Artist of the Month: Kazi Ya Sanaa.

Year 2019, guitarist Lebogang Kaziwa or simply Lebz and vocalist Moulan Jacobs formed a jazz trio alongside bassist Karabo Welcome. Their fusion of old school jazz and alternative music, brought to life a sound that has since gained some recognition within the Indi music community.

In the first year after the group was formed, they released a couple of singles before eventually releasing their long-awaited first EP titled, Prephase, in June 2020.  The release of the 5-song EP gave audiences a glimpse into the type of sound they have been working on. With over 10,000 streams on Apple Music and over 5,000 on Spotify as well as a feature on Apple’s Music’s alternative playlist, it is safe to say the band is on the right track.

Kazi Ya Sanaa are the latest feature of our new Artist of the Month series, below I got to chat with the group about all things ranging from band dynamics, genre boundaries to their songs and sound.

Interview Questions by Tsoarello Nkabinde as answered by Lebogang Kaziwa, Kazi Ya Sanaa – guitarist and flutist.

Is there a story behind the forming of the band?

“Well, Moulan and I had originally been playing in a different band, and when that band split up, we sort of started hanging out and jamming a couple of her favorite songs. Eventually we got a gig or two. We then decided to write songs together and sort of see where things go.
In December 2019, that is when we started recording the music for our first EP. At that time, I had already met Karabo (who is now our bassist), but we were in different cities and had not really decided to work together.
Early 2020, the three of us, including Thomas (who usually plays drums with us) had a gig and after that gig we decided to work together. Obviously, the pandemic happened and that was that, but luckily at the time Moulan and I had already recorded the EP, so we worked on releasing that.”

Why jazz music? was it something that was thought of before forming the band?

“I wouldn’t say we play jazz. Far from it. I’d probably say we play alternative music, and we have jazz influences especially the stuff we are doing now. Our sound has also developed over the years, so no it was not something we thought of before forming the band.”

Do you guys think background has some influence into how you make your music?

“Definitely. We all write music based on our experiences, at least right now.

With the age difference between you guys, do you think it has played any role in how the music is articulated?

“Yes, we are all at different stages in our lives, but that helps us keep the goal in mind. But more than anything I think it’s the respect that we have between us that helps us play the way we do. We all listen to each other, and that helps us keep a healthy relationship.

Please Take us through the recording routine…

“I guess it depends on where and what we are recording. How it usually starts is that someone will have an idea and they will share it via a WhatsApp voice note or something. Sometimes we share ideas when we rehearse. Everyone will then listen and make their own additions and shape the song. Again, in this process we communicate our preferences and everything. While we are jamming the tune, Moulan will usually sing some melodies, and start writing lyrics. Once that is done, we structure the song in terms of verse and chorus, and we add sections like solos, or cuts and just generally try to make the music come alive. Next, we rehearse the song until we are comfortable that it is sounding how we want it to sound. Then we will try and organize a studio session and record it.”

What inspired the Prephase EP, was it a compilation of songs or there is a story behind it?

“We wrote it and recorded it in a month. It was December so we were meeting everyday to get the music done. We recorded as much as we could and once, we were done, we sat and picked out which songs could go on. So I guess it was rather a compilation, that we tried to tell a story with.”

I’m really fascinated by song titles, what’s the story behind Saturday Are the Worst and Strange Man?

“Saturdays are the worst, we wrote it on a Saturday morning. Moulan and I were both hungover and tired. Moulan always talks about how people live for the weekend, so she made reference to how Saturday can be such a nice day, but its over before you can blink.”

“Strange Man, we wrote it in 2021. We actually didn’t have a title for that song. Funny story is we actually struggle a lot with titles, that we end up titling songs way after we have recorded them in studio, even after mixing and mastering. That was the case with Strange Man. We named it literally when we were about to start marketing the release. But I guess that is because we want to give 100% with everything we do, so we don’t just want to give a name for the sake of giving it.”

Follow and catch up on Kazi Ya Sanaa and some of their work on the following media and social media platforms:

Kazi Ya Sanaa ‘Work of Art’ in Swahili