Lakota Silva – a musical nerd
01 January 1970
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live. It’s good to have you with us. Time to chat some more music and we’re joined by yet another fantastic South African artist, up and coming she’s doing some amazing things and what a pleasure to welcome onto the show today Lakota Silva. Lakota welcome, nice to catch up.
Lakota Silva: Thank you so much for an intro like that. I definitely feel welcome, thank you.
BB: No pressure, there we go. Let’s talk a little bit about you as a musician, and where it all started, you’re Cape Town based. You’re born and bred in Cape Town. You’ve grown up there.
BB: Was music always part of your life as a youngster and as a child
I was a musical nerd
LS: That’s a resounding yes. I was that cultural nerd and I didn’t actually realise that I was such a nerd until I realised I was spending every second I had in every band, every choir, every ensemble I could possibly. Then at school I even got the award for being the cultural person. Only afterwards did I realise that actually this is my life. This is actually, what I want to be doing for the rest of my life, so definitely yes. I’ve been involved since tiny.
BB: Was it like that for as long as you can remember? Can you remember part of your life where it hasn’t been like that?
LS: No absolutely not, like I walked on my birthday, turning one. My mum always told me that from little there was a programme called Living and Loving, and they had to choose a newborn out of the hospital, and they chose me. I was on the programme within a week of my life. There’s literally not a time that I can remember that I haven’t wanted to do this and I absolutely love it.
BB: Let’s talk about how you’ve developed that over the years. Singing has been a big part of it. With regards to musical instruments and playing, have you taken that up and has that come pretty, easily to you as well?
My voice is my instrument
LS: Yes, so the thing is with me is I’ve always used my voice as an instrument. I was very blessed in my school being, from young, and in my church and my school. Every environment I was in they had music sections where you could join the orchestra or the ensemble. You can be in a band, or you could join the choir.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t really afford for me to take any instrument up because that was always extra and we were raised by my mum, who’s a single mum with three children. I just kind of took the initiative, and I joined everything. I won’t necessarily say I was brilliant at everything but if it had music then I was there, so I did that at school level.
Then I was super blessed and I won a scholarship at high school level, to go and study dance, drama, arts and music as a subject in my high school, in my last years of schooling. I took it from doing what I could into studying it.
Then after that taking a gap year to suss out the industry here because obviously loving music, the industry is still a business. It is something you still need to learn about because if you need to make a living, you need to know the ropes, the ins and outs, and just being a musician is not actually enough.
I took a year to establish what that was. To see where I was going to go forward with that, and then I carried on studying live performance. I did the music on the side with my film degree for three years, and I’ve just done it my whole life. Now after my degree, I graduated, I flew myself to Durban, recorded a demo, and went to a record label and presented it to them and viola I’m here.
BB: I love that. You’ve obviously got a huge helping of hustle built into you. It’s just in your DNA. Do you think growing up in a single parent family, being the eldest of three siblings has sort of forced you to, not grow up quicker than you needed to, but into that responsibility role?
BB: Where if things are going to happen it’s up to me, I need to make things happen?
Not afraid to make my voice known
LS: Absolutely. I absolutely agree with you because at the time I’ve heard about those amazing stories. Avril Lavigne getting or following her path, and as a child those fantasies are very real. You do wish that upon your life. I would walk into certain markets and I’d sing at the top of my voice hoping someone would spot me.
My brothers would walk 10 isles down because they’d be super embarrassed. There was that element but it didn’t happen like that. I knew that this is what I wanted for my life and I knew that if this was going to be then I needed to work extremely hard because it wasn’t going to be given me.
I worked hard and I’m still working hard. The hustle is part of the process, and as long as you have amazing people to surround yourself with you can do it. You can do all things.
BB: You talk about hard work in the music industry, and often people look at big stars and they think it’s an overnight success, but they don’t really realise how much work goes into it, behind the scenes. Do you think that is maybe a downfall of the industry and if you look at reality TV shows, like Idols and The Voice, and that sort of thing that it almost leads people to believe that it’s a lot easier than what it actually is, to make it in this industry?
Hard work is the way to go
LS: Yes, well you see my view on these programmes is I think it’s an amazing platform for people. I love that we have that opportunity and I always say to people if you’re passionate about your art, or you are working on it currently. No matter at what level you’re at you’re giving some part of your life towards your art.
So I love the platforms that they’ve provided because sometimes life gets busy and then they still want to go into passion and they try it out. I always say that those programmes are amazing for people who haven’t been able to put the time and the effort into their art and their craft, and they want to give it a go. That’s an amazing platform for them.
I feel that if you weren’t passionate about it you wouldn’t be auditioning or going. There’s a reason you’re going to those auditions, if it’s not to be funny on TV, because you get those too. I love that being a platform however, having said that that is literally probably 1% of what the industry actually is. It is such a big business and it’s a big industry, and it’s a lot of work.
I would literally say, like now finally with my album out and being signed to a record label and working on my live show, I can finally do what I actually love to do, and it’s been two years of working towards getting to that point and that’s working on my live shows.
It’s a long process of sacrifice and work. Of working in other jobs to earn money to fund what you need to do because you need money to make money. You need money to invest in yourself because if you don’t invest in yourself, no one will.
It’s a lot of work and it takes a lot of sacrifice along the way but if you are passionate, the rewards will be worth it because you will end up loving what you’re doing and you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life. Some people don’t actually understand that it is a lot of work and a lot of hustle, and a lot grind.
It takes a few years before you even get noticed. This is my fourth year in the industry and I’m still classified as ‘new coming’ and I love that, but it is a long process. Just like anything, like getting your degree in law and doctorate it takes seven years to get there. It’s just like that in the music industry.
BB: Yes, I think you make a very, important point there Lakota as well. The word I take out of there is it’s a platform and I’m glad you mentioned other careers, like being a lawyer or being an accountant. At the end of the day, you put in the work, you get the piece of paper, but you still need to work.
BB: Even after that, you’ve got the piece of paper, you haven’t arrived, but that’s when the hard graft actually starts. A thing like Idols or ‘The Voice’ you see it so often where someone might win it, we’ve seen it here in South Africa particularly, who’ve won it and a year later people are asking who are they, they’ve never heard of them again.
LS: Where are they, yes?
BB: There’s no such thing as a free ride and there is lots of work to be done. You are doing that work right now and you’re starting to reap the rewards, which I think is absolutely, amazing. I want to touch on your album as well but what I’m going to do is I’m going to save that for another podcast, if that’s good with you.
LS: Okay that’s cool.
BB: I also know that you’ve done a bit of work with a duo that they exploded a few years ago, here in South Africa, and I want to touch on that as well but we’ll save that for next time. Lakota Silva, thank you so much for joining us today, here on Old Mutual Live. We look forward to catching up again soon.
LS: Thank you for having me.