Battle of the BandsJohannesburgMusic

meet the joburg finalists: yanga yaya

November 27, 2019

On Saturday, November 30th, four acts will perform at the AFROPUNK Joburg Battle of the Bands Finals, at the Up Pops Afropunk space in Braamfontein.

Grand Prize at the Battle of the Bands is the once-in-a-lifetime chance to join the star-studded, line-up of the 2019 AFROPUNK Joburg, at Constitution Hill, on December 30th and 31st. But the Battle of the Bands is not only an opportunity for a big break most musicians seek throughout their careers; it’s also an occasion for South African (and southern African) artists to showcase their music, their creative spirit and their artistry to the AFROPUNK audience. So this week, we’re spotlighting all the finalists, asking them questions about who they are and what this moment means to them.

Though he now lives in Cape Town, Yanga YaYa describes himself as a “nomad” and says that the “new age soul” that he creates is meant to expand the definition of Black music, and to tell stories while he and the audience dance. Read on!

What is you name, your age, and the instrument(s) that you play?

My name is Yanga Madlala. I go by the artist name Yanga YaYa. I’m 29 years old and I’m a singer/songwriter, as well as a dancer. My only instrument is my voice .

Where are you from?

I’m a bit of a nomad. I was born in the Eastern Cape in Umthatha, and then moved a bit in the country and spent most of my years in Durban, where my family currently lives now. But I have made Cape Town my home for the past five years.

What are your favorite things about where you are from?

Favorite things about Durban is, I’d say, the people and how they move. Zulu people move like water. Favorite thing about Cape Town is the people and how expressive they are style-wise, and that generally the place encourages being unique and creative. They both have great beaches [and] I love being on the coast.

Give us a short description of the kind of music you make.

I call the music I make new age soul. It has many elements to it. It’s an eclectic sound that is very rhythmic and infused with dance elements and alternative soul.

If there was one or two core thoughts/ideas that you want your music to convey, what are they?

One aspect I’d love my music to display is the vast spectrum of Black creativity and Black masculinity. I want to show that there is no one “Black“ sound. I kind of want every person to be able to plug in and out of music at their will. It’s also highly emotive in terms of lyrical content. I’m a sensitive person that feels a lot, and I put that into the art. I want that to show — and for the audience to feel very comfortable being immersed in feeling.

What are your musical dreams and aspirations? Not fame-wise, but creatively. What do you think you can do with music?

I have so many musical dreams. I’d obviously love  to gig across the world and exchange artistry with different creatives in their fields. I love collaboration. I want to write for artists, and to get into creating soundtracks for film and TV. Then I’d dig into being involved in development of programs for the youth who are interested the arts.

Name one artist that you would like to collaborate with? What do you think that collaboration would sound like?

Yikes just one? Nao , it would sound like the most well-written urban electronic tune. Then we’d have to have Solange, Thandiswa Mazwai, Wizkid, Ari Lennox and Charlotte day Wilson on the remix.

What are you most looking forward to if you win the Battle of the Bands? What do yo think winning could do for you?

I’m looking forward to possibly sharing parts of myself with the biggest audience I’ve ever performed in my entire life in music. If I could kill AFROPUNK Joburg and be invited to perform at other AFROPUNKs next year, that would be major. I’m also high-key hoping I get to connect with the international acts and their tech teams and developing relationships with some of them and just listening and learning .

Anything else you want to say to the AFROPUNK audience as a way of introduction?

I’m Yanga. I have so many stories to tell. I can’t wait to tell them all, while we dance.

Go support Yanga Yaya at the AFROPUNK Battle of the Bands Joburg 2019 Finals, at Up Pops Afropunk in Braamfontein, on Saturday, November 30th.


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