Donald Moatshe is one of the most successful artists to come out of South Africa. A few weeks ago he made time to chat to us about everything that’s been going on in his life musically. He also told us what he loves about Africa and what he’d like to change. It was one great conversation.
I met Donald through an old friend years ago. He was actually performing at the 10th wedding anniversary of Shona and Connie Ferguson. I fell in love with his voice from that day, and I have watched him work hard in the industry, that’s why I am not surprised that he is now a powerhouse.
Kiki: I’m just gonna dive straight into it with you because I know you’re a busy man, always on the go.
Donald: Hahahaha, I first want to know more about your new baby. Congratulations Kiki. Tell me about her.
Kiki: Well, my baby Ossify is still a new born, born on the 9th May. Our aim is to push as much African content and talent as possible. To give artists like you who work with other African artists a platform. You recently worked with Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage and Kenya’s Victoria Kimani. That’s what I’m talking about. I feel like there are a lot of joint projects happening in our continent but you find that South Africa will talk about Donald and not give Tiwa the same space, and also Nigeria will talk about Tiwa and not give Donald the same space even though they both put in the same amount of work.
Donald: I know exactly what you mean and that needs to change at some point. We should all work together and be seen and appreciated equally. That’s good Kiki.
Kiki: You see? That is why I also wanted to interview Tiwa and Victoria, hopefully I will catch them someday. Speaking of Tiwa, how did your collaboration come about?
Donald: I would like to believe it’s been a work in progress with her. Conversations that started very casually, four years ago when we met at an Awards ceremony. We complimented each other’s work at the time. I’ve always been a fan of Tiwa, and I’ve always stressed that if there is one African artist I really dream of working with, it’s Tiwa Savage.
Kiki: And look at you now. You’ve made it happen.
Donald: We have a musical connection. I relate a lot to what Tiwa is. She comes from that R&B background. From an African point of view I think she was the one artist that I understood more than a lot. With that said, working together didn’t just happen. We actually met a few times before we made it happen.
Kiki: Hahahahaha I can’t deal with you musicians and wasting time.
Donald: Yeah, we are like that. We talk a lot about working together before it actually happens. When I finally made a decision to do this project (Visual Album), I told myself that I have to fight to make it bigger. As much as I try to keep things as relevant/current as possible, I never want to lose the musicality or lose myself in the process. So I’m not gonna work with an artist just because they are popping right now. There has to be a musical connection. For me it’s very important that I make songs that I can be proud of 15years from now.
Kiki: It hasn’t been 15 years I know but we still feel I Deserve and Denial whenever we listen to them.
Donald: That’s exactly what I want. The music you can feel and relate to years after years. So that’s how I knew I needed Tiwa on this album. Initially it was just going to be me, no features but then I didn’t want to do something that everyone expected me to do so I decided to incorporate other genres. That’s when I decided to include other artists. I approached the very brilliant but not really known artists ( Floda and Sosa from Dremteam) and featured them on the song Standing Ovation.
Kiki: Ok, tell us about this new album of yours, Something More.
Donald: On the album I have 10 songs. 8 of them, it’s the usual Donald dance type. One is hardcore R&B and the other one is an Afro Soul track, I sing in Zulu.
Kiki: YOU?? Singing in Zulu?
Donald: I’m serious. It’s a Zulu ballade. You know Musa and Bra Robbie’s song Mthande? It’s kinda similar to that vibe. And if you remember that’s how I started back in the day. The song Know You Better is still being played on radio today. It’s the same type of music.
Donald: When I wrote Rain Drops, I immediately knew that was the song for Tiwa. So I made contact, when she came to SA, we had one meeting. She didn’t even ask to listen to the song first before making a decision. We just got to it and luckily she loved the song when I sent it to her. As they say, the rest is history. Raid Drops is my first single from this visual album.
Kiki: What is a Visual Album? You know I heard about it but I still have no clue what it is really. I know you always doing these things that some of us are clueless about. From Red Mic Experience to Visual nton ntons. I can’t keep us with you.
Donald: A visual album is not a new concept, it’s been done before by a couple of artists. But I am the first African artist to do a visual album.
Kiki: Which non-African artists have done it? I’m trying to see if I can ‘visualize’ it in my head.
Donald: The Beatles have done it as far as I know. But we (this generation) was introduced to a visual album by Beyonce. The last 2 albums of hers (Beyonce and Lemonade) were visual albums.
Kiki: Ok, maybe I am too slow. I can’t pick up the difference.
Donald: It’s like a normal album, songs on the album. But what you do is, you shoot music videos for every single song on the album, and you find some sort of a theme or storyline to connect all the songs and the visuals.
Kiki: You mean like at the end of the video it says To Be Continued….. and then you pick up the story from there on to the next video?
Donald: Not necessarily. NO! It’s not like that, that is more like what R Kelly did with Trapped in the Closet. That’s not a visual album, that’s kinda like a musical movie. On a visual album, the songs remain individual songs and can still stand on their own, but somehow the story that you tell in between the songs, connects. The messages, the story line connect from one song into the next song. So one song can talk about cheating, and the next talks about happiness. But you talk about how you go from cheating to being happy.
Kiki: I just got schooled hard. I was so lost. I get it now. So what did you talk about in your album? What was your storyline?
Donald: I took the subject of Love, Life and Relationships. And people enjoy more when they are visuals.
Kiki: So you have 10 songs and 10 videos from 1 album? That sounds expensive.
Donald: It is. It’s extremely expensive. I cleaned all my bank accounts to make sure that it happens.
