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We’re all born creative and AI is nothing to fear, says storytelling-inspired Majozi

We’re all born creative and AI is nothing to fear, says storytelling-inspired Majozi
Following his dream: Majozi loves Robert Ludlum and musicians who tell great stories. (Photo: Andre Badenhorst)

Art can make a bad day good and a good day better, says singer who’s set his sights on Nashville. 

Singer-songwriter Majozi, who hails from Durban, saw his first full-length album debut in the iTunes Top 3. Now, with a new album out, he speaks to Daily Maverick about inspiration and doing justice to stories.

When did you first identify as a creative artist?

To be honest, I’m not even sure if I do now or ever really have. I’d like to think of myself as just a normal person with no more creative ability than everyone else. I believe that we are all born with some creativity in us. I’m just fortunate enough to find myself in a creative industry that is really appreciated by people worldwide, and to be able to explore that side of me while making a living out of it.

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

Stories have always stimulated me creatively, whether they are presented visually, orally or on paper. A good story always inspires me to change or appreciate something, which for me often means writing a song inspired by the story. Even if it’s just an idea or a phrase from it, those things can always turn into a story unto itself.

Which artists in that discipline have significantly inspired you, and why?

Well, for storytelling, my favourite author is Robert Ludlum. I’ve always been inspired to make people feel the same way I felt when I first read his books. I never wanted to put them down. Ultimately the Bible has always been my greatest inspiration in how I lead my life and how I approach my creativity. Most of the songs I write are inspired from there. I’m also inspired by other musical artists who are great storytellers, like Jack Garratt, The Lumineers, Stormzy etc, basically anyone who can tell a great story.

Majozi

SA artist, Majozi (Photo: Andre Badenhorst)

What, to you, is art’s most important function?

I would say art has to move you in some way. It can make a bad day good, and a good day better. It can help you not to feel alone in your worst moments, and it can be the soundtrack to the most precious memories in your life. Whatever it does, it has to make you feel something. Good or bad.

Local creatives (in any ­medium) that currently excite you?

Our local scene is on fire at the moment and it’s always encouraging to see how much the spotlight has been on SA lately. Artists like Msaki, Manana and Will Linley are truly inspiring, but there are so many more who are coming up every day. I’m mentoring a phenomenal young talent by the name of Tessi Nandi, who is well on her way to being one of the most exciting artists in Africa and the world. In the visual arts world, Karabo Poppy has always been doing amazing things — collaborating and doing amazing projects all over the world. Amy Ayanda is another artist whose paintings we have at home, and I always love seeing her art in the world as well.

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

There are some songs that I listen to again and again. “Time” by Jack Garratt is a song that I listen to often, to help me get out of a slump. It inspires me to do better and not be so hard on myself. In fact, his last album really inspired me throughout lockdown and still does to this day. There’s another song called “Get In My Way”, which always reminds me to not get in my own way and allow myself to try things and have the confidence to see them through.

Majozi

Majozi’s ‘A Great Exchange’ was released in November. (Photo: Andre Badenhorst)

What are your thoughts about the AI revolution?

I believe the AI revolution is nothing to be feared. We just need to learn how to utilise it to help us and make our lives better. I use AI in a lot of things and it’s really helped free up a lot of time for me to be more creative, and I can source information much faster than I ever could, so I love it. AI will never be able to replace true creativity. There’s something special that humans have that can’t be replicated. AI mimics it pretty well and it can be fun, but ultimately true creativity is more special and thus more valuable to people. AI is more exciting than scary for me, so I’m excited to see where this goes. As long as we keep an eye on it and educate everybody about the benefits and not allow it to replace us but just help us, I think we’ll be good.

Any current project you’re wrapping up?

I’m putting together plans to create my next project in Nashville, which is super-exciting and super-daunting, and also a dream for me. We are working on sourcing funding to make this happen, so if anyone reading this is interested in helping out, please contact us (at [email protected]). DM

Check out Majozi’s newest album, A Great Exchange, which hit the streets in November. At heart it’s a collaborative project — he worked with a slew of talented local artists and producers.

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

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