Mx Blouse is a Johannesburg based artist, known for fusing kwaito, hip-hop, deep house and other electronic music elements in their body of work. Mx Blouse has performed at some key music festivals in South Africa, including Smoking Dragon, Basha Uhuru and Oppikoppi just to name a few and they have recently released their debut EP titled ‘Re: Mx’.
We had a conversation with the Haute Couture Pantsula about their latest project, their creative process and influences – here’s how it went:
IceKream: For those who’ve never heard of Mx Blouse, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Mx Blouse: I’m Mx Blouse, Mx Blouse is me. I make music that is a cross between mostly kwaito, house and hip-hop, but a lot more than just that. I listen to a lot of different genres and I like trying to mix them all up to come up with a sound that is uniquely mine. Some call my music alternative, but I think there’s nothing further from the truth.
It’s a very pop-friendly sound, even though it’s not what you hear every other day. I love fashion, I like looking cute, so I do all of those things over and above the music as a way of expressing myself. I grew up ekasi, but I’m not one dimensional and I refuse to be. Ngithanda izinto and I like to mix it all up.
IceKream: When did you start making music and how did you get into it?
MxBlouse: My music journey started about four years ago. I was frustrated with my former career as a writer and a consumer trends researcher and analyst. I was bored and, quite frankly, depressed, so I ditched the comforts of a nice salary and security for poverty and happiness doing what I love most. Music is something I’ve always had at the back of my mind but I never thought I’d actually do it until I found a producer – Joni Blud – who was willing to work with me.
We did a few tracks together back in 2016, put them up on Soundcloud, a few bookings came in as a result, and that’s when I started thinking ‘well, maybe I can actually do this’. I haven’t looked back since.
IceKream: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
Mx Blouse: It’s a cross between kwaito, hip-hop and dance music. At times it sounds more kwaito than hip-hop and vice versa but it’s very middle-ground, I would say.
IceKream: How long have you been working on your new EP, Re: Mx? Can you share a little bit on your creative process when making the EP?
Mx Blouse: I’m always working on new music, so there wasn’t a particular period that I dedicated to working on this project. The first track on the EP that I recorded was ‘Papgeld’. It’s about a year old, and I used it as a gauge for the kind of sonic direction I wanted to take with my music, but I recorded a whole lot of tracks before I settled on the six that make up the EP.
I released ‘No Match’, the bonus single, earlier this year with an awesome video by Director Kit, and then the rest came out three weeks ago. I worked on these tracks with Thor Rixon, Paprabyl and TZARA, who are also artists whose work I really like. They have been integral in shaping my sound.
With all the music recorded before I decided what tracks would go into ‘Re: Mx’, my aim was to celebrate kwaito as my heritage as a black South African youth. I love that South African music has become so diversified but I do think kwaito needs to be preserved and built upon because it is so uniquely us, that the world needs to hear us as authentically as possible, especially now that the internet has opened up the global industry to African talent in the way that it has.
We need to sell who we are, and not just sell them back our version of what they give us if that makes any sense. There’s space for that, sure, because we live on the global world and influence each other across cultural lines, but that doesn’t have to be at the cost of who we are.
IceKream: Where did the name of the album come from?
Mx Blouse: ‘Re: Mx’ has a double meaning. On one side it literally means “About Mx”, and then it also reads ‘remix’ as an acknowledgement that I’m mixing a whole lot of influences into one.
IceKream: How would you compare the creation of your latest EP, Re: Mx, to that of your previous sound when you did WTF Squared?
Mx Blouse: Yo! That was so long ago. I think at the time I was just still playing around, I had no idea what I was doing really. I knew I had a lot to say but I didn’t’ quite know how to articulate it or how I wanted to sound, but it was fun just taking the plunge and doing it because I would have never understood who I am as an artist otherwise.
IceKream: What influenced the shift from hip hop to a more kwaito-focused sound?
Mx Blouse: Like I said in (4), I think it’s important to give the world something that is uniquely us, so as much as I love hip-hop I still felt like I was emulating a culture I only understand through the television screen and media. I’m more comfortable doing something that takes that into consideration, but also adds a bit of what my life experience is.
I grew up in a township, and you know, kwaito was ubiquitous. It is in the language of the streets that we speak, not merely what we pick up on TV. Not to shit on anyone and what they are doing, because I think American culture is so drilled into us that we can’t help assimilating, but I think we ought to make space to celebrate who we are in addition to that.
IceKream: What’s next? What sort of things do you see yourself doing in the future?
Mx Blouse: I’ve been working on further defining the kwaito sound for myself, and that means taking all my other influences into account. I love party music, and nothing, to me, says party more than deep-house, so I’ve been working on a lot of music that taps into that, but I also have a lot of rap heavy kwaito stuff that I’d like to share. I’m definitely moving towards a more dance-oriented sound, but as always I want to make it uniquely mine. I really don’t like the idea of sounding like someone else. It bores the shit out of me.
5-Scoops-of-Facts You didn’t know about Mx Blouse:
Scoop 1: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world — who would they be and where would you take them?
I’d love to have shisa nyama no-Rihanna just because she’s hot as fuck and I think she’d actually be down. I think, like me, she likes things but that doesn’t mean she’s too bougie for ikasi. That’s the vibe I get from her, you know. Also, I just want to hang out with Rihanna, if that’s alright.
Scoop 2: Who are your creative influences/inspirations?
This really changes from time-to-time. Right now I’m loving people like Peggy Gou. She’s hot as fuck and her music is so nice. Local artist Athi Patra-Ruga is forever an influence. I love subversive, playful art and I think he does that just right.
I’m obsessed with looking at Instagram accounts by brands and creatives in Korea, Singapore and the east in general. I love the Marvel Cinematic Universe because, OMG! Comics! What the fuck! I love set designer Es Devlin and everything from the 90s, early 2000s kwaito era. I recently watched a docuseries about Bill Gates and I’m in awe of the work he does in the innovation space in order to make the world a better place.
I don’t care if I ever become a billionaire but I’d love to do something that changes people’s lives for the better one day. Like, you made something that turns human waste into energy and works as a water purification system too? Dude! I want in!
Scoop 3: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Anything by Rihanna or TLC.
Scoop 4: Bungee jumping, sky diving or getting inked?
Is it weird that I like things but I’ve never done a single one of these? Can I pick them all?
Scoop 5: In terms of career, what did you want to be when you were a kid?
The first thing I ever wanted to do was become a teacher. Like, how Bantu education of me, right?
Listen to Mx Blouse’s debut EP below:
Photographer: William Rice
MUA: Palesa Mkhwanazi
Clothing: Viviers Studio