Nakhane is a multitalented artist whose creative prowess extends far beyond music. A singer, songwriter, actor, and novelist, the South African artist has been instrumental in changing the status quo in conversations about gender and sexuality.
Last month Nakhane returned to Australia for a string of Australian shows, including a unique, mesmerising performance at Melbourne Recital Centre. The performance celebrated a stunning return to music after a four-year break, marked by the release of their latest single, Tell Me Your Politik. Featuring Nile Rodgers on guitar and a ferocious rap from fellow South African artist, Moonchild Sanelly, the song is a call to action, demanding that prospective lovers be ideologically aligned; resolute in the idea that sex is a political act.
Reflecting on the unforgettable Elisabeth Murdoch Hall performance, Nakhane shared insights their many guises as an artist, their unique blend of music, activism and storytelling, and what’s up next for the rising queer icon.
The release of your latest single, Tell Me Your Politik, marked the end of hiatus from music. Can you tell us how it feels to be returning to music?
Nakhane: It’s both exhilarating and frightening. It’s almost as if one is coming out of hibernation, and as they come out of their hole the light stings their eyes.
Tell Me Your Politik features a bold message about sex and politics. How have your fans responded to this?
Nakhane: The majority of the response has been overwhelmingly positive, but I do believe there was a bit of whiplash from how brash the song is. That’s exactly what I wanted, though.
You have achieved success as a singer, songwriter, actor, and novelist. How do these different forms of creative expression inform and influence each other?
Nakhane: At times they cross-pollinate, at other times they have to be completely separated in order for me to focus. What it all boils down to, though, is the story and the medium that it’s dictating for me to tell it through.
Your performance at the Melbourne Recital Centre featured a mesmerising, polyrhythmic wall of sound inspired by South African Gqom and Kwaito. How have these and other musical styles and genres inspired you throughout your career?
Nakhane: I was raised on Kwaito. It was such ubiquitous music that one had to be wilful in order for it not influence you. Having spent some time away from South Africa I wanted to honour that formative music; in some way to transport myself back to the happier times of our country when this music brought so much joy.
In once sentence, what are you looking forward to in 2023?
Nakhane: I’m looking to more live shows (I really love doing it), and I just want to make more things. The process of making is the most important to me at this point.
Listen to Nakhane's latest release Bastard Jargon on Spotify.