds good.
“He's an unpolished diamond that I am eager to assist, and I hope he can use his gifts to inspire the world as I hope I have.”
As Zikode juggles both her busy solo career and managing her record label, she’s been finding different ways to run her business and support Sykes at this early point in his career. “Unlike your typical recording label, I am big on investing in Sykes as a person,” she said.
“We are providing label services for him to grow his brand and distribute his music, but I also intend to provide insights and mentorship from my own journey, and help him navigate this big bad wolf we call the music industry.
“I aim to develop his brand and support his releases, while making sure he remains focussed on his goals, and get him to a point where he has the capacity to take care of himself and his family, especially in the long run.”
In terms of how big she thinks Sykes can become one day, Zikode explained, “You commonly see an emerging act debut with a chart-topping release, fresh out of going viral on TikTok. But you don't see the same artist consecutively deliver banger after banger.
“His transition from outing with ‘Sisekakeni Babies’ to potentially landing a song of the year with ‘iPlan’ has impressed me and I believe, with his level of artistry, he is not far off from breaking into the global territory.
“He's so young and eager, and I think he has what it takes to become one of our biggest exports.”