A – Interviews : Tiyas King [Swaziland]

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Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, sayeth Shakespeare. And so it goes to tell that being a King is no mean achievement. Take for example; do you know how many cases have been filed by women, suing their partners of neglects to conjugal rights? Now imagine being King Mswati. It’s daunting to be a King. A reason why they deserve all the respect… and love. Earlier on, we had shared this article, having been surprised by the sudden realization that there is another King in Eswatini. Ooh behold. Just like David, this King was a talented musician who wooed us with his Laws of Attraction. A few weeks ago, we revisited that particular song after sampling more singles off his Sound Cloud and we thought, hey, how about requesting the King for an interview? Now here is what they don’t tell you kids; that Kings, howbeit being treated with utmost respect, are just as respectful to their subjects. Good begets good, so they know. When we reached out to Tiyas for this interview, he responded within 2 hours! A new record here at AAA. And no, you might think that he randomly nibbled and scribbled his answers so as to be done and get moving. How wrong art thou. This right here, is the most detailed interview we’ve heard all around Africa. Now fathers and sisters, mothers and brothers, please adjust your emakiya and let’s gather under this Tamboni tree to listen to what our King has to say. 

Greetings your Majesty, as you can see, the humble children of Africa have assembled here today to give you not just one, but all our ears. An introduction as you may please sir.  

[Clears throat, of course!] Tiyas King is a Swaziland RnB singer/songwriter, whose music ranges from electro, to hip hop, to typical rnb (both old school and new school), to a bit of soft rock influence. In Swaziland I have won two Tihlabani Awards for best RnB, and a NACA for same in the year 2015. I am under the management of Thasa Management and Bookings Agency, a capable entity headed by one Christian Tabo Sishwashwa.

Thank you once again King, so how long has this Kingdom been established?

I’ve been singing for quite a while now, my first album was released in 2007 and titled Love Chronicles; the second came out in 2010 and is the project that most Swazis regard as the project that made me visible within Swaziland.

Your music is way above standard, have you had any professional training whatsoever?

I have not had musical training, but it is something I am pursuing now. If anything, I’d say I learnt how to sing as most singers do, singing in the church choir. My earliest memories of singing go back to as far as 1999. Prior to this, singing was just a hobby, something I did in the shower.

That is quite strange, seeing just how well cordinated everything is. What of instruments, do you play any?

Tiyas has only now commenced being trained in piano, but before, Tiyas could play at a very rudimental basis the piano.

You seem to have an all round great packaging, what’s the secret beind your branding? 

I’m not sure if I am packaged well, but I’ll take it as a compliment. One thing I have been fortunate to have throughout my career, is capable people around me, who understand exactly what I’m trying to build. Right now the man heading all things to do with my branding is my Manager, Christian, and nothing that goes against my brand standard passes through. If there’s any secret to managing your brand well, I’d have to say, put capable people in your management. Ensure the team around you, are well acquainted with what exactly you are trying to establish for yourself and your brand. And never fear to miss out on certain things that are popular, but are not in line with your brand message.

Makes so much, a King only deserves the best. Away from the music your majesty, let’s talk about the family Kingdom. Who is Tiyamike?

Tiyamike the family man? Ahhh man, what can I say? I’ve been blessed to find the love of my life this lifetime. A woman who not only goes out into the world and hustles with me, but one who has loved me stubbornly, and supported my dreams and career aspirations every step of the way. Those close enough to us will know that she gets actively involved with every aspect of the management of TK. She will liaise with management, she will communicate with the band, or the rest of the team, follow up on things that are being neglected and give me my space and time to create music. Together we’ve been blessed with a daughter who is 2years and 6months. Again, for those who have been close to me, they’d know that I saw this daughter of mine in a dream I had many years before I got married. Everytime I look at my daughter it reaffirms that our union was written into our story, we were meant to walk through life as a unit, were it not so, my daughter would not be exactly how I dreamt her to be. 4What’s a King without a Queen? They say the real sign of a man is in the size of his woman’s smile. How then, do you juggle between music and family?

