Nakhane Touré tells me that one of his favourite moments was getting booed while performing an opening set for Simphiwe Dana at Bassline. “I loved it. I felt amazing because that moment was meant to destroy me, but I rose above it. This is quite arrogant actually. But being booed, I felt like I was a notch up. It was like an initiation,” he says, smiling broadly. He says it’s not something he wants to experience again, especially since he will be back at Bassline on Friday, November 27, to launch his new EP The Laughing Son.
I chilled with Nakhané at a Rosebank coffee shop recently and discussed what he’s up to next.
Live SA: What can we expect from your new EP?
Nakhane: It’s a bridge between the two albums, in a way. I feel like it encapsulates who I was, who I am now and who I will be. The EP is sort of like the baton in a relay race between two runners. So the one runner who’s passing the baton is Brave Confusion (his first album) and the EP is the baton being passed over.
Live SA: So it’s a link?
Nakhane: Yes it’s a link. But it’s not any less important because if you drop the baton you lose the race. So it’s a cornerstone of the race.
Live SA: Was this always part of the plan?
Nakhane: Yes. But I’d always thought that the EP was going to be different. As the album came out, I still remember that I was living at a friend’s house and I was walking to Checkers and I thought, “I’m going to release this album and then afterwards I’m going to release an EP.”
But in my mind it was going to be a dance EP because I love dancing. It’s not a dance EP.
Live SA: According to a few interpretations your new book, “Piggy’s Boy’s Blues”, sort of had a loose ending. Is that how you approached this new project as well?
Nakhane: In this new EP there are certain things that I made a decision to be clear about, because of the political landscape that we’re in right now.
I feel like sometimes you have to be as clear as possible because certain things have happened.
And sort of hiding behind metaphors doesn’t help anyone. I feel like we live in times where we have to pick a side, and this EP is sort of very focused.
Live SA: What inspired the name?
Nakhane: So in the bible, in the Old Testament, Noah builds a vineyard when all the water has evaporated and he drinks too much wine and gets drunk.
But he passes out naked and his son, Ham, sees him naked and he laughs at him.
Well, it doesn’t say laugh, but different translations of the Bible have different interpretations and one of the most popular ones is that he saw his father and laughed.
Then he went to tell his brothers, and his brothers came to the tent backwards, closing their eyes so as not to see their father’s nakedness.
Noah wakes up and finds out the story and he calls Ham in and curses his fruit, his children. He says, “Your people will forever be servants to your brothers.”
Now a lot of conservative people of the Christian sect have said that curse is black skin. And they used that to justify slavery, apartheid, and a lot of things done wrong towards black people.
So I decided that I was gonna take this, reappropriate it, turn it upside down and instead of using it as a curse, I’d use it as a blessing, as empowerment.
Live SA: Is that what you do with the songs as well, talk about things that will make people uncomfortable?
Nakhane: One of the things I did when Brave Confusion came out is I told myself that I was not going to write music with an acoustic guitar.
I found what people adhered to, in those genres, a bit oppressive.
I don’t play with a band, I play with electronics and so a lot of people were like. “Ahhh it’s not real.”
Really? In 2015? So, I wanted to distance myself from that.
So electronic music has been freeing for me. I wrote all of this new material on a laptop, and I cabled using a keyboard and a laptop, just to make myself a little bit more uncomfortable.
Live SA: You perform The Laughing Son for the first time on Friday. Are you excited?
Nakhane: I think so. I am a little nervous. I’m really confident about this EP. It’s the proudest I’ve ever been. I feel like I’m becoming myself every time I create.
I feel like it’s a representation of where I am as an artist – from the video of “The Plague”, to the cover, to the music, to every facet of it. I really like it.
The Laughing Son EP is out on iTunes and the CD will be available on Friday during the launch at Bassline.
Date: 27th of November
Venue: Newtown, Bassline (Jazz Room)
Price: R100 at the door
Follow Nakhane Toure on Twitter
Images by Tarryn Hatchett