Maverick Life


Everything and the kitchen sync — Maestro Mag’Oveni on his deep well of brainspiration

Everything and the kitchen sync — Maestro Mag’Oveni on his deep well of brainspiration
Bongane Vuma Mag’Oveni. (Photos: Supplied)

The mega music producer speaks about experimenting with beats on his childhood kitchen table, who inspires him right now and how artificial intelligence presents a huge opportunity for artists.

Bongane Vuma Mag’Oveni finds music more than just a way to jive. When played in certain ways, it can be a way to meet your mind or catapult you out of your body. 

When did you first identify as a creative artist?

I think I have always known that I’m artistic, but its expression came later, around age seven. Me and a childhood friend of mine, Sipho, used to buy empty cassettes to record songs from Yfm. At that time, Casablanca by DJ Machance was big, so we would play the recordings and practise the drum beats by hand and mouth, mostly using our home’s kitchen table as drums.

This was my first artistic expression as a kid, and from there on I started experimenting with radios in my father’s workshop. He used to fix electrical appliances, so I always had access to a radio and a battery.

This allowed me to record house and kwaito songs that were big at the time, and use the tapes for practice and for later listening. I have gained so much from music by just listening. 

Outside your medium, what branch of art most stimulates you?

I generally find inspiration from almost everything. Of late I have been dabbling with brain Hemi-Sync – the art of using sound waves to synchronise the right and left brain hemispheres to give rise to an out-of-body experience – by Robert Monroe.

I understood what was happening with this process because recently I was at a family ancestral ritual, and during the drumming and chanting by the initiate, who is undergoing training in the indigenous knowledge systems of Bantu people, I noticed a rather odd technique of playing the drums.

I saw a drummer playing a song with two hands, and the two hands were playing at different beats per minute and pitches, but the most interesting part occurred when my brain decoded the sound.

The music was whole and it created a meditative space to explore a possible out-of-body experience, and at the very same time the initiate was steadily falling into a trance. This is what in quantum physics they call quantum entanglement because our minds use what is called a frequency-following response to balance the two hemispheres when the sound is decoded.

Read more in Daily Maverick: World of inspiration – punk rockers 21 Children on their wide artistic influences

Now this is something outside the scope of modern-day music, but it made me realise that in the Monroe Institute they use binaural sounds to help one reach a state of oneness in the brain hemispheres.

In Africa it has been done through drums, and the mind performs this quantum entanglement.

Which artist has significantly inspired you, and why?

MadLib. He proves that sound is pure energy.

He can take any sound and turn it into something that makes you lose your mind.

What to you is art’s most important function?

To allow the art to speak for itself.

Which local creative people, in any medium, excite you right now?

Yusuf Tarr, Thulasizwe, LOOPMANDRAMAH, Teru, Singod, Blaze Kwena Jr, Menlilo Gerombi3, Appsolute With The Dream, Robert Roll, Modisana Ambivert clothing, James Amani.

What specific work, be it in literature, music or visual art, do you return to again and again, and why?

Deep house music by DukeSoul. The sounds have a healing effect that I have revisited on many occasions and every time I always gain new revelations.

What are your thoughts on the AI revolution?

It maximises the artist’s output compared with back in the day. AI is here to free artists. For the first time artists will be freed from rigorous tasks that take up the majority of their time.

For example, an album that could take three months to mix and master can be done in a single day.

To me it means an opportunity to explore the mind, because the mind gave rise to AI, so it needs to explore other frontiers of art while AI takes care of boring tasks. With the right intent and insights, AI can transform the world.

Any projects you’re unveiling or wrapping up?

I just finished a collaborative project with Yusuf Tarr titled MORPH 1, and a five-track EP with LOOPMANDRAMAH, as well as a poetry album with James Amani.

I’m working on a Bantu space odyssey instrumental album, titled Xibakabaka (Nkarhi, Vangwa-Notlulela), which is influenced by the Tsonga astronomy knowledge systems called Ntivo Tinyeleti. DM

Mick Raubenheimer is a freelance arts writer.

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

DM168 21 October 2023


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