A – Interviews : Home Grown Africa [Malawi]

 

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After following their moves for such a long time (2 years seems like forever; within 2 years, Jesus was crucified and ressurected twice, the sun rose and dawned 730 fucking times. I feel old), we finally managed to get this interview with Blantyre’s pride and Malawi’s very own HGA. Tis couldn’t have come at any better a moment, seeing as the boys just dropped their first EP, Blantyre Blues. It’s always a pleasure knowing what goes on behind the scene, before you finally get to hear the music on your radios and watch your favorite acts performing. So hear we go, an introduction to Home Grown Africa, by All Around Africa! 

Let’s start this from home, as in, it’s Home grown, right? How did you two decide to work as team and form a group?

[Hayze Engola]

The decision wasn’t ours. It just sort of happened.

(Short and direct answers?) Hmm, come on guys, we are not interrogating y’all here, we are sharing stories. Let’s try this again, so what happened the first time you two worked together?

[Hayze Engola]

Can’t say there was a “first time” we worked together. We work together because we gel as people. I have known Classick my whole life, we went to primary school together so our synergy runs deep. We were friends before we were bandmates, so the friendship lead to music not the other way around.

Much better Hayze, much much better! Were your families cool with the idea of you guys’ pursuing music professionally?

[Hayze Engola]

We can’t say we are pursuing music professionally. What we can say is, music is our lives and we are trying to share it as well as cultivate it to the level where it can be financially sustainable and where the whole world can share in it also.

Interesting. How about the name, what’s the story behind it all?

[Talumba Chirwa]

There are two sides to Home Grown “African”; one side is that it is a pretty cool and easily distinguishable brand name, with an easy identifier of where we are from in it. So that was important.

The second side of it is that, it is an oxymoron when contrasted to our music, which is anything but entirely African and more of trap and mood music. That oxymoron I think captures quiet beautifully the role of the African New School and the reality of being a modern African. Which is; how “African” are we really, and are we not entitled to choose and redefine for ourselves what makes us African in a globalized world. It’s a love it or hate it affair. You either like the name or not.

Quite something to stew over, looking at it from that point.  Is it easy being in a group, or are there times when one of you feels like going solo?

[Hayze Engola]

We are friends. There is sufficient room for solo projects, from features to even solo albums. We never rule out the fact that the future is not always certain, but one thing we are sure of is that our solo projects in future, just as they are now, would not be as a result of being disgruntled as individuals, but genuine pursuits of personal conviction. As it stands Home Grown African is a pretty solid unit.

We pray it stays as such. Moving forward, who came up with the idea of Blantyre Blues?

[Talumba Chirwa]

Blantyre Blues was Hayze Engola’s brain child. It was supposed to be a kind of fast food project leading up to a well prepared several course meal album next year. It was our attempt to tackle the fact that we hadn’t put out any music as a group since March 2015. What was supposed to be a mere snack ended up being what has turned out to be an Iconic dish.

Would be fun to know if Blantyre actually has blues. Anyway, doesn’t the rest of Malawi, say Lilongwe feel left out?

[Hayze Engola]

Reppin your city isn’t a crime, as a matter of fact it is pretty standard in hip-hop, as long as you don’t go over board or diss other people’s cities in the process. So Home Grown fans from all over are cool with the concept behind Blantyre Blues.

[Talumba Chirwa]

The name Blantyre Blues certainly didn’t stop fans all around the world and around Malawi from sending in their voice notes to be included on Bullet Proof, so it’s safe to say everyone was behind the project.

Talking Bullet Proof, thank you again for the Shourrouts. We know there’s certainly a story behind every record, which one has the most unique story that most listeners would probably have never known?

[Talumba Chirwa]

Chosen. Without a doubt. Classick hated that song, we never understood why, but he felt he wrote it under peer pressure from us and didn’t like the way he had delivered it. So he demanded the entire project be wiped off our system. I remember whispering to BengoBeatz, our producer, in the ear and saying, “ don’t listen to him, you better hide the project somewhere on the PC also, I don’t think he is playing around this boy is really gonna delete it.” The reason that is a big deal is because, we were working on the assumption that Classick would record newer verses. However he was involved in an incident a few weeks ago that lead to him being severely injured. This rendered him unable to promote EP or do further recordings. He is actually still recovering. So we had to stretch as little of Classick as we could find on the project so that his persona was sufficiently included on project. So as it stands the only version of Chosen we have is the one on EP that Bengo had stowed away. All files, and studio recordings of that project etc are gone!! Deleted by Classick. It’s like this song was meant to be a part of history, even Classick couldn’t kill it entirely. Without it, the EP would have been too Hayze saturated to be a legitimate Home Grown African project to the fans. I am relieved that we took evasive action to preserve it, as it is undoubtedly one of the most touching and well liked records on the EP. In that respect, it is probably the most important song on there.

