Introducing Zani Sizani: Rising Port Elizabeth Born Singer-Songwriter Shaping The Next Urban Soul Sound
In South Africa, Port Elizabeth is known as the windy city — a beautiful coastal city known for its breathtaking scenery, friendly inhabitants and a great culture for the arts. Unbeknownst to most, Port Elizabeth has a thriving music scene which is built on genuine connections, creative excellence and a culture of nurturing positive energy to grow the local scene. And because of that, the level at which the talent that comes out of the city moves is similar to that of artists that are either born or based in bigger cities in South Africa such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. This talent manifests itself in many different art forms and in music — this talent can be found executing its flair and prowess in different genres, capturing the hearts of passionate music lovers as they fulfill their purpose.
Port Elizabeth born and bred artist, Zani Sizani, is a diamond ready to take the world on by storm. Over the last few years; Zani has grown more confident as an artist, finding her voice as a musician whilst a juggling her architecture studies with music — making her story evermore interesting and fascinating. Now having completed her studies, she is ready to soar in the international arena with her modern approach to songwriting which allows her to craft songs that carry themes that could be understood and unpacked by anyone music lover in the world. Her craft moves beyond borders and is not limited by location or demographics.
We got a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a Q&A with the budding musician with a great future ahead of her. Check it out.
Your Twitter bio says that you are a singer, a band member and an architecture student. Expanding your description on your bio, how else would you describe Zani Sizani?
Well, I’m born and raised in Port Elizabeth and I have a very strong love and passion for music. I’ve grown up with strong musical ties my whole life, gravitating to the music my parents used to play on road trips growing up. I’d always had a secret passion for singing and I’d always wanted to explore it, but I had to follow the path set for me of going to varsity and finishing my architectural degree before I could.
I love art in all forms and I’ve been a sketch artist since the day I was able to write. I enjoy expressing myself through all mediums of art; be it singing, painting, sketching, architecture or digital art.
Every artist has a unique story about that one moment where they realized that they have an innate need to express themselves through music and connect with people. What sparked your love for music?
I’d already been recording music, as a hobby, in my second year of varsity with my friend but that wasn’t really manifesting into anything tangible, so I’d decided to drop the sessions and focus more on school. That was what I did until I bumped into a friend at a party and he asked me to record on a beat he made. I went, we recorded, and I kept going to record until the day I met my band members. We decided to form a band that day, by the end of the week we had a gig and we haven’t stopped performing since. It wasn’t until my 5th gig that I realised how in love with performing I was.
You are based in Port Elizabeth. What can you tell us about the music scene in your city? Like the one thing that you’d love people to know about the PE music scene?
What I’d love for people to know about the PE music scene is that it’s extremely diverse and rich. Musicians in PE are truly gifted and consumed by the art form. I’ve met young quantity surveys and architects would double as full-time performers. We have high quality, highly talented jazz musicians and some of the best afro soul bands I’ve ever heard. It’s easy to be discouraged when there aren’t any opportunities around and when there aren’t any paying gigs, but we have our musical havens that we, as artists, form and share music at. It’s what keeps the musical spark alive.
Many artists in South Africa are often told or forced to move to bigger cities like Johannesburg or Cape Town for their careers to thrive. Are you also pressured by that? Provided that you had an opportunity to relocate for your music career, where would you go and why?
That is a choice we’re faced with when we decide to become full-time musicians and I have decided that moving would be the best decision for my personal growth. Especially since I’ve spent my whole life in PE. Fortunately, my family lives in Germany so I’m moving that side on the 20th of January to work as an architect and push my music career.
Let’s speak about your efforts in music. You’re part of a band called ZA’frotronixx. Can tell us a little bit more about it and how it started?
ZA’frotronixx is a band made up of 3 brothers (who go by Afrotronixx) from The Ivory Coast and myself. Our music is a fusion of afrobeat, house, R&B, hip hop and afro pop. I’m the vocalist and the brothers produce the music as well as play the bass, keyboard and drums. We started very randomly after meeting at a recording session I was at. We decided to form a band and had a gig 2 days later. We combined Zani with Afrotronixx to form ZA’frotronixx and we haven’t stopped performing since.
With regards to ZA’frotronixx, what can people expect in the near future?
We are releasing all the music we’ve made over the past 2 years and releasing visual content as well. I’m very excited to push our content in 2019.
On the 11th of January you released Started, your debut project. Who did you work with on this project?
I worked with my band, a local producer named Arno Steez (who’s also making a name for himself) and a local beat maker named Reynold King who’s had his mixes featured on Superbalist and GQ magazine.
What inspired the creation of Started? Please give us a little insight on the creative process of producing your debut.
I released an EP on Soundcloud called “Starter” in 2017 and my friend suggested I title my debut album “Started” because I was no longer a starter, I’d started. I thought it was the best way to describe my journey.
The music is a compilation of what I consider to be the best music I’ve made over the past 3 years of recording. Most of the songs were written on a random day after someone had sent me a beat and I’d been inspired by whatever situation I’d been through. I’d write something then drive over to Arno or my bands place to work on it and record.
What can we expect from you this year?
I’m planning on releasing visual content for my project and I’m also working on a project with a few beat makers that I’m planning on recording in Berlin.
As a relatively new artist that is working on breaking out, what do you want to see more of in our local music industry?
I’d love to see the mainstream industry be open to new and different artists who don’t make music that typically plays on Trace or the radio. I feel that there is a market for diversifying the music that is typically produced and I’d love to see that shown more on mainstream media.
In closing, where can people follow you online?
You can find me on all platforms of social media by searching @zanisizani and you can find all details about my band on Facebook by searching @Zafrotronixx.
Stream Started on Apple Music below.