I think the nature of life is such that you cannot focus on one thing devoid of participating in everything happening around you. So everyone one way or another is juggling a number of things in their life at once. For me, I would say juggling the music and family has not been that much of a challenge yet, because the career has not reached that level where I am faced with choosing a life-altering opportunity over my family. Life is still simple. And I guess that is how heaven is planning it out for me and my family; life is progressing one step at a time, giving us the time and confidence to acquaint ourselves with new developments, and familiarize ourselves with the tools required to survive through it. Each year sees the brand growing a little bigger, and each year sees our family adjust to fit each other’s hustles. This is a blessing in and of itself. The gift of gradual growth.

Guess here is the part we say an amen in unison? Tell us, how is a typical day like, for Tiyas?

I wake up at 5am, go for my jog, take a shower, prepare for work (I am a lawyer by vocation), take the daughter to play school, and hit the studio in the evening, and rehearsals. Most of my day is spent online though. Constantly in communication with management, the band, the team. and media personnel. It starts getting very congested when I have commitments at work as equally as important to my law career, as the commitments that have come up on the same day which are important to my music career. On days such as this, I lean heavily on the team, to meet all deadlines, and see how I juggle it all together.

A tight schedule, befitting to a King 😂😂😂. Let’s face the music (sorry for the bad pun) once again, what would you want your listeners to experience through your music?

Well now that the album is out, and people can sample the album in its entirety, I want people to join me on the journey of a man, fresh out of break up, and how he works through healing, and staying far away from love, and eventually finding love again. It’s a story most can relate to. However, to catch the whole story you need to listen to the whole album, otherwise all you are getting are fragments to the master piece that is the whole. My fans will dance to songs that have nothing to do with love, and they will sing along to songs speaking about ‘this not being the time in one’s life to be worrying about matters of the heart, and just focus on yourself’…it’s RnB so there’ll be songs about sex, and songs about love, lessons learnt, things hoped for, and things admired in relationships. Hearing the music is just one layer to myself as an artist. To get the full compliment of what I am about, you would then have to attend a TiyasKingInConcert Show, where you get to see the music performed live. You would need to follow me on my pages where you can exchange back and forth with me into what some of the deeper issues are in the project. You would need to watch the videos released to familiarize yourself with how I present myself. A fan who does this would get the entire experience.

That is a full cycle experience that we certainly believe the fans will relish. How great would it be for the whole of Africa to feel… Talking of music, who is your favorite artist and who do you fancy collaborating with in Swaziland and Africa as a whole? 

Swaziland is rich concentration into a small pot of great artists, I could never pick just one, there are several. Off the top of my head? There’s KrTC, Floewe, Amanda Mo, King Terry, Bk_da_1st, Jay, Bholoja, an RnB artist by the name of Slotta, and soooooo many more. Literally think every artist between last year and this year have pushed the bar higher than it was previously set. Africa, there are several artists I’d love to work with, at the top of my list is Banky W, as far as African RnB goes, he really set the bar high on how to package it in such a way that it is not only nationally appealing, and not only continentally appealing, but also global. The sound is clean, writing impeccable, and the presentation is uniquely his. Hip Hop wise, I’d love to work with the likes of AKA and Ice Prince. Both understand how to present their alter egos very well, and I’m sure beyond making a dope track, I’d learn a lot from that exchange and process.

You are evidently focused on widening this Kingdom and we look forward to see this dream come to fruition. Thanks for introducing us to a bunch of Swazi musicians too, we are checking them out henceforth. Personally, have you encountered any embarassing moments?

I remember this one time I was doing an interview for a television show in SA, and I was asked who my favorite artist is in South Africa. In the same studio we had another RnB singer from SA, so out of pressure, I said he was, and the interviewer asked me to sing a song of his, for which I didn’t know any. Embarrassing does not accurately capture the level of embarrassed I was at.2

The King was aiming to be politically correct 😅😅😅, we hope they saved that clip for future references. By the way, is there a particular genre of music that shouldn’t get as much airplay as it does? 

