Meet Black With White Stripes: Zimbabwean Born Duo With A Diverse International Sound
Black With White Stripes is a two-man group founded by brothers, Nkosilathi Dube and Thamsanqa Dube. Born in Zimbabwe, the two brothers have; over the years, positioned themselves as innovators that are designing and crafting the new African sound — a sound which the two brothers developed as a result of a deep-rooted love for music. With a family that helped them nurture their talents, the duo has gone into the music game with sheer confidence, certainty and drive; allowing them to break through in different markets in the world.
Having lived in a number of cities such as Maputo, Johannesburg, Dubai and now Cape Town, Black With White Stripes has adopted an artistic approach which allows them to be easily influenced by their surroundings and to be more open to embracing other cultures. This is also seen in their willingness to fuse different sounds from different regions of the world, such as jazz, neo-soul, hip and afro-pop. We recently caught up with them to get more insight into who they are, their music and their future plans.
What is the origin of the name Black with White Stripes? What significance does it have in your journey in music?
The name is a spin on our last name which translates to Zebra, an animal we often argue is black with white stripes. The name always reminds us to remain unique in the ways we earn our stripes as musicians, because like all Zebras their stripes are different.
What are some of earliest and fondest music-related memories which you can say sparked your love and interest in music?
Our mother was a musician and she sang all the time. We remember every morning we would hear her singing and we would often find ourselves singing along. Before we knew it we were making music of our own. From Nkosi playing keys to me and Wammy producing.
Seeing that you are dynamic and gifted artists who happen to be brothers, what inspired you guys to make music together rather than taking the solo route?
Nkosi: We had started working on music on our own and with that we were picking up uniques skills but when we worked on something together we found that would be create something we wouldn’t have been able to as individuals. Our dad came up with the idea for us to try something together initially because I was playing and learning several instruments while Wammy was learning how to engineer songs, mix them and produce. Fortunately our dad’s vision worked out because our skills complimented each other.
Your sound is very unique as it is a fusion of the new and the old. When it comes to creating music, who are some of your inspirations? The people who constantly inspire you to push boundaries.
Cory Henry, J Dilla, Robert Glasper, Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell Williams, Leon Bridges and Quincy Jones. The list is really long but those are definitely the most influential.
Let’s talk about your creative process for a minute. If I were to sit in on one of your sessions, what can I expect to see or hear?
Lots of freestyling and joking around to the ideas we might have. Most of the songs we have made have started where we have a loop going in the session or a random sample and we just say what comes to mind first. We make sure we are as comfortable as possible so we can create what feels right. Then we hype each other up when we start writing and exchanging ideas before recording them. On rare occasions we might create a beat separately and send them to each other but even then the writing process is in the same space.
How much do your surroundings influence your creative process? You guys have lived in different cities and you’re now based in Cape Town. Does location have an impact in how you create?
Yes it does because the music we make is dependent on our lives. Where we are often impacts our lives positively and negatively. From people we meet to sunsets in a city. Which is why we push to travel as often as we can to learn from other cultures and reflect on how those cultures influence us.
What is your view on collaboration? For Black With White Stripes to exist, collaboration has to happen. How often do you guys leave your comfort zone to collaborate with other artists?
Collaboration is important we are a result of collaborating and like when we decided to work together we brought different skills. Often we keep an eye out for other artists we could work with. Sometimes that works out and sometimes it doesn’t.
What can we expect from you music-wise? Are you guys dropping any new music soon?
Yes you can expect plenty of new music. We have been working every single day since releasing ‘Bad lil Vibe’.
What can people expect from you guys this year?
New music and for the people that have known us or are getting to know us, plenty of growth as artists.
Where can we connect with you online?
On Instagram we’re @blackwith_whitestripes and on Twitter we’re @BlackwWhiteS.