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This native South African musician and actor is making a name for himself on the world stage. Nakhane Touré the 30-year-old with the distinctive voice stars in The Wound (Inxeba), a 2017 South African drama film directed by John Trengove. Nakhane feels he can relate to his character as someone who is “an other” and “marginalised”. The film was screened at the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and the Panorama section of the 67th Berlin International Film Festival.

The release of his second album in March saw an album that was very close to his heart. Nakhane says “I wanted to write about my family and the churches I grew up in”. You Will Not Die, documents what he describes as “a few childhood torments”.  The award-winning singer and actor caught up with Alt-A.

What attracted you to the character you play in The Wound?

Initially it was not about the character more than it was about the story, but I wanted to be involved in it, in whatever capacity as I really liked the script. Originally the director (Trengove) had approached me to write the score. After I read the script and with the idea that I could possibly play my character. I really liked how complicated it was, I liked how multi-dimensional he was as a person that he was capable of violence and an incredible amount of love. But he was quiet but also had an entire world that was incredibly noisy. I was interested in his complexity as a human being.

What prompted your move to London, apparently when the film was released in South Africa there was a backlash?

Well no, I did not leave because of that. It just happened to happen when the backlash started. Prior to that my manager and I had talked about moving to London before.  My label is in Europe and it is easier for me to move back and forth, to tour, and just to do a promotions etc, etc.

How are you finding London?

I love London I really, really enjoy it. I spoke to my mum the other day and she said if you can live anywhere right? I said yes that’s true. Because yeah sure I go out but that is once a month most times I am in my apartment reading and watching movies, creating something or working. I do like London, but I love South Africa too. I think I am beginning to realise how similar people are, maybe the geography is different, the city is different and how they are as people is different. But deep down inside people want the same thing. And you start to find it easier to navigate this deceptive thing that poses to be difference.

Tell us about the release of your second Album?

This is mostly about my formative years, it was recorded in London but written in SA Johannesburg and released March 16. I knew I wanted to write about my family, the churches we grew up in and I wanted to write about me leaving Christianity.  Understanding the psychology of my psychology on why I made the decision and how I made the decision. That had a lot to do with me going back to my formative years, and I would try and remember what I liked about being a child and trying to draw from that. It was kind of traumatic because there were a few childhood torments that I did not want to revisit but I had too. But that made it more interesting in terms of subject matter.

Leaving religion must have been a difficult choice and how do you feel about the decision now?

Religion is a difficult thing to manage, freedom is incredibly sensitive. If you have been a believer in something your entire life and you leave, then it creates a gate and hole in your life that was filled by faith and a believe system. You find yourself a little bit wobbly and unbalanced. It was a difficult decision to make but it was a decision that had to be made. I never look back to regret that decision. I look at life in all its complexities and try to accept I do not have an answer for everything any more. Before all my answers were steeped in Christianity, how do you go to heaven, how do you go to hell. But now things are a little bit muddier, as an artist I find that space to be more interesting than the space where I felt like I knew everything. It was too simple.

What are your musical influences?

I love music, I love sound, I love melody. I draw influence from everything I listen too. OK when I was a child I grew up around a family that sang, my mum and my sister all sang in choirs, they are all classically trained opera singers. So, I grew listening to Mozart and Handel. Then my mother introduced me to Marvin Gaye and the Ojays. On some level that music built the foundation of who my public is musically. Marvin would always be important to me because he was influential in how I understood men to sing. When you looked around my mother’s choir you had an idea of how men should sing, it had to be deep. Marvin Gaye made me question that idea. Your voice did not have to be one thing it could be many many things. Growing up I discovered the internet; Myspace and the doors just flew open. I discovered Nina Simone, loads of West African blues, I discovered Fela Kuti, and artist that I would not say mother was not a fan of, more she had not told me about, like Radiohead and David Bowie, James Brown. All this stuff is a cocktail that I do not think about when I am writing but when I listening to the music I make I can hear a plug.

Did you get any professional training?

I knew I could sing at a young age, maybe 3 years old. I knew I had potential. My aunt used to teach me songs I could always sing in harmony. I don’t remember learning pitch it was something I could just do. At school I gravitated towards singing. I did plays at school and in high school I did drama. I tend to do the first year of a course then leave I like learning the basics.

How do you relate to your character in The Wound?

I related in terms of where he comes from we come from the same space. I relate to him because he is an “other”, he is a marginalized person in a wider community. I related to him as someone struggling with the concept of manhood. I relate him because he is conflicted, and I was like that for a very long time. I felt I could climb through the window and become this character.

What do you want the audience to come away with?

That there are many different people in this world and they are many many stories in the world. I am hoping this film will give people a voice.

Going forward what is in the pipeline?

I am just working on my music, a lot of fun and hard work. I am proud of my music and my album, I am enjoying being on the road. I am enjoying meeting loads of different people and I hope that I am touching them with my music.

What would you say to anyone entering the music industry?

Be ready to give up everything unless you do it will not give you anything back, as Fela said you do not play around with music, powerful stuff. Commit or leave it.

See Also

What do you know now in your 30’s that you did not know in your 20’s?

It gets better it does not get easier. You look around and you can cope a little better the older you get. You do not take anything too personal and people are too busy living their own lives to focus on your bulls…..t.

The Wound was released (UK) on April 27 – Certificate: 15 – Director: John Trengove

Starring: Nakhane Touré, Bongile Mantsai, Niza Jay Ncoyini, Thobani Mseleni, Gabriel Mini, Zwelakhe Mtsaka   Run time: 88 minutes

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