Bonj speaks on challenges of staying creative during lockdown
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Johannesburg - Bongiwe Mpanza, better known by her stage name Bonj, is a singer-songwriter who is making a name for herself as an artist.
Her soulful sounds are a blend of stance music, soul and electronic.
“I am hoping I was able to articulate this on my project, A Journal.I feel like I did. I chose this sound and decided to go this route because these are the sounds I grew up listening to. These are the influences through my journey as a writer and as a performer,” said Mpanza.
The opening track of the 7-track EP is titled Fly Away. The song is a fusion of electro, pop, and soul music elements. She said the song also lends itself as a love song.
“It is quite a personal one for me because I was actually starting to open myself up to working with new producers after having built up quite a close circle of people that I had been working with for 10 years. I was just breaking away from my comfort zone, that is what the song really means to me.”
Since then Bonj has been working with different producers and artists, allowing herself to write more music with talented people that have contributed much to the entertainment industry.
“Opening myself up to writing with other people, especially with this song, it manifested new possibilities for me. I started to see myself beyond the small circle that I created. I also have an opportunity to explore and experience other people’s talents and have them contribute to my journey.”
In addition to getting over her own fears, Bonj has allowed herself the space to work harder and make more music.
“The song is already resonating with so many people. For this project I also wrote in isiZulu. I don’t do that a lot. I am really glad I was able to have the confidence to do that on this song.”
She describes herself as a singer-songwriter who has a passion for jazz, soul and electronic music and has always wanted to make music that has all these influences.
“My voice lends itself so easily to this music. I fell in love with big, unique voices and sounds. I love being innovative in our music industry.”
Staying creative through the lockdown has been a challenge for Bonj.
“I spent a few months in silence trying to process everything. It made creatives really think about their passion and livelihood. It was very brutal in the beginning but I am glad I went through those months because I was able to have a moment of clarity. I got back into creating music and I was fortunate to have a team that was pushing me and driving me to continue despite what was happening around me.”
Her stage name Bonj came from a teacher mispronouncing her actual name, Bongiwe. It stuck around long enough and she eventually kept it.
“I ended up owning it and it is a nice play on my actual name.”
For people who will be experiencing her music for the first time, Mpanza would like them to be open to the music.
“If you are a lover of jazz music, R&B, kwaito, house, electronic and soul music, the project is made for you. People can expect a whole lot of moods that everyone can appreciate,” she said.
Fly Away is available across streaming platforms.