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Our October Cover Star, Msaki opens up about her approach to activism

Msaki is intentional about using her voice to effect positive change. And her latest double-drop offering “Platinumb Heart Open and Platinumb Heart Beating embody her approach. Featuring protest and love songs, she says the colour of the sound is red and gold, like blood and minerals.

As the Founder of ALTBLK, she created a space that’s focused on supporting independent musicians and cultural workers to expand their income streams. “We help them with creative, financial and emotional support to release work. And we curate shows to help alternative, independent artists find opportunities and like-minded people. Just because an artist is independent, that doesn’t mean they should be alone.” I ask her if Covid-19 has altered her perspective. “I don’t want to do anything out of a fear of lack. Promoters need to be coached back into seeing our value and subsequent growth. I think people have also come to appreciate the role of art in their lives after living without a live spatial experience of it for so long. I can feel it when I’m on stage. People are savouring my offering. I appreciate the stage more too. Those Instagram lives were a lot!”

There was never any doubt Msaki would have a successful music career, but did she ever imagine she’d be this big and impactful? “Not even remotely. Mine seems to arrive as these achievements unfold; sometimes, even before I get a chance to dream about them.” She’s art in motion, and as she continues to make an impact through her craft, she reveals she’ll also launch a micosite. “You can expect multi-disciplinary expression and forays into Web3. And my touring still needs to kick off internationally, even though we’re still getting such great invites to spaces worldwide. Most of my plans are for 2023. My song writing presence is gaining a good tracking in places such as Los Angeles, Nashville, Austin and London. I want to keep building traction.”

Some might see her as a national heritage symbol, but Msaki asserts she’s too young for such titles. “Part of my work is to serve living legends in the form of the elders in our music community, such as Madosini and Madala Kunene. Part of my interest in searching and Ukuzilanda is to keep learning about my language and intentionally expressing these sonic inheritances that are becoming more intangible.”

Most of us are reflective at this time of the year, and I’m wondering where her headspace is at. She says she’s thinking about balance and wondering what real

success looks like. “Being productive and how burn-out isn’t sexy. Trying to hear my parents’ voices, even if I’m busy. Being available for my community, but knowing when I must use my energy for my growth. Blind spots and accountability and remaining teachable, even if people are putting me on a pedestal. How pedestals must fall... yuck! My kids. How different they are from each other and how happy they are. How they get me and my gift, despite being so young. I’m also reflecting on internal balance and how we get multiple chances to heal. I’m reflecting on the kindness of that.”

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