SA Musician Zakes Bantwini. Picture: Facebook
I have always known Zakes Bantwini to be a good musician. However, after attending a private listening session for his new album, I left with a newfound respect for him. He is a great musician and boy does he know how to start a party and keep it going.

Bantwini held his listening session at Durban’s premier rooftop lounge Twenty5 to launch Love, Light & Music 2, an album he has been working on since late last year and released independently under his own stable, Mayonie Productions. With a strict black tie dress code, the event was attended by some of Durban’s biggest celebrities and socialites.

Bantwini has long been known for his club bangers and collaborations with some of the biggest stars in the industry. One of his biggest hits, Clap Your Hands, which he released in 2012, will always be a song that people clap their hands to, but Love, Light & Music 2 signals a new direction for the producer and singer.

EXCLUSIVE: Black Coffee bags radio gig on Beats 1

“I actually started putting this album together back in 2014, but I could not focus on it because I was still working at Sony, so I would work on it in my free time. That is why it took more than two years.In fact, I only started focusing on it completely after I decided not to renew my contract at Sony,” Bantwini said.

He added that many things inspired the album. “This album is inspired by life, to be honest; just by the things we go through and, for me, it’s also about where I am in my life at the moment. I am not a young boy anymore. I am a married man now, I am much more mature. I know better now and that’s what this album symbolises, that’s what it was inspired by.

“When it came to the creative process with this album, for me it was all about the sound first - like, the actual music, then I focused on the lyrics later. It’s extremely driven by instruments and the instruments are actually recorded live.

“This is a dance album and dance is electronic, so creatively there needed to be a balance in the songs sounding authentically dance, but also have the elements of the instruments,” he said.

Bantwini also features Hugh Masekela in a collaboration that he says was a blessing. “I went to see DJ Maphorisa because we were going to work in the studio together on a song for the album. I then heard a song he did with Bra Hugh and, as soon as I heard it, I wanted it. So I called Bra Hugh and he agreed and all I needed to do was add my lyrics to it. It’s a blessing to have on this album - I am really honoured,” he said.

For Bantwini, this album is about not conforming. “Firstly with this album there was no pressure with release dates, so I could take my time with it and make sure it was exactly what I wanted.

“For the past year, genres like hip hop have been huge in South Africa and I think a lot of musicians are tempted to go with whatever is trending and incorporate that into their music. I think this album is completely dance and it’s true to itself,” he said.