Who? The man behind South Africa's frenzied Shangaan Electro sound
Sounds like The Smurfs working with Ladysmith Black Mambazo
We cover some real innovators, but those who've single-handedly invented their own musical genre are few and far between. But that's what Richard Mthetwa – more usually known as Nozinja – has done. The 44-year-old South African is the architect of the Shangaan electro sound, a frantic blend of bubblegum bleeps (almost broaching the 190BPM mark) and the irrepressibly joyful melodies of traditional South African folk music.
It all began in 2004 when the former mobile phone repairs shop owner set up a studio in his native Limpopo region. "I wanted to uncover new sounds," he booms in his jovial South African accent. "And I knew if I really wanted to experiment, I had to get my own studio."
Soon he was at the helm of a hub for local musicians recording under the shangaan electro banner, and as he puts it himself, the sound spread "like wildfire." With videos on YouTube show-casing the frantic dance moves linked to the sound, international interest was soon piqued with media outlets like The Guardian and CNN rushing to document the movement. Since then there's been a genre-defining compilation on Honest Jon's, a remix album featuring Theo Parrish, Actress and Caribou, and a bat-shit crazy Shaangan electro live show which has travelled the globe.
Now Nozinja's in the spotlight with his debut solo album on Warp. "The album's different to the stuff people know. There' are fast songs and slower songs, too. You can listen to it in your car, or you can dance to it," he says. Maybe Shangaan Electro's in with a shout of capturing drive-time radio yet.
'Nozinja Lodge' by Nozinja is out on Warp now