Weekend Argus Sunday Edition

ZYO rides SA zeitgeist in first single

Cape Town – INSPIRED by Daft Punk, David Bowie and Depeche Mode, a Cape Town-based Afrofuturist artist has chosen to conceal his real identity from the world and perform publicly under the pseudonym ZYO.

Drawing on his European heritage and African roots he has fused these with afro house music and hints of pop and disco.

ZYO is originally from Joburg and after working on live music events at which he recorded the sound, moved to London to work as part of the sound team on the iTunes music festivals.

When he returned to South Africa 10 years ago he made

Cape Town his home and has been working in the advertising industry crafting the sound and songs for ads and locally- produced film and television shows.

“I’ve always been involved with music and when I was a teenager I was always walking around with my guitar. Last year I decided to create ZYO because it was a concept I had in my head for a long time,” he said.

He recently released his first single, We Are One, which also features Xhosa lyrics by Mpumi Sizani, which ZYO says contribute to his style aesthetic.

“I had the rough demo, which I did using Logic Pro in the studio, and wrote the initial lyrics, but I wanted an African vocalist and I reached out to my friends in the music industry, and Mpumi’s name kept coming up.

“She’s just got this incredible voice and you can hear me actually talking on the song. She encouraged me to do it. We had two studio sessions where she gave some ideas and then we fused things together,” he said.

The song aims to be a vehicle for change and focuses on what brings humanity together as opposed to social issues that cause divisions.

“I’m a big believer in Nelson Mandela and ubuntu was one of the things that came to mind when I was coming up with the ethos for who I wanted ZYO to be.”

ZYO says his name comes from the Zulu word “esizayo”, which translates as “future”, something ZYO chose to fit into his style.

“I’m optimistic about South Africa and the name was a reaction to all the negativity going on in the world. Africa is being looked at in a certain way right now with our vibrant culture and I’m passionate about my promotion of Africa.”

ZYO says Afrofuturism is a reaction to the cultural zeitgeist and the theme encapsulates his style, from his music through to his custom-made outfits in bright colours and patterns influenced by cultures throughout the continent.

“My Afrofuturism is reminiscent of disco music and visually appealing, which comes through in the colour and design.”

He is working on a further three singles and says an album is in the works, but believes that the way the modern music business works singles should be his focus through working with more local artists.

“Entrenched in the ethos of

ZYO is collaboration. I’m hoping along the way to uncover and provide a platform for unknown artists. There is so much talent here, and I would be so honoured to provide a platform for it.”