Qadasi & Maqhinga, aka David ‘Qadasi’ Jenkins and Maqhinga Radebe, have three gigs in Cape Town from 12 to 14 May 2022. The Empangeni duo continue to bring their unique fusion of traditional maskandi and Western folk music to audiences around the world. Their debut album, Lashis’ Ilanga launched in 2016 to critical acclaim. Four years later, Ungabanaki, hit the shelves and won Best Traditional Album at the 2020 SAMAs. KEANETSE MOKHOTHU finds out more.
What will your playlist be for the concerts?
Our live repertoire consists of a combination of original material, traditional songs and a few covers of various South African classics. Our original material will feature songs from both of our collaborative releases ,as well as tracks from our solo albums.
Do you have guests accompanying you?
We will be performing as an acoustic duo without further accompaniment. Maskandi has become very commercialized over the years and one now has a preconceived idea of what it should sound like. Whereas maskandi was originally an acoustic style of music with the focus being on the musician’s vocals, izibongo (praise poetry) and guitar or concertina skills. We started performing together as an acoustic duo in 2013 at small local venues. Our duo subsequently took off from there and we predominantly perform acoustically both locally and abroad, taking maskandi back to its roots.
What’s central to your shared musical experience?
Although we both have very different backgrounds and there is a wide age gap between us, we both share a deep love for the same style of music – old-school, traditional maskanda. We hold very similar life values and have a deep mutual respect for one another, and this is something that has kept our friendship and musical partnership going strong over the last 12 years.
What quality do you look for in musical collaborators?
We perform predominantly as a duo, however when we have an opportunity to perform as a full band, we like to work with musicians and dancers who are passionate about their craft and exude professionalism. As a musician and vocalist, one needs to have an understanding of traditional scales/melodies. As a dancer, one needs to be skilled in the traditional dance forms, such as umzansi and isishameni.
How do you relate to the duo concept?
We approach everything professionally and we consciously market ourselves and our product and put much thought into our actions. Musically, we simply portray our true feelings for the music. In order to create a following and successfully reach an audience on an emotional level, one has to prove that they have a genuine love for what they do.
Do you stray far from the maskandi style?
We certainly make a point of being as creative as possible when it comes to our maskandi and western folk guitar skills and composition – something that happens organically, especially when fusing the genre’s. However, the essence of the music will always be rooted in the traditional styles of maskandi.
Do you think you have limitations?
Yes, and it is natural to have a degree of limitations. However, the mind is very powerful, and these limitations can motivate further effort and growth. In terms of limitations within the maskandi industry, new-age pop maskandi is becoming more and more prominent on the airwaves, and more traditional/experimental artists such as ourselves are not receiving a great deal of airplay. We are also unable to perform at many of the maskandi festivals due to the fact that bands are required to ‘mime’ and perform using a backtrack – something which we refuse to do. These are some of the challenges that have motivated us to become proactive when it comes to booking tours and releasing music in order to create an organic following.
Any plans for a follow-up album?
We are very proud of our latest collaborative release and will certainly look at a follow-up in the future. There is always room to expand and develop when it comes to creativity and composition, and this happens over time. At the moment we are both working on solo albums and hope to have them released before the end of the year.
What music do you listen to?
Apart from simply enjoying music composed by other maskandi and folk artists, we also draw inspiration from other musicians in the industry, as well as the pioneers of these styles of music.
Qadasi & Maphinga Cape Town concerts
Athletic Club & Social
Thursday, 12 May 2022 from 8pm
R100 or R120 at the door
35 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town
Alliance Française du Cap
Friday, 13 May 2022 from 7.30pm
155 Loop Street, Cape Town
Café Roux Noordhoek
Saturday 14 May 2022 from 6pm
Who: Qadasi & Maqhinga
Albums: Lashis’ Ilanga, Ungabanaki