My honest opinion is that the genres the dominates any territories airplay deserves to be played more. If the people enjoy it more, let the people have it played more. I do worry about hip hop being played more than RnB as that has trickled down to society’s moral fibre decaying bit by bit. Women are more and more becoming alright with being referred to as b*tches and wh*res. One night Stands are the in thing over relationships. Love is considered weak, and casual sex is popular. Heck, clubs don’t even have slow dance sessions any more because aint nobody trying to twerk to Luther Vandross’ “Dance With My Father Again”. Intimacy is dying a slow death, and in my humble opinion, Hip Hop has a lot to do with that.

We have not had any single artist talking about the surge in immorality as openly as you. A reason why you truly are King. With that said, what is the music scene in Swaziland like, are there things you wish to change? 

Swaziland’s music scene is at the threshold of an industry revolution. Before now, the average Swazi would much rather ignore a local artist, and support a South African aritst. The current is slowly changing as locals up the standards of their music, market themselves stronger, and showcase their talents more frequently. If there’s one thing I’d change about our industry, it would be the notion that our corporates seem to operate on, that locals must become big before they start pumping money into projects. I’d love to see it work the other way, corporates investing in locals with the view of growing an industry from wherever it was. The growth we have seen in South Africa and Nigeria has boiled down to this very point. Casper might not have filled the dome had corporates not bought into the idea. Most of these artists might not have sold gold or platinum if corporates did not buy into the projects. I’d also change the spirit of competition amongst artists, not just in Swaziland, but on the continent. It would be great to see Africa close of the West to our money, and start opening our markets to each other on the continent. Have the King of RnB, in Swaziland invite the King of RnB in Nigeria down for a show, or vice versa.

This is the gospel we have been preaching all this time; African Unity through collaborations!! Thank you for sharing on our dream King. You are a distinguished artist, have you been chanced to perform out of Swaziland?

I’ve performed outside of Swaziland several times. It’s different. Back home, I rarely walk onto a stage to make a name for myself, I go onto a stage to reaffirm my position as one of Swaziland’s industry leaders. Outside Swaziland, I am UNKNOWN. I am an up and coming. At first, I hated the feeling, but now? Now I enjoy it. The idea that I have nothing to lose, allows me to try things I could never try back home. See how audiences that do not know me will react to it. Dress different. Push the boundaries a little more. The ideas that work? I take back home. The ones that don’t? I abandon. It’s been a year of learning, and I’ve taken that very same spirit back to with me.

And which has been your favorite performance thus far? 

My favorite performance of all time to date has to be the #TiyasKingInConcert show we held earlier this year. Every performance was defined by the type of audience I was performing for. If the performance was at a club, I’d have to do dance and hip hop tracks as interpreted thought RnB. If was doing a corporate show, I’d have to do my typically rnb songs. At a TiyasKing show, you get to see the whole picture of TK. You get to see and understand why I say TK as an alter ego is bi-polar. Not to brag, but when it comes to how I do my music, I’m not influenced by what people do internationally or on the continent. I’m not influenced by what Africans say is African, or not African. I’m not influenced by how other singers execute their music, I do it my. My way has soooooo many different influences. Most people do not know that I started out as a fully fledged rapper until they hear me spit a verse. So being too RnB is not in TK’s dna, but neither is being too Hip Hop. It’s always a beautiful synergy and hybrid of more than one element.

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You are clearly at the top in the Music scene right now, do you believe that artists have to rely on darkforces and witchcraftcy to ascend to the pinnacles of success? 

There’s always talks of that I guess. Not just in music, but an industry. For me my rule has always been, if you work hard, and you work hard consistently, eventually, you get what’s coming to you. I choose to ignore stories of witchcraft, as it teaches that I have to find someone who can magically make everything happen for me, and that’s not the legacy I’m trying to leave behind.

So if all the fame, glory and the money were taken away, would you still make music?

I will always make music. If the talent is still bestowed on me, and I have the gift, I’d always choose to continue making music. If the voice left me one day, I’d still write music.

