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by Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Induna: Backgrounding Love And Affection

by Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Induna: Backgrounding Love And Affection

Afro-pop artist InDuna, aka Tyson Nemukula, was born in South Africa and grew up in Te Whanganui-A-Tara. His bouncy afro-beat-inspired tunes mix well with hip hop vocals to create catchy, easy listening tunes. On closer listen Induna’s lyrics are vulnerable, insightful, and hold lessons for any who might not realise just how good we’ve got it. He talked with Jemilah Ross-Hayes about his new single, Love and Affection.

We last spoke to you about Black Man Running which has had quite some success on radio. How did that impact on you?

It was amazing to see Black Man Running do really well. I did not see it coming at all! It has made me rethink what I would consider being a hit or a good song.

I was originally not going to release the track because it made me feel so vulnerable and exposed. The last thing you really want is to get a negative response to something so personal to you that you’ve dealt with your whole life. In saying that, the release of Black Man Running has definitely made me more confident in myself, and my past, by putting that part of me out there in the spotlight.

Love and Affection has a dark meaning behind its catchy melody and happy tone. Can you help us grasp that subtext?

Love and Affection has me describing quite a heavy-hearted situation where someone has decided to give up on love because they’ve been hurt so much by it in the past. It progresses to a stage where this inability to see anything good in any relationship is blinding, making them into a selfish person whose only goal is their own success and what benefits themselves.

You’ll hear me singing, “Baby, don’t call murder on love and affection,” in the chorus, appealing to them to not give up and do this to themselves. I have experienced a similar situation after being really hurt, and I know how important it is to be pulled out of that mindset.

The beat is so catchy! Is it somehow awkward knowing people will potentially miss the lyrical intent because of that?

I feel like some people are definitely going to miss the meaning of what the song is really talking about, and honestly, that’s completely fine. Not everyone listens to music to focus on lyrics. There are so many songs that I’ve listened to that I did not realise the meanings of because I was too caught up in the beat. One big example is Hey Ya! by Outkast, a song I compare Love and Affection to. I think everyone was shocked when they listened closer to the lyrics of the song.

For Love and Affection I want listeners to enjoy the track for what it is to them. Whether it’s a catchy new beat to groove to or something they can relate to on a deeper, emotional level, the choice is up to them.

How does this song differ from your previous releases?

Well firstly, I’d say there are two different types of collaborations happening on this track. Number one would be collaborating with a reggae artist which I have never done before. And number two Love and Affection being my first collaboration with a producer. Everything up until now has been self-produced and I feel Love and Affection being produced by someone else definitely took it to another level.

Sonically, Love and Affection reminds me of another one of my singles, Smooth Criminal from 2020. It’s also quite a dancey track, and I hadn’t made anything like it in a while. My past two releases Black Man Running and Strange Fruits were expressions of what I think are serious and fairly personal topics and narratives. I think Love and Affection can be serious as well, but is intended to be far more playful than the last couple tracks.

Can you tell us a bit more about the input and selection of those other artists? 

I was fortunate enough to meet the very talented Jah Tung back in 2019 and have wanted a chance to make something with him. Love and Affection ended up being the one I was able to finally get him on.  Being a reggae artist, Jah Tung brought this whole new and unique tone to the track. His vocals melded so well with the beat and rhythm, and I honestly can’t imagine a more perfect collaboration for this song. The Jamaican sound hasn’t really found its way into my music before, but hearing it together now I think it’s fantastic!

The other artist heard on the track is Kasa and he has featured on several of my tracks before. Being one of my good friends it’s always so great to have him easily pop by the studio and have a play. He’s got a distinct voice compared to mine, so I love hearing how his deep vocals really broadens the tonal range of Love and Affection. Sonically, it adds a whole new section to the song and keeps it interesting.

Are there other inspirations behind in this song that differ from your previous work?

I’ve been really liking Koffee lately. I took a lot of inspiration from her for this oneIn her track, Toast, I really liked the tone and rhythm of the plucking that’s introduced in the beginning and carries on throughout the song. I feel like it’s a funky and catchy melody that creates a nice foundation to build on. I tried to subtly add something similar in Love and Affection.

I also really like another one of her tracks called Rapture. The guitar sounds so full and the effects on the vocals in the intro really got me. I really liked that it was almost afro-reggae. It was able to mix two genres that I like together and I wanted to give it a go myself. If you’ve heard this track you definitely will notice Love and Affection shares a similar sound and vibe.

From being inspired by Koffee and having Jah Tung feature on this track I reckon I’m starting to lean more towards reggae and Jamaican beats. I’ve previously been inspired more by African American artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, and I didn’t imagine mixing afro-pop with reggae would be this awesome. Otherwise I would have tried it ages ago!

How well do you think afrobeat as a genre is represented and received in NZ?

Back home we’ve always had this amazing afro music and I think it’s only starting to make its way to the rest of the world and NZ. I’m definitely seeing more artists creating afrobeat having mainstream success, and that’s allowed it to reach listeners who wouldn’t usually be into the genre. So, I reckon people in NZ do enjoy afrobeat, and there are definitely more spaces opening up for it.

As an artist who makes afro-pop, I do feel there are Kiwi artists these days who are interested in creating afrobeat, but in most cases end up leaning more towards genres like hip hop with slight hints of the afrobeat sound. In that regard, I don’t think there are enough Kiwis exposed to enough proper afrobeat!

Do you feel like your music connects you to South Africa?

Being South African, all of my music is inspired by my African roots, which in turn means a lot of my music relates back to my life in South Africa. I feel like I’m still attached to back home, even though I’m on very different soil.

In a way I guess I’m paying homage to the place I was born with my music. I hope people can recognise the South African side of me and maybe learn something new.

And alternatively, in what ways do you feel like your music connects you to NZ?

In NZ my music dreams took shape. Back in South Africa I found my love for music, but I never reached the stage where I wanted to create my own. Coming to NZ and being a Kiwi has allowed me to develop a side to myself that I didn’t know existed.

It took a shy, South African kid who lacked confidence, and created a talented Kiwi artist who is passionate about sharing his story through his music. And for that I will forever be grateful and thankful to New Zealand.

Do you sense a wider value in being able to share the experience of growing up in a quite different society through music?

I think because it’s a huge part of my past, it felt natural for me to bring these things up. I can definitely see how people can feel vulnerable sharing experiences like this, but for me, I feel it’s something others can learn from or get inspiration from. I reckon the large majority of Kiwis may not be able to directly relate to my experiences, but I think being informed about what life is like in some parts of the world is important. Plus if it starts new conversations and allows me to connect with people in a new way I’m all for it!

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