Former member of The Soil and The Fridge is not new to making hits. The ‘Akanamali’ singing sensation shares his passion for music and his success tips to young people
29-year old Samkelo Lelethu Mdolomba has come a long way in his music career and has shown that persistence does pay off…
Why did you choose the stage name Samthing Soweto?
The name summarises my purpose, which is music. Sam is short for Samkelo, thing stands for the music that I am making, which is my thing. And Soweto is where I am from. I was in grade 11 when I thought of the name because AKAs were popular back then.
When and how did you discover that you are vocally talented?
I always used to mimic other people when they spoke, which started to annoy them. Then I tried to do that with music because they always used to play it at home. Since I was very shy I never performed for anyone else until I got to high school where I met the band members of The Soil. I loved how they sang and I wanted to show them my talent and that’s what compelled me to sing publically. Not even my mom knew I could sing until the group did its first, sold out concert at Vaal University.
Which musicians did you look up to when you were young?
Arthur Mafokate. Plus, I remember wanting to be signed to his label, 999 when I was young
Why did you leave The Soil after making your debut album in 2011?
At the time I was with two groups, both The Soil and The Fridge and I wanted to continue with both groups even after being signed at Native Rhythms. I wanted to do so many things at the same time and I decided to leave. It wasn’t an easy decision that I made, but now that I am older and look back I understand where the recording label came from. I now do one thing at a time.
Then what happened?
I continued with The Fridge and we did our EP which we performed countrywide. I continued releasing music independently, as well as music scoring for soapies. I did features with artists like Kabomo. Early this year, I had my first sold-out show at the Soweto Theatre where I sold the album I released. I was then approached by other music labels who advised that I pull back the album and re-release it at a later stage with the right back up.
Making hits with your vocals, such as Joy with The Soil, isn’t new, tell us about the single Akanamali?
I recorded the single last year and then met Sun- El, who is a producer. I left the concept of the song, the lyrics and melody of the song with him and he turned it into what is played today. The song talks about the social challenges that come with love, especially money and friends. It seems like love is transactional these days and I wanted to mirror what we experience currently when it comes to relationships.
From your experience, what are the challenges of being an independent artist?
Being independent needs resources and financial backing. It needs you to be well connected and strategic on how to elevate your career. I spent many years trying to do this by myself but I have been lucky to get help from so many people around me. If you have a support system then you can be independent, which is not for the faint-hearted. But if you really don’t you have to understand the business side of music and weigh your options, such as researching record labels.
What can fans expect from you for the rest of the year and in 2018?
This year, I am traveling the country and interacting with the people who love Akanamali. And I am definitely releasing an album next year.
What is your advice to young people who want to be successful in whatever industry they want to venture into?
Start. Take it from there and have patience. Since life is fast-paced now we tend to want instant results but you really have to be patient in your craft. Understand that life is a process and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The important thing is to also sleep. Get as much rest as you can because you only cut your life short when you are always tired. Most people have great moments but don’t experience them, so savour every moment.
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