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Born at Velezizweni in Mankayane, Nhlonipho Dlamini is a pianist, singer, composer and producer. His love and passion for music was sparked at an early age. 

For him, music began at home and he later joined the school choir in primary and high school where he won his first solo competition. In 2015 he took on a journey to study music professionally. Currently he holds a Diploma in Music Performance (piano) as well as a Diploma in Civil Engineering.

How would you best describe your music?

I am a trained Jazz pianist, my music is mostly inspired by Jazz music. I love writing to tell a story and carrying a message in a song, even in my dance songs, there is a story or a message. My new project has both afro pop and amapiano infusions in the project. 

Being born liSwati, what inspired you to relocate to South Africa and when?

I relocated to Johannesburg in 2015 to study Music specialising in Piano Performance. I have always wanted to study music because it is my passion and I believe it is my calling.

What have been your biggest highlights working in music?

I have always had the privileges of working with big artists in South Africa. I have worked with renowned South African artists such as Luyolo Yiba (Idols South Africa winner 2019), Thando Mngomezulu (top three on Idols South Africa in 2018), Shuffle Muzik, Zintle Kwaaiman, Nathi Mankayi, Amanda Mankayi, Samthing Soweto, Citizen Deep, Amanda Black, Nathan Blur, Siyakha Khitha, Wanda Zonke, Anele and Neliswa (Twins) and The Soweto Central Chorus.  I think working with Samthing Soweto changed me all together, he’s very good and he inspired me a lot. 

What inspired you to make your new EP, what genre is it?

The Extended Play ‘Umlayeto’ is a mixture of afro pop and amapiano. I was inspired by Samthing Soweto and Shasha. 

Take us through each track of the EP and what inspired it?

The first track titled ‘Narihi Nanare’ features Charmant Mushaga a gifted Congolese guitarist, singer-songwriter and band leader. This a love song. I was actually writing to tell my girl that I would love her no matter the circumstances and distance. I’m convincing her that I’ll pay lobola, the only thing she needs to do is love me.  Second song is titled ‘Bayakufuna’ - it is also a love song. On this one I’m with my girl and guys are busy staring at her, so I’m basically letting her know that even though they can look at her she’s mine and they won’t get her. She’s good for me and even though they can try they won’t make it because she’s mine. 

What’s the one thing about you that would shock people?

I have an identical twin brother who also sings. He is actually very good. But he is a Gospel singer. 

Which artist do you wish to work with one day and why? 

I would love to work with Msaki one day. I love the way she writes and the way she projects her voice, she’s such a natural yet technical musician and I love the fact that she has that jazzy feel in some of her music. 

What lessons are you walking out of lockdown with?

During lockdown, I have learnt that the future is now, planning for a next time, or next year is inevitable. I had big plans for 2020 but it didn’t all work out. I also learnt the importance of social media, during lockdown events /gigs were only happening online, therefore artists who benefitted a lot from that are those with more followers on social media. 

What’s that one thing that will always remind you of home?

I always miss the nature we have at home, unlike here I’m surrounded by huge buildings. And I love the way we have been raised and brought up, we have more respect and that has carried me a lot. I also miss our cultural events, I always love to be here when they are happening, I love my culture and the King. 

Something you’d love to do once everything goes back to normal in the world?

I would love to do an international and local tour and a live show in Eswatini. I would also like  to release my full project. 

What inspired your transition from the music genre you did before to the current one?

The sound I have always had in music is related to the sound I’m doing now.  So I found it easy for me to transition.


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