(At this point, it hits us that Classick has not been anwering any question, so we ask the manager why and are informed that he was involved in an incident, thus, was not available for the interview. A few days later, we write back asking to know what happened and most importantly, how he is fairing. The manager, being a PR guru, tells us that he is feeling much better but even him doesn’t know what transpired and we should ALL wait for Classick himself to fill us in once he is back to business. Sigh, gotta give it to this man Talumba. Hey, Classick, you owe us some explanation baba. In the meantime, all the best and the quickest recovery brother. Don’t be picking up unknown ladies by the Subway, don’t you watch all these Red Light district movies?)

Intriguing, would you single out a record off it that you the listeners to pay more attention to?

[Hayze Engola]

Everyone has their favourites, but we would want them to enjoy the EP as a whole.

The whole EP it is, we will enjoy nothing but the whole EP, even Esen blah! What was the hardest bit in putting the EP together?

[Talumba Chirwa]

The order of the tracks. Completing it without Classick was a drain on morale, and how to end it was something that wasn’t discussed prior. It was also imperative to enthuse the project with as much meaning as possible. Fortunately we were able to do that by filling Classick’s missing verse on bullet proof with fan shout outs 3 days before release. Which was tedious -soliciting and sifting through submissions, but it all worked out and was well worth it.

That was evidently tedious but a brilliant idea nevertheless. With all the buzz you’ve generated, labels and stakeholders must be showing interests. Are you guys looking to get signed?

[Talumba Chirwa]

We are looking for strategic partnerships yeah, if that is what you mean. Promotions, financing of videos and shows, distribution of music etc. We are quite capable from a production point of view and have our own studio. We aren’t looking for an excuse to let someone else do all the work just so that we can feel like we made it. We would only be interested in deals that would genuinely elevate us. So in that respect we haven’t been pushing to get signed. But we have been looking for P&D deals yeah.

ooh, that makes sense. We hope the relevant parties will see this and jump on board. Quick one, what would you rather have; fame or fortune?

[Hayze Engola]

The second one boss lol! That’s a no brainer…

[Talumba Chirwa]

Yeah, at Home Grown we have two principles we do things by, one of which is; it’s more important to be effective than it is to be famous. If we can achieve a turn out of 500 people at a small venue by personally texting them we would rather do that than spend hours and money on mainstream media or posters just to create hype. Our second principle is we never put out material we cannot defend or be proud of.

Ethical if you ask. Stick to them for as long as you can. How about the music, is it about content or mass appeal?

[Talumba Chirwa]

For us it is more important to stay true to who you are and how you feel at any specific point in time. That means we are consistent, but also it means if we ever changed we wouldn’t feel like we betrayed ourselves or anyone if it was out of genuine conviction that the change had to be done. Street cred doesn’t pay bills, sold out shows do, and so it is important to make art that is elevated but, that is also founded on sound financial observations. That’s why our radio single at the moment is an afrobeats song called Nobody, but our studio project is Blantyre Blues and it’s not on there. It’s also why even though our projects can be profanity heavy, all our official singles are superlight on profanity, because we know Africa doesn’t like that stuff.

It must be demur balancing between the two. So other than your vocals, do you guys play any instrument?

[Hayze Engola]

Remarkably no. Atleast I have never seen anyone on the team seriously play anything. So no.

Right at this moment, what’s that one thing y’all look back at and say “yes, we are proud of that?”

[Hayze Engola]

We are proud of EVERYTHING we have achieved these two years. Our Hit Single TIA, our debut video for Radio, performing at Lake of Stars festival, touring with Coca-Cola and now this Iconic Blantyre Blues EP –everything boss, no matter how small it may seem. Because, all of it speaks of growth and moving towards something.

Has the success changed your lives yet?

