Wanting to provide the world with something new, Zimbabwean artist Thabo has taken a page from the future to deliver a fresh take on soul music. His latest, Your Mama, will drop May 4th and we talked about that, his roots, making the world a better place and then some.
Kendra: Your sound has been described as “future soul.” Classic soul is always going to be in style, but all genres need a makeover once in a while. When do you think that soulful music needed to step into the future?
Thabo: Somewhere between the arrival of Kanye and James Blake – you can track the changes that all music made after they came out. They both unpacked their respective genres beyond the boundaries of what was already understood. Emotive songs and ‘songlets’, robust sound paired with ambient minimalism, intricate yet simple musicianship. Together, albeit separately, they both established the new sonic standard for soulful music.
Kendra: You’re obviously thinking about the future and got us thinking about it with “Shallow Water.” Being Zimbabwean, is conservation something you think about daily?
Thabo: Being human conservation is a concern, however, optimization is really what occupies a lot of my mental real estate. Conservation is based on a diminishing resource and is the first step in halting that downward spiral. The next question to ask regards the very best deployment of that resource. For instance, life and our current understanding of it is a diminishing resource, we first have to decide to stop wasting it then, the next step is how to make the most of it.
Kendra: What little things do you feel people could do every day to help the world be a better place?
Thabo: Really accept that the world IS YOURS, everything else is secondary. Clean up after yourself especially when you’ve just used the toilet in a major way. Learn how to say someone’s name properly and use that name when addressing them. Pay compliments and attention.
Kendra: We can hear “Shallow Water” on your third release, Your Mama. How does this album compare to your last two for you?
Thabo: The goal of our music is to educate, empower and entertain. In that regard, Your Mama is the next installment in that direction.
Kendra: I saw you’re a fan of herbal tea. What flavor would you say Your Mama is and why?
Thabo: Redbush/Rooibos tea. In my Motherland that was the first tea, I enjoyed growing up. It always takes me there…
Kendra: For someone who grew up in the ’90s, I was squealing when I saw you just toured with Seal. Like, wow. How was that? Did he give you any advice?
Thabo: It was inspiring, humbling and illuminating. He didn’t give advice directly but showmanship is something I learned from watching him, there was a point in his set where he would get into the crowd and stand on a chair and perform a song or two from there. The audience loved that, so when you see me standing on a chair – you’ll know where I got it from!
Kendra: What’s next for you this year?
Thabo: More music.