Inspire The Mic: A Conversation With Adelle Nqeto

Inspire The Mic is all about local music industry creatives trailblazing a name for themselves with their team overseas: while always remembering home. The first artist we focus on and speak to Pretoria native, Adelle Nqeto, to get more insight into her life and art.

She has been performing live in the music scene since 2012 at festivals and venues all over South Africa as co-founder of Flint, Meet Spark with bandmate Josh Pretorius. Performing mostly solo since 2015, the newly Berlin-based, South African born singer-songwriter has been wowing audiences during her travels. Her mix of self-aware lyrics mixed with catchy grooves has helped propel her to inspiring heights in 2019. Fresh from releasing her 2nd EP in May called “Home”, performances in Germany with trailblazers such as Beatenberg & Cape Town’s Frances Clare, a feature in Bahrain on 2Seas Session with James Robb to performing all over SA — Adelle is going places. I had a chat with this exceptionally talented storyteller to find out more about her.

image of Adelle Nqeto
Image credit: Sune van Tonder & Susan van Tonder

Adelle, your music has taken you all over the world, which is your favorite city to perform in and what made it special?
I like playing in smaller cities, because of the anonymity and also the surprise of seeing who shows up to shows, and their response to the music. So, Halle in Germany was a surprise. But when I was home in May, we played an amazing show in Soweto, and actually, every time I’ve played there I’ve only had the best experience.

Congratulations on your latest release in May called “Home”. What was the creative process like compared to your first EP?
Thank you! This was vastly different. We tracked the trio (drums, bass, guitar) live on “Home” and I definitely think I had a clearer vision for this EP, and a sound in mind when creating it. I’d also been playing the songs with my band already, so there was definitely confidence going in that I didn’t have with “Lights”. I think “Lights” was a great training ground and that process helped me clarify how I wanted to record “Home” differently.

If you could choose one festival or music venue to perform at it would be…
This is so hard. But playing an NPR Tiny Desk Concert would be pretty great and my drummer James would be stoked.

Which solo artists or bands inspire your soul currently?
Tough question. I’m listening to Thom Yorke’s “Anima” quite a bit, Nils Frahm, all the different projects which Shabakah Hutchings is involved in and The Japanese House.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
I don’t know about EVER, but I know right now I’ve been reading some of Audre Lorde’s essays, and something she says has struck me quite strongly: “what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.”

When you were at school in Pretoria did you ever dream of being a musician or what did you think you would become? 
Yeah, I dreamed of being a musician since I was a child. I never thought it would be something I’d end up getting to do as a profession, I thought I’d end up being a lawyer, or a human rights activist or involved in social justice in some way.

The Berlin music scene looks like it’s on another level. What can we do better in South Africa to improve and get our scene to an international level?
I think diverse venues would help, but this is a long conversation that I think has a lot more to do with other social/economic factors. I also think that developing an appreciation for arts/culture from a young age is important.

image of Adelle Nqeto
Image credit: Sune van Tonder & Susan van Tonder

What does the rest of the year hold for you and do you have any goals you want to achieve in 2020?
I’m going to be going on tour in Italy in October and cannot wait to start writing and recording some more music. There’s a lot I’d like to achieve in 2020, I hope more touring is involved, as well as playing music with people I care about.

Follow Adelle Nqeto on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music.

image of Adelle Nqeto



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Llewelyn Screen Llewelyn Screen is a Cape Town based freelance music writer who is passionate about the underdogs, the up and comers and new age innovators pushing South African acoustic music to new heights.

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