EMBO TIME TRAVEL EXPERIMENT is Msaki’s large scale Standard Bank Young Artist for Music performance in the Guy Butler Theatre. A sonic work that explores personal and collective healing through sound, Msaki will perform two shows of this definitive sound journey during the National Arts Festival and then begin a period of withdrawal from public performance as she makes time and space for the seeds planted over this period, to find light.
For this show, Msaki leans into the EMBO frequency, investigating ways to understand and activate the calming, soothing, lulling, hypnotic, repetitive, and transcendental effect of sound. Here, the song becomes a time travelling device for healing. She revisits the ‘left behind selves’ of her childhood and early adulthood in Makhanda – interrogating her past experiences as a way to reconfigure the composite parts of her adult self back together.
Note – For this year’s Festival 2023 programme, Msaki presents a series of works across disciplines:
Visit Atherstone Gallery for her exhibition Del’ukufa open throughout the Festival
She performs Ndiyozilanda to an intimate audience on Saturday 24 June and 2 July
In the Cathedral, as part of Spirit Fest, she presents the musical performance Bawo Khusela including a 23 piece choir, uHadi ensemble and a String Quartet.
Embo Time Travel Experiment, at the Guy Butler Auditorium is her largest musical performance at the Festival which also encompasses aspects of the work she presents across the Festival, she presents two shows on Friday 30 June and Saturday 1 July.
Jude Van Der Wat
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
She took South Africa by storm in 2019 when she featured on Prince Kaybee’s smash hit “Fetch Your Life” – a song that would prove inspirational and sustaining to many people during the difficult years that followed (the music video for “Fetch Your Life” has racked up 10 million views on YouTube). In the same year, Msaki teamed up with DJ Black Coffee on “Wish You Were Here”, one of the tracks on the Grammy-winning album Subconsciously. Recently, she pursued a very different kind of partnership with 2021 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance, Kristi-Leigh Gresse, who immersed herself in Msaki’s music to spur her own choreographic work.
Collaborations aside, Msaki has a long history with the National Arts Festival. From a young age, Msaki participated in the Children’s Festival at NAF and brought productions to the Fringe as soon as her independent career began. She participated in the Dakawa Jazz Stage as Msaki & The Golden Circle and was awarded two Gold Standard Bank Ovation Awards. She has also curated multidisciplinary events, performances, and workshops at the Black Power Station.
Msaki’s musical repertoire also shows her to be a bold independent artist and solo musician. She released her first EP, Nal’ithemba, in 2013; this was followed by the LP Zaneliza: How The Water Moves in 2016, which included the chart-climbing single “Iimfama Ziyabona”. Her new album Platinum Heart: Open and the companion offering Platinum Heart: Beating combine folk, jazz, electronic and traditional African sounds. Her Platinum Heart collaborators include musical pioneer Neo Muyanga, with whom she wrote and produced “Blood Guns and revolutions” – a song about the Marikana massacre – and digital animation artist Thabang Lehobye, who created the powerful visuals for the music video.
Msaki’s vocals can have a soaring, anthemic quality; they can also strike a quiet, soulful mood. She identifies her music as straddling opposing approaches to personal and political aspects of the human condition:
I live in these two dichotomies – the acoustic and the electronic, the protest and the love. I always go back to the heart. A lot of it is about the small decisions of the heart that lead to the big issues. You ask those questions and somehow hope that in the asking, and in the petitioning and alongside the protesting, we keep hoping for justice.