Soulroots is a Dutch artist and producer who recently released his “Voices Of Liberation” LP that featured many collaborations with some special vocalists. One such vocalist was the artist Mnqobi Yazo with “Lahloma”, and we spoke with them both recently to see how the collaboration came about…
Hey guys, how are you doing?
Soulroots & Mnqobi Yazo: Hey Deep House London, we are doing great! Honoured to be interviewed by the one and only Deep House London. Thank you for asking us!
What is the South African house sound, what makes it unique, what principles is it based on, how does it differ from US and EU house?
Soulroots: In my defence I am not from South Africa and I live in the Netherlands, so I can only answer this question from my own point of view. The South African House sound is recognized by its authentic drum(s) and its pattern, the use of pads/strings to create a certain atmosphere, obviously because of the African vocals, and it just has a specific energy that really attracts me to the sound. It differs because of its warmth and in my opinion it is less straight forward than US and EU house. SA House doesn’t necessarily has to ‘bang’, you need to feel it in your heart and once you do that you will love it.
Mnqobi Yazo: I am not really active in the South African House scene. I consider my style as Afro Pop, but as a musician I understand House and am always eager to learn and explore into other genres.
Did the pandemic and being at home more give you a different perspective on the music you are making, the sound, the style, the vibe?
Mnqobi Yazo: On my side because I didn’t have any chance but to stay at home, what I did was to stay in my studio and create more music and give myself time to learn. Which before the pandemic everyone was up and down doing gigs all around the country and the was no time to learn and expand… So from now there is no excuse to all the musicians but to deliver more beautiful music after this.
Soulroots: In my case it didn’t change my vibe. I think the SA house sound showcases a wide variety of energies. It can be Soulful, Melodic, or even Techy. It has always been that way and it is how I like to create music. It all depends on my vibe.
Why now for a new album how long was it in the works, was there a plan for it from the start? How did you approach it?
Soulroots: I have been producing since 2015 and the instrumental of Lahloma was actually one of the first projects that I finished, back then the track was called ‘Empire’. In 2018 I had a gig in South Africa (Artizen Lounge in Durban) and Mnqobi’s manager send me a DM on Insta to see if I wanted to do a collab and I decided to send Empire and after a couple of days I received the vocals, thus Lahloma was born!
Next to producing and DJ’ing I also work as a promotor for my event Liberation. In 2018 I did an event at Annabel in Rotterdam with Boddhi Satva, Rancido, Djeff, Hyenah, Zakes Bantwini and more. A couple of months after the event I sent a message containg an instrumental to Zakes and asked if he wanted to collab on it. He was keen and so we created Love Again.
After these two tracks I got very excited because somehow I was able to work with (to me) big names in the scene, I tried my luck and contacted Toshi. After Mabali I felt something special was going on and decided to create an album of 10 tracks with my favourite vocalists.
Why do so many collabs on this album? Why do you like working with others?
Soulroots: Collaborations are special to me. When I create music the product is something that’s just mine. But when you collaborate with someone you get inspired by their vision of the track. You might end up changing the track a bit, or you are instantly impressed by how the collab turned out. What you receive is always a surprise and I like that!
Did you work together online or in person? Does that matter for the result of the track?
Mnqobi Yazo: My manager told me about Soulroots and that she would like us to do a collaboration and she sent him a DM connecting us and he emailed us a beat and that’s how the Lahloma song was born. For me it really doesn’t matter, if you give me a dope beat like Soulroots did and I’ll surely give you the best vocals too.
Soulroots: As I told before, I created the body (instrumental) of Empire/Lahloma back in 2015. When Mnqobi’s manager contacted me I checked out Mnqobi’s profile and I heard his voice for the first time. I can still remember I was impressed by the richness and power of his sound. It was then an easy pick for me to send Empire/Lahloma because I believe it’s a powerfull track as well. It turned out to be an amazing match.
Who writes the lyrics, is the content important or is it more about the sound?
Mnqobi Yazo: I wrote the lyrics of the song and I always believe that content in writing is very important because in these songs we giving people life and motivations. So it’s always important your pen game speaks the truth to the people.
Any favorite tunes on the album, ones you are most proud of?
Soulroots: My favorite tune, it may sound cliché because he is also part of this interview, is Lahloma with Mnqobi. It was one of my first projects that I finished, and it was the very first track that somebody sung on. Also in 2019 Black Coffee played it in a soldout Paradiso (Amsterdam) and I was attending the event. That is one of the highlights of my life until this day. One day (or a week) later he played it in Zurich and also recorded it on his IG story for over a minute. Oh, btw, as you might have noticed I am a big fan of him!
Are you planning to work together in the future again?
Soulroots: We haven’t honestly actually discussed it yet. But I am definitely game! How about you bro?
Mnqobi Yazo: Indeed yes and even doing more shows together.