MXO – offering music lovers a broad spectrum
09 September 2015
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Welcome back to Old Mutual Live Radio. I am your host Aphiwe Manono and we are still in conversation with South African singer, musician and songwriter, Mxolisi Lokwe. Now MXO, we just spoke, we were just speaking about how you had just found your way to the City of Gold.
You were in this hive of activity where the South African music industry was booming. Earlier on you had mentioned that uRingo Madlingozi played an influential role in your musical career. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Mxolisi Lokwe: Yeah, you know the influence was one of those of saying MX, I can hear you know, the influence of the American culture so; but why don’t you turn it around and celebrate what we have here in South Africa because our culture is really rich and our heritage.
So you know that was a bigger part of the influence and hassle of where to hassle you know, how you do the network and all the stuff so he was really a big influence on how to preserve my vocal and you know and the recording, the writing and all of those stuff so yeah.
He was a really big part of my influence on my musical journey. That’s why he’s always going to be one person I’ll ways respect and admire because of the opportunities on that and mentoring me to that level and that’s why I guess now we’re giving back and doing the same thing to the upcoming kids, yeah.
AU: Now you also spoke about Sliq Angel. You two have formed the innovative duo, Roots 2000 resulting in a series of performances at venues like Club 206, Woodstock, Arts Alive, Oppikoppi, Bassline. What is this project about and I hear a lot of people are talking about it but just take us through what you and Sliq are about.
Sliq Angel and I form a great partnership
MXO: Yeah, this project was, it started at the beginning of the millennium and the influence was a way of jamming. We never planned to form a group or a duo, me and Sliq. We just by public demand of what they say you know from Tribal Connection, Monday Blues and all those other sessions so now we’ve never released anything, we never recorded anything. Actually we did record an EP. We did a couple of events like Oppikoppi, you know all these hippy and bohemian crowds.
AU: Ja, I’m listening. I just don’t want to interrupt you, sorry.
MXO: Oh ja and then ja so yeah man we and then now after our solo careers you know maybe like 13 years or so we decided just this one event. Then from that event it was so successful that you know and we feel like there’s still a big gap for the project from the public demand, from the social media.
The excitement and the anticipation has been really huge and it’s been a success too so we’re busy working on it and we’ve done already some major events. We’re getting bookings from your people, from everywhere now so it’s a blessing at the same time.
I suppose it came whilst I was working on my solo project and Sliq was working on his project so we just have to find a way to synchronise both the projects, our solos and the Roots 2000 but this is where we started from. So I guess God is just giving us a hand of blessing and say, hey, we gave it direction. For sure, this is going to pave the way for a day of success on the solos too because we did it indirectly before.
We started as Roots 2000 but we have never officially released anything, when you know, especially the commercial, the masses knew about Roots 2000. It was just like a small community so now it’s an opportunity for us to showcase around the world. Both me and Sliq as solo artists will travel, we have a fair share of travelling around the world. So now bringing two artists together, I think is a great message and we’re looking forward to it even now.
We have a big meeting at Bassline, which I put together a big event so we can shoot the DVD and we’re planning on shooting a reality TV show because really we’re different people. So I think it’s going to bring another different angle when people are seeing it visually so I’ve been into film now. That’s my other interest.
With these years I’ve grown to love film and I’ve started my company, a multimedia company called EMlog Productions. What we do there, we do like you know, music and then we do film and we do movies, we do ja, all that other vibes that involves that. The main thing, we’re still experimenting here.
AU: All right, now fast forward to 2003. This is where I came about to know about you. I would like to think that before this period, I like in my head, I always say this is probably the stage where you were still an underground cat if you know what I mean. before Simphiwe Dana and them blew up, you were still just, you know, the streets knew you, the people on the streets. Like the people that followed the street culture knew about you.
But it was really in 2003 when you released your first full length album, Peace of Mind, featuring the likes of Zandibone, Nomaliso and Nina and the album’s resounding success so you travel and perform overseas. You were just talking about this. I mean, including France, Switzerland, Japan, China.
How did all of this make you feel like when you can, I think it’s a different feeling when you cater and you make music for your own people? But once people from abroad start saying hey, who is this and start taking notice of you? It must be an astounding feeling. Just take me through the release of Peace of Mind and what that album meant for you and correct me if I’m wrong. I’d like to say that this is the album that created MXO.
About more than just Peace of Mind
MXO: Most people like you, they always say, I mean, after Peace of Mind I’ve had couple of projects. I’ve had Mixed Tapes, I’m Into Count, I’ve had MX Funk, I have Sounds Emotion, I got MX Evolution, I got MX and the Peppercorns, I got the Project. You know before even what’s the style, the Project you know, we had that concept before and we’ve been working and you know.
What has stuck in people’s mind is the Peace of Mind and I always say thanks for people who has allowed me to grow and expand still be the experimental MXO I used to be even now. So you know it’s just appreciation and we grow from a seed to a tree man. We’re building.
AU: Hmm but take me through the, okay I know that you’re talking, you’ve spoken about the other albums that you’ve done besides Peace of Mind. But I mean just the song writing in that album, it was something fresh and something new, something.
I was surprised that you were singing and mostly vernacular but it just was so catchy and it was so soulful. What were the processes and who did you work with or who do you like working with when you want to create sounds like that?
MXO: Ja the end out of the project was put together by me and DJ Blaze and we worked with Afrika Mkhize so we really wanted like a different sound with all my influences and my sound. I wanted to put them together and I guess that’s why they influenced on writing skills and the arrangements and the draught and you know, the thumping of the base and everything altogether. You know it’s like, it was really an experimental project and yeah, that’s when the back of everything came from then.
AU: I am. You are.
MXO: Whatever, there make sure in my mind is like so full of things and then we have enough time, I wish we have enough time.
AU: No, I’m quite happy with all of this, so ja, so it was just two –
MXO: An amazing journey.
AU: Hmm, it was just two brilliant minds coming together.
MXO: Yes, just two brilliant minds coming together and I guess it’s the other influence because after Flick that was working on this project, I went back to school. Because I went back to Musica and I worked there at Musica so you must understand the other influences with me working with music with all these kinds of music, you know all this catalogue.
Different kinds of stuff, the Coldplay was coming out then and you know the Louis Armstrong and some stuff I’ve never heard before in my life. I guess that’s why, you know how Peace of Mind was conceived of the influences around that era in the time and the music.