Andy Mkosi is a Cape Town based rapper and photographer who has combined these two talents on her upcoming EP 'The Audio is Visual'. A departure from her self-introspection, the EP deals with issues such as women abuse, self-love and racism, and sees her exploring new sounds and avenues of expression. We spoke to her to find out why she decided to focus on social issues, the use of her singing voice and new soundscapes and why she wanted to combine her music and photography for this release.
This is your 2nd EP & this time round your lyrics focus on the outward rather than the inward, what made you decide to go in this direction?
More than anything else I feel like this tape was driving by sound more than anything else, so within that I felt more comfortable exploring outwards than inwards. So as the process of diving into this new soundscape was happening, the only thing that made sense was trying to figure out and understand these things that were happening around me instead of the things that I as Andy encounter.
You describe yourself as a rapper but you sing quite a bit on this album. What prompted you to explore this side of yourself?
I feel like with hip hop or rap I was sort of boxing myself a bit. In the sense that when I do write raps I never get a chance to explore another sort of genre. That’s why even within these soundscapes that I’ve chosen I tried to move away slightly and ideally I feel like I’m meant to do music and not just box myself in this one genre. I feel like I can express more when… I allow myself to express myself in different forms of genres. If it’s singing or learning an instrument, it adds on to what I already know and widens the hip hop gap that I’ve fit myself into. So it’s trying to figure out where I fit in beyond just hip hop and rap, and finding other elements to add on to what I already have on the table.
The album will be released online with an accompanying, physical lyric book featuring your photos. What made you combine your photography and music?
It was a number of things. In conversation with a friend of mine who helped me put together the EP art, Tsoku Maela, he said that the only thing that drives now is that people are now immediately attracted to visuals. Bright visuals. And when you do have that, that’s when people listen to the music because the images are so attractive. I also felt that my music and my photography were living as islands. This is me attempting to bring them together, see how they can coexist and not use the one when I need it and the other when I need it. Why don’t I bring them to one platform and let one feed into the other.
You collaborated with a variety of producers to achieve your soundscapes. What was it like working with so many different people and how did you construct a cohesive sound?
It happened at different stages of putting together the EP. For instance Darkstar I’d met through Creative Nestlings, I didn’t know the guys I only met them in studio and then they play this beat. Then I had a verse that I had written and sat with for a while and it fit with this one beat that they played. They had to leave, so we didn’t finish the song and I decided it makes sense that this track be part of the EP. I met the other guys on Soundcloud. It made sense that I’m meeting all these people at various times but what they are doing is contributing to this picture that I already had in mind and this goal that I had for myself of shifting from this soundscape that people know me for. They were driving me towards where I want to be. Some of the songs were made in 2015 already but it made sense for them to belong on this particular EP. In a way it formed itself organically as much as the vision was there, all the elements fell into place by themselves. I didn’t search and go find these individuals that make these types of beats or soundscapes.
Andy Mkosi - Behind the Scenes - photo by Tseliso Monaheng
Can you tell us a bit about the track ‘Monkey’ and what it speaks to?
The songs speaks to self-love directly. The first verse speaks about the things that black people are currently going through and how outspoken we are about these issues. Then it flips on the second verse. It says that we’re going through these things, but how about we understand it? We are thriving while doing it. You have a lot of black excellence going on now. I could name a whole lot of people that are doing great for themselves. So in as much as we are struggling, I feel like we’re thriving as well and that song speaks directly to that. That you don’t need to ponder so much on the negative and that we are really succeeding with what little that we have. Yes we are going through things, but at the end of the day it’s us that are driving the culture. And these corporates and all of these big shots are coming to us for the ideas now. Black is driving everything around us. So that song speaks to that to some extent.
Are you going to be touring this EP?
We’re going to try and crowdfund to go to Durban. We’ve been invited to Durban to do some Bedroom Tours there and to perform at a fundraising festival put together by a youth magazine called JA. So if you’re reading this and you wanna contribute, holla! We wanna take it to Zimbabwe as well. People have really been responding well to this concept of the Bedroom Tours where we perform live versions of the songs in people’s rooms, so it will be great to take it beyond Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Cover image by Tsoku Maela