[Hayze Engola]

What success? Lol. When we reach the pinnacles we hope to reach then yeah we can have this conversation. As far as we are concerned we have just barely begun.

We will be here to remind you of that, the conversation, not the change. Apart from music, what projects are you guys involved in?

At the moment music is center stage though, each one of us has their own daily hustle that keeps them going from 7 to 5.

What’s the progress of your #Change4Aday initiative?

[Hayze Engola]

Well it has stalled a bit since Classick’s recent injury waiting on him to get back on his feet. As it was his initiative. So we will resume with it sometime next year. For now activities are on ice. However it was an initiative Classick started after hearing a kid say all he ever wanted was to eat rice and beef for just a day in his life. He was touched and felt surely that’s something that could be arranged for one of these children.

Classick has a good heart, so does all of you guys. We hope he gets up and running sooner. Let’s talk about being a being a young man from Blantyre working hard to make it in the continental music map. How would you describe that?

[Hayze Engola]

Feels pretty normal, there is no pressure. We move at our own pace and layout our plans carefully. We are on year two of our three year plan and all our goals have been met, so we are looking ahead to a new to do list. We just do us, and focus on what we need to do to make it.

Congratulations on your achievements thus far! Is there anyone you look after back home?

[Hayze Engola]

Well just ourselves really. We are just a bunch of single guys. I am finishing Uni by next year. The rest of the team are either working guys or on some personal mission. We are not taking care of babies or nothing like that, if that’s what you are asking. Unless there are babies I don’t know about yet somewhere waiting to spring up soon as we make it big lol!

Uuhm, in the sense of a role model. But worry not, we see what you did there. Back to music, who has been the most interesting artist you’ve worked with?

[Hayze Engola]

There is a guy here called Patience Namadingo, a very talented gospel and soul artist  who enjoys our music and appreciates what we are trying to build. We went to the Lake of Stars International Music Festival using his band, The Issues, and would go to his house and practice with his guys and stuff. Was a very good experience. Shout out to him.

Not sure about Namadingo, but Patience already says alot about him. Are you more thrilled about performing or recording?

[Hayze Engola]

We enjoy everything we do, and put our hearts equally into everything we do.

So which has been your favorite live performance so far?

[Hayze Engola]

The Coca-Cola Kuphaka Life Campaign Finale at NRC (Natural Resources College) in Lilongwe. Men, they felt us there for sure! Don’t get me wrong the whole tour was great fun, but that day was just special. Excellent vibe from morning till evening. It may also have had to do with the fact that we had our first double booking that day, Classick was opening for International Comedian Daliso Chaponda at the Bingu International Conference Center that evening. So it was a financially sound day haha. Anyways, Daliso burst on stage during Classick’s act and did his own written third verse to the song Bola Kunthazi. Was dope. Then we just went clubbing after that. Was a very good night. Taking pictures in the dressing room with random artists etc. Was the first time we felt like we made it.

Word is, there are so many hot mamis at NRC. We are not insinuating anything but we can only imagine. You’ll soon be all over the continent, have you got a favorite chill spot yet?

[Hayze Engola]

We are still yet to find one, but I personally think Capetown is gonna be fantastic when we get a chance to go.

And where in Africa would you guys go, just to admire the ladies?

[Hayze Engola]

Haha, everywhere dude!!

Deep down, we all aspire to be King Mswati. Now, what are your motives with this music?

[Hayze Engola]

We aim to make award winning music, period.

What would you change in Africa, given a chance?

[Hayze Engola]

Eish dude, let’s not even get into that… but we can start with changing our selves and I think we all get a chance to do that everyday. So we do what we can.

How does 2016 look like for you guys? Any forefront plans?

[Talumba Chirwa]

Let’s just get through this EP for now Lol. But yah, definitely a lotta videos. That’s one of our goals.

Keep going, we are listening adently baba. 

[Talumba Chirwa]

Nah men, we will fill you in as and when.

Word? Well, thanks so much for your time gentlemen (hope you all are, not sure about Classick so far), any shout outs as we close?

[Hayze Engola]

Big shout out to our boy Gemini Major now working on Casper Nyovest’s team, we see you!! Other than that everybody else’s shout outs are on track 4 on the EP. 

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One thought on “A – Interviews : Home Grown Africa [Malawi]

  1. Pingback: All Around Africa: Gemini Major [#Malawi] | All Around Africa!

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