Random question, which country in Africa do you think has the hottest ladies?

People will think I’m being bias, but Swaziland has the hottest women by far. Africa as a whole is a problem for the rest of the world, I mean humanity started here, so it only makes sense that we have that A Grade, but Swaziland, has only 1 million inhabitants…of that 1 million, per square kilometer, I assure you will find a denser population of beautiful women here.

From the images we see of Mswati, of course, we can’t refute this. Which brings us to this; you talk so fond of your wife, how did you two meet? 

The wife and I started out as very close friends. She’s seen me in relationships, and I’ve seen her in relationships, and after seeing relationships not working out with our respective signifcant others at the time, I guess the natural thing to do for us was to give an “US” a try. The reasoning was if we share the same goals, dreams, and are already close friends, there could be no harm trying. Luckily for us marriage has not changed the friendship dynamic we had going for us prior to walking down the aisle. We still enjoy each other’s company and counsel.

Just curious, does Swazi ladies twerk, say in the clubs?

Swazi girls twerk behind closed doors. Most of our women are ladies in the street but freaks behind closed doors!! hahahahahahahahahaha…. Seriously though, I can’t say I’ve seen so many women twerking in clubs that I could make so general a statement, that “swazi women twerk in clubs”. No!

Quick one here, do you ever wish to be Mswati? We will not judge brother, also, this is just between us. 

I never wish to be the King of Swaziland. The position is a hard one. Ever heard the saying, “heavy ways the crown on the king’s head”. I love my life. I even love the things I hate about it. It’s simple, but sophisticated. We don’t have much, but we have more than enough. There’s room left to dream, and wake up every morning and pursue those dreams. Even the aspect of having that many wives does not appeal to me. One wife is a complex enough, over 10? Not for me. 5

Hehee, somehow, we seem to believe that you responded to this with a gun on your head brother 😂😂😂😂… But we all peace, right?So other than the obvious, what would you like the rest of Africa to know about Swaziland?

The rest of the world knows us to be a lazy people with bad leadership, and nothing irks me more than when people speak from a point of ignorance. The truth is we are a peace loving people, who love our culture and have protected it successfully from an western influence. We are not immune to corruption in our leadership, as is the case in every single state across the globe, but one thing we have going for us, is that we have been growing from strength to strength each year. The people of Swaziland love their king, love their kingdom, and are working hard to building a thriving and competitive economy.

It’s very clear that the king is loved, but lazy? Come on man, that’s rediculous!! Which lazy man would have a myriad of beautiful … never mind. Anyway, if the AAA team visited, where is the fav spot that you would most likely take them to?

I’d take them to Summerfields for dinner. It’s always been my favorite place to take friends that visit. It’s also the place my Queen and I got engaged.

Summerfields it is for us! As for your fans and Africa in general, what should they expect from you, any new projects on the way? 

This year, fans should expect to see more of me beyond the borders of the Kingdom of Swaziland. The team has been working hard on getting our music to the rest of the world. For starters, you can now get our music on iTunes (Tiyas King: Hello Sunshine), and several digital music stores, namely, emusic, spotify, deezer groove, rdio, IHeeartRadio, medianet, Rhapsody, Tidal and Youtube Music. Hopefully Africa starts seeing our music videos on MTV Base and Trace and Channel O, and also at a radio station near you.

If it’s not music, what would it be then? 

I always say, if I wasn’t a singer, I’d be an author. I enjoy reading, and I enjoy writing. If I were none of these, I’d be lost! Utterly lost.

What will make you feel accomplished at the end of it all? 

The end goal? To make history in music one way or the other. To put my country on the global map in such a way that others coming after me, find it easier to also dream as big and make it out of whatever corner they are coming from. I want my music to help me give back to my community. I want to amass wealth so I’m in a position to change the things I hate about where I come from, and assist propagate further the things I love about my country. I want my music to be the reason a couple or two, or a thousand gave love a second try, or a third try. If my music can change the life of even one, my end goal is served.

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