WORDS BY LESIBA MANKGA
In most cases, I have a good barometer for people. Within the first couple of seconds of meeting an artist, I can tell whether or not we will hit it off immediately, it’s just a matter of getting acquainted with each other, which usually happens in the few minutes we talk before we start the actual interview. For the first time, I didn’t get the opportunity to interact with the person I am interviewing…
Bassie and her team arrived at our agreed pick-up spot and we began the short journey from the parking lot to our offices. During that brisk walk, I was talking to the members of her management team and I barely got in a word with her. So naturally, she didn’t seem human to me. I couldn’t see Bassie the person; only Bassie the brand.
Well, we quickly arrived at our HQ, and I ushered her into the interview room and sat across her… I was a bit tentative because I still couldn’t read her or maybe I was just overthinking the moment because this would be my first interview with an Amapiano star in my entire (albeit short) career. Either way, I calmed my nerves and proceeded to ask her the first question.
Name one song to describe your childhood, one song to describe your teens and one song to describe your life right before you met up with your team?
The one song that would describe my childhood would have to be ‘Because of You’ by Kelly Clarkson. The one song that would describe my teens would be… konje yini lengoma yeGqom… oh yes! ‘Omunye’ by Destruction Boyz. And the one song that would describe my life right before I met my team would be Black Coffee’s ‘Stuck in your love’.
Now, if you were me and someone asked the question, “how would you describe Bassie’s voice”, what would you say?
It’s husky… I guess [chuckles]. My speaking voice is husky and sometimes it gives off the wrong impression of me because people think my voice is gone or that I party a lot, which isn’t the case at all.
I watched your interview with Kaya FM and it was pretty insightful. Would you describe yourself as someone that’s spiritual?
I would describe myself as someone that is spiritual but I’m not an avid churchgoer. Praying is an important part of my life and I acknowledge the presence of a higher being.
How much of a role does manifesting play in your life?
Manifestation plays a huge role in my life. I manifested my entire career and so far that has worked out for me. I manifest everything… down to the smallest aspects of my life. I even manifested getting the phone I want and I’m receiving it today.
I ask that because it seems like everything in your life just happens to you… So, I wanted to find out how intentional you were in making all of the events in your life happen. How do go about navigating life now that you are in your ascension as an artist?
I have a vision board in my room and I put everything I want on the board. I do that so that when I start my day, I see the things I want, and the people I want to work with and make a conscious effort to channel my energy into achieving those things.
Did you share your dreams and ambitions with your family and friends, or are you someone who keeps their hopes and dreams internally to themselves?
It depends on how close the dream or goal is to me and my relationship with the person I’m talking to. In high school, my friends would call me Miami because I would always tell them that one day, I’m going to be famous… I’m going to be on TV, and they would laugh because they thought my dreams were too big.
I imagine it would have been difficult to manage a child that is so determined to achieve such a big dream. How did they feel at home about your career choice?
Growing up, my mom was very strict and I think that mostly came down to the fact that I was her firstborn child because she isn’t so strict with my siblings. I think that I came from a pretty normal family but I dealt with some personal traumas, just like everyone else…
Would it be more accurate to describe you as rebellious or determined?
Honestly, I could say that both are accurate descriptions of me. There were times in my life when I needed to be headstrong in order to achieve my goals and to be taken seriously. In the same light, I felt like I had to be rebellious in order to be the person that I am today. If I didn’t take the risks that I took post-matric, I wouldn’t be the Bassie that you see in front of you today.
Would you say that being rebellious is a characteristic that shaped your career?
I wouldn’t credit my ascension with my rebellious phase but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t play a role because I met a lot of instrumental people during that time in my life. But I wouldn’t say it’s the biggest factor in where I am today.
You seem like you’re in a completely different space in comparison to that period in your life. How would you describe your mental state right now and how you manoeuvre life now that you have a career to take care of?
I’ve found that the higher you go, the more anxiety you experience. I wouldn’t say that I have a mental illness or anything but I do experience it, and sometimes it affects how I operate day to day. I could ‘shut down’ everything for three months because I’m not feeling okay and I don’t feel like doing anything. That’s the biggest change I’ve had to deal with.
Would you say that being thrust into the position you’re in right now comes with its own challenges?
Yes, it definitely does. Before all of this happened, I got to be a normal person. I didn’t have the burden of maintaining an ‘image’ or carrying the weight of expectations of those around me. I feel as though I can’t just rock up wearing jeans and sneakers anymore… it’s just… pressure.
Being a vocalist in Amapiano is different. Unlike other genres, the producer is the one who receives the spotlight and vocalists are sometimes forgotten. Do feel like that is an accurate statement?
Sometimes I feel as though we (Amapiano artists) do too many features. I’m not saying that collaboration is a bad thing but when am I going to have a moment for my music to shine? When is the song going to say Bassie featuring… I feel like that’s one of the challenges in navigating the Amapiano landscape. We (as vocalists) won’t get our own shine unless we drop our own music, and that’s why it was important for me to drop my own EP.
You’re still in the infancy of your career so I’m curious to find out how you want people to view you and your music?
I want people to see me as an amazing storyteller because that is the crux of my music. I love writing stories about my own experiences and sharing the experiences of those around me. It’s what brings me the most fulfillment when I create music.
What stories come most naturally to you?
Obviously mjolo! [laughs]… But there is so much more to it. Take the song ‘Usuku’, which just dropped with MFR Souls, I talk about loving the people who are dear to you before they are gone. Then we have a song like ‘Bathandwa’ where we talk about ukushaya umuntu nge’stina [laughs], but on a serious note, stories about love, in all forms, come most naturally to me when I write.
Do you feel like people expect you to talk about love all of the time because that’s what we’ve come to expect from you?
I think that’s one of the things that I love about Amapiano as a genre, we’re free to explore and our audience is open to new things. If anything, they’re always looking for fresh perspectives and stories. So no, I don’t feel boxed into singing about love.
What is the one phrase you would use to describe your career up till this moment?
Hmmm… Adiwele. “Everything is adiwel’ing” [laughs].
Lastly, if you could meet the Bassie from the future, what do you think she would say to the present-day Bassie?
WORK HARDER. DON’T LET YOUR ANXIETY GET IN THE WAY OF WHAT IS DESTINED FOR YOU. BE CAREFUL OF WHO YOU KEEP AROUND YOU AND BE YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND.
I don’t usually include an outro in my interviews, but this wasn’t a normal interview for me. At the beginning of this interview, I said that I felt like I only saw Bassie the brand, and not Bassie the person. By the end of the interview, my feelings toward her had completely changed. If anything, she showed me more than any other artist, that there is a human behind the brand. A person who experiences fear, love, anxiety, and every other emotion in between. I feel like this will not translate well in English so I’ll say it in vernac. Bassie ke motho. A person that’s giving their all in order to achieve their dream, just like every single one of us.
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