Kiki: Does this mean we will be seeing in the Forbes Africa Top 10 list as part of the richest?
Donald: Hopefully so. Hopefully this album makes me that kind of money for me to be in the Forbes Top 10 Richest African Artists. Hahhahha, I wanna be up there with the Black Coffees
Kiki: It better. With all this money you’ve put in, it better put on that list.
Donald: The thing is with me, as much as I am a businessman, I am an Artist. I live for my art. So I will always invest back into my art. I will always put money back into it. I am not obsessed with keeping the money in my pocket. I do believe that if you want to stay in this industry for a very long time, you gotta think forward, and thinking forward comes with looking within your pocket also, to invest back into what you do. I think that’s why till today people are still talking about Donald, I’m going into my 6th year now and the love remains.
Kiki: I cannot believe how long it’s been tho. You’ve been so consistent with your art. You are still the same Donald.
Donald: It’s because I am being myself and I wanna keep it that way. Also the fans have been keeping me together. Their love and support shocks me all the time. Before I released this project, I went off social media for a month and half. My fans were mad for a lil’ while and confused, wondering why they weren’t seeing me on their TLs.
Kiki: With this huge following and being in the music industry, tell us about Donald 10 years ago?
Donald: Geez, that was in 2007. I was already in the music industry hustling. I had just broken up with the group I was a part of since 2005. I then met the group Malaika around that time 2007-2008.
Kiki: Oh yes, you used to be a backup singer right?
Donald: Yes, I was a backup singer for Malaika, and for Zonke. That’s how I got my record deal with DJ Cleo. Wheel Of Steel was the first record label to sign me as a solo artist. DJ Cleo produced my first album.
Kiki: You and Cleo seem to have maintained a good relationship. He speaks highly of you and your talent, and you speak highly of him, you always give him props. Which is very rare in this business. People are always fighting each other when it’s time to part ways.
Donald: DJ Cleo helped me to become the man I am hey. He helped me understand the music business. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably be signed to another label. But when I left Wheel of Steel, I started my own label. That’s when things really started to pick up. The album I Deserve was released under my label.
Kiki: Hahahaha, you moved from @DonaldIDeserve to @DonaldInDenial and then you stopped changing your Twitter handles, why? Shouldn’t we be on @DonaldSomethingMore now?
Donald: I stopped because everyone started doing it. It became a trend that people were following and I didn’t want to be part of that.
Kiki: Excuse us…..hehehehe
Donald: I actually started that whole putting of one’s current song with your name as a Twitter handle. That was me.
Kiki: Also with the Twitter verification you can’t change your handle otherwise you lose that tick. Anyway, let’s move on from the music and talk about other things. You know here we push the African continent. How many African countries have you been to?
Donald: Let me just mention the ones I remember at this moment; Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and Lesotho.
Kiki: Where are you planning on going this year?
Donald: I’m going to Nigeria this year. The song I did with Tiwa, there are some talks of me travelling there and I am looking forward to it. I will probably hit Ghana also.
Kiki: What is it that you love most about being African?
Donald: I’d say we are probably the most connected to our souls. We are connected to the roots of who we really are. That’s why a lot of Americans feel that ‘OMG I am home’ whenever they come here. It’s because they feel lost. In Africa, we are at most closer to nature than anyone else in the world.
Kiki: That’s why they think we sing on trees and have Lions and Baboons as our pets. Lawd!!
Donald: I know right? Also as Africans we are true to ourselves. We are free….
Kiki: FREE??? Where? I’m gonna argue that one.
Donald: I’m not talking politically or economically. I’m talking Spiritually. Africans have free spirits. We are happy, we are loud, we are expressive. We have something you won’t find anywhere in the world.
Kiki: That’s actually true. I’ve been to places where people look angry for no reason. Hahahaha! Ok, is there anything that you are not happy about as an African in Africa?
Donald: I will speak more from a South African point of view. I have picked up that as South Africans, we are not as supportive of each other as we should be. If I had the power, I’d change that. But for now I can only do my part by supporting others, showing them that it’s ok to have your own achievements but also be able to support others. You lose nothing in supporting the next person.
Kiki: Well, I see you practice what you preach. Here you are supporting my blog by agreeing to the interview. That’s support right there.
Donald: We need to get it right and support each other. I do feel that there are other countries that have that better than us.
Kiki: You know what? I don’t think it’s just a South African thing. I’ve spoken to people (Business & Arts) from different African countries and they are crying about the same thing. So I personally think all of us Africans need to learn a thing or two from Nigerians.
Donald: I agree, Nigeria does it better than all of us.
Kiki: Naija people are so united. I don’t know if that’s for real or they are pretending. If they are pretending, they are doing a good job because what we see around us, people can’t pretend.
Donald: I think as Africans we really need to stick to who we are. Part of our identity is UBUNTU (Being a somebody because of someone else). So if we can practice that, we will be unstoppable. We have no reason to not support each other. Right now, you cannot believe the amount of love and noise I am getting from Nigeria because of my song with Tiwa. I’m not even Nigerian, but they are supporting because one of their own is on my song.
Kiki: You see what I mean? I am moving to Nigeria for a year shem. I need that wisdom. Hahahaha. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. All the best with the album.
Donald: Thank you for having me. All the best with Ossify Media.
This interview was very inspirational and motivating. Thank you Donald. Guys, if you haven’t seen his Rain Drops video featuring Tiwa Savage please check out our Video of The Week. We got it up there!!