south african artist pure opens up about letting her freak flag fly
By Sound Check
February 1, 2018
By Shiba Melissa Mazaza, AFROPUNK contributor
Going by the PURE moniker, vocalist Purity Zinhle Mkhize has found her wealth within. Born to a Somali father and Zulu mother, the very idea of her was one that would set her apart in huge ways; it would take years of discovery and dereliction of her internal voice in order to cultivate the creative force she finds she can personify as PURE.
“Generally I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be a performer. I’d jump on the table and sing for my family after the 7:00 news; that was my time to shine before I went to bed. And I remember those moments being the ones where I truly felt connected to myself… Obviously as the years progressed I realised that this was my calling.”
Despite constant rejection of her unorthodox ways growing up, she embraced the things that made her. Scattered across her entire body are piercings and tattoos, pops of color and texture, as well as a flourish of black lines where her eyebrows used to be. By her side is the budding version of herself; her 5 year old daughter, who’s curiosity is stolen by the microphone in my hand. Purity has named her Naledi, the isiZulu expression for “morning star.”
“As I grew I realised my calling was in music and not so much acting. At that point I had developed this really crazy sense of being that was totally different to what my parents had ever experienced or come into contact with. For a very long time I had to fight my way forward with my truth, and knowing that whatever this thing is that people are so weirded out by made me so happy… And it was hard. My family almost disowned me at some point because I dressed weird and I thought weird and I questioned everything… And when I finally got into music, I realised… I’m a fucking punk!”
Heavily steeped in Durban’s punk scene as a member or both The Pranks and Fruit & Veggies, Purity‘s expressions blossomed during her time amongst her bandmates, but with this came an onslaught of potentially damaging situations addled with high-intensity performances and long, drug-fueled nights. It was time for a shift. Not long thereafter, Purity decided to purge that which was holding her back, and released her first solo project entitled No Secrets. Her internal journey had begun.
“When creating I sometimes feel like a vessel through which many other voices use to transmit their messages. I sometimes get the sense that creating isn’t even about me, but about connecting those voices to the people that seek them. I believe that art is transcendental and that music specifically has such power to manifest some serious healing. HEALING is the main point of attention that these voices usually focus on. I’m always finding myself writing outside of myself, sometimes not speaking as the affected heart, but the heart that we all should aspire to be. It’s the perspective that comes from another place, a place that knows [what is] beyond pain and anger.”
Waking up each day to the sound of Muizenburg’s shoreline, Purity has been hard at work preparing to share a slew of new works with Cape Town and the world. Purity’s tumultuous, energizing, anti-establishment past seems a far cry from the balmy, resounding lightness that comes with her solo projects; however surprisingly, the two live well together in her likeness. She followed No Secrets’ visceral, honest portrayal of herself with Treasure, which addresses the light and dark we all carry within ourselves.
“I’m emotionally connected to myself, and my life and my music and what I do… and being a mom. I’m passionate about these things. I’ve been trying to reach into myself, and about a year ago I stopped drinking and taking drugs… and all the things that were distracting me from myself. I’ve always been pulled away from myself until now, but I’ve come full-circle. If we all aspire to firstly, just become better people, and aspire to reach out to our higher selves, then it’s easy to be humble. It’s easy to listen. It’s easy to reach a place of understanding… a place where things can be resolved. A place where we’re working toward something, rather than a place of “I’m in pain. I want to fight. I want to shout.”
Catch the full interview at Cape Brown with Globalize Yourself Stereo, here.
Above photo: Shot by Rudi Geyser
Make Up: Richard Wilkinson
Styled by: Gavin Mikey Collins for Thiiird Magazine
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