Bongeziwe Mabandla’s third studio album was released to fanfare on social media last week. The Eastern-Cape born singer-songwriter had been previewing iimini for months before its eventual release in the closing days of March 2020.
The early impressions, gained from the singles released in 2019 and 2020, were extremely positive and judging from feedback on social media, the album is on its way to gaining some rave reviews over the coming weeks.
In the latest edition of our 5 Minutes series, we spoke to the hitmaker shortly after he had released his new record with the world for a conversation about love, relationship and allowing his fans into his life with his latest body of work.
Moziak Magazine: Hi Bongeziwe, Welcome to Moziak Magazine. iimini is finally out! Who do you think was the very first person to stream it at midnight?
Bongeziwe Mabandla: That would be my friend Sthe who lives in South Korea. We spoke on the phone and I told her to post first. I think a lot people in Australia as well who listen to my music and because of the time difference, they received the album first. In South Africa I’m sure there are people who are going to be listening to the Album at midnight.
Stream iimini below:
MM: The album released on the same day SA citizens were “locked down”. Now that people have more time and fewer distractions, what specific parts of the album would you like them to focus on?
BM: There is a story throughout the album, it is the timeline of a love story. I want people to understand this sub text of the album while listening to the music. Some will understand the lyrics and some won’t but a lot of people will see themselves in the music.
MM: We’ve seen iimini described as a love story which is followed from the very beginning of the romance, up until the end. What lessons about love do you hope to teach your listeners?
BM: This album somehow mirrors a lot of relationships. It’s a story of how love can both build and break you. It’s a testimony of what being vulnerable and open can do. It’s about how time changes emotions and situations and reflecting on that.
MM: Are the album’s contents inspired by true events or did you channel the emotions of your lyrics
BM: All my lyrics come from true events in this album. It’s about things I have been through. Some are more direct while others are looser. I wrote more about who I am in this album and really went to places I had never shared before.
MM: Take us through the journey from conceptualizing to actually bringing iimini to life.
BM: It started with songs on my guitar and stories that I wrote for months. There are a few songs that I worked on with my band – mostly from acoustic songs written on paper. There were mind maps that I made to make sure that each song had a concept and was different to others. For example, it was really important to know this song is about the first time two people meet, this song is about the first kiss and this song is about trying to make it work through a difficult time. Then I would meet with Tiago Correia Paulo, the producer of iimini and my long time colloborator. I would play him the song and explain the theme and message and we would exchange ideas and references. On the recording process we recorded most of the album in Tiago’s studio in Johannesburg and some last touches in Maputo. We would first start with recording guitars and voice and then adding all the layers and elements mostly performed by Tiago. We made a lot of artistic and experimental choices on this album which I am really proud of. I think it is a pretty unique offering and and I very happy with how it turned out.
MM: Khangela is the most recent track to be released from iimini. Were you happy with the reception that the track received in the last two weeks?
BM: Sometimes you write a song and you think you are being figurative but people understand it to its fullness. I wrote this song about loneliness and my desire to love and be loved and I cannot believe how many people have told me I am singing about them. It’s painful to reflect on how many lonely people there are out there with similar feelings.
MM: We also particularly enjoyed the release of the lyric video which accompanied the single. What plans can you reveal for the official Khangela video?
BM: Our approach to this album has been art, creativity and simplicity first. Whatever visual we release next, it’s really important that it blends in with that concept. We are not planning to do high production videos, the visuals we will release are an extension and complementary to the music.