Its all Natural with Chantty The Tswanshall General.
Sound Engineer, Music Producer, Reggae Dancehall Artist, Jazz Xchange Ambassador, Record Label and Studio owner, Visionary and Tswanshall pioneer - Phemelo 'Chantty Natural' Moikabi indulges us with his views on music, life and the joys and tribulations of working in the taxing music industry.
He coined the phrase Tswanshall, a Setswana infused Reggae sound which has grown into a movement and he continues to record, work as a sound engineer, produce music under Live Wire Records with recording artists Jahnett Tafari and Conscious Reggae Vibes Band already signed under the label. He set up Live Wire Recording studios where they do live and digital programming, provide session musicians, mixing and mastering, sound and band hire.The same studios where he produced the first ever Botswana folk guitar instructional audio CD which accompanies the groundbreaking book - 'The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana by Tomeletso Sereetsi - composer, guitarist, producer, arranger and singer who preserves musical heritage of the native cultures of Botswana. The list of artists and projects he has produced - Kabo Leburu, Flexy, Eureka, Real Magosi, Ntirelang Berman, Mophato Traditional Group - tell a back story of a musical journey that birthed Tswanshall.
Hear it and feel it here in - Mmalefatshe.
Born in Lobatse, a small town in south-eastern Botswana, Chantty Natural would listen to records of 1980's acts which his elder brother would bring when he came home from work in the South African mines. It was his mother who bestowed on him the gift of a discerning listening ear as she always filled the house with her melodic singing. But it was when he first heard Shabba Ranks and Yellowman that his life and musical direction changed. Since then he has never looked back.
He is currently collaborating with Tidal Waves - The hardest working reggae band in South Africa - producing Tswanshall Riddims. He has previously worked with the band on their Album -Tomorrow Starts Today - in 2016 where he mixed and Mastered the full album at Live Wire Recording Studio in Ramotswa, Botswana.
It is clear to see how Chantty Natural has easily become a highly significant part of the creative landscape of Botswana and beyond. Here he shares with us his story in this journey. Naturally.
Behind The Music
Who is Phemelo 'Chantty Natural' A. Moikabi.
Born and Raised in a small Town Called Lobatse. Started as a dancer at an early age and later moved to the microphone/singing in variety shows in Lobatse. Grew and became music producer and sound engineer. Currently operating Live Wire Records in Botswana.
You’ve been in the business of making music for years, how did it all start for you?
Basically, I have been in music practically all my life. However, it became official when I recorded my first album titled Seponono Same at Daggie Digital Studios, Gaborone at the age of 20. Recorded two albums in Turffontein and later found out that the studio moved while I was back in Botswana. Never got my music till date. That is when I decided to open my own studio Live Wire as I had been searching for the owner of that studio for two years. I continued to drop singles until I recently dropped an EP titled Tswanshall.
How has the journey been? Do you feel that you are at a place where you can comfortably say “I have arrived”?
The entertainment industry is a taxing one. Most who prosper in it are driven mostly by passion than money. So, for me I can say in terms of skill and experience I have accomplished a lot but I still need to make useful connections which can help me take my talent to the right platforms.
You sing in your native language Setswana, and you have coined the term and Jah GeneTswanshall? How did that come about?
- Tswanshall is coined by me Chantty Natural
-The Slogan Gatoga Mogala, meaning let the music play By JahGene [RIP].
I saw it fit and relevant for me to sing in my native language mostly because people around me (Batswana) wouldn’t understand reggae in Patois. I wanted bo Mama le bo Papa, bo Granny and any other people to understand what I’m on about.
Later Tswanshall turned into a movement, more and more artist started to sing in their native lingo and the rest is history, our story; and judging by the crowd’s reaction every time you perform, they are loving it, Especially Mmalefatshe and Ke Wena Wa Ntlha.
What was the inspiration behind those songs?
The Inspiration is a woman. I have to restore the dignity of a woman with good lyrics, not derogative words, paying my respect to the life giver, the woman / wombman.
When you are onstage and see people singing along to them or any of your songs what goes on in your mind?
The feeling is unexplainable, it always blows me away and humbles me at the same time. It’s All Natural / which is Love, which is One.
In general, paint us a picture of the Reggae Dancehall scene in Botswana? Who should we look out for?
Reggae Dancehall music scene here in Botswana is at infant stage on the media and the music industry which I know for a fact is targeted strategically to keep it down, but we as reggae musicians/artist are there working tirelessly.
The Artist to look out for is the Trio: Superior, Chillyman and Fayah Snow inna combination, another unique band called Basarwa.
What are the challenges and advantages of being a Reggae Dancehall Artist in your country?
The challenges here being a Reggae Dancehall Artist Is that the industry doesn’t give Reggae/Dancehall a chance to compete with other genres on Radio, TV, Sponsorships. Even though we are equally good or better. The mindset is totally wrong towards reggae and dancehall in Botswana.
What upsets you most about the music industry in general?
Hiring is not done with merit, it’s all about side deals and friendship’s bookings.
It’s all about Personal preferences not the masses/ what is on the ground.
The Jazz X Change and IRD Experience
The Jazz X Change Experience
Chantty Natural + Purple Groove Live at Massa Square Hotel Jazz X Change
Let’s talk about your performance with Jazz X change.
Jazz X Change came about at a meeting at RMC marketing for a sound hire job meeting.Over coffee I reasoned with Mr. EL-kindly Rahman a.k.a Mr.E that I would like to grace the Jazz Exchange one of the days with my performance. He asked for my music, I played him my song less than 30sec he paused the music, in my mind I was thinking many things, wrong choice of song, maybe he is not a fan of Reggae Music. He called Nkosana his inhouse sound engineer. My mind was all over with thoughts, he played it to him. Nkosana 30 sec he asks who is this, I said it’s me, he said ‘wow’, interesting. The Big man Mr.E said: “as much as I thought, I want him to be in our show, what do you say Nkosana.” He said a definite yes. They played it again and I suggested more songs, we played a few. They asked when I can be ready, I said: “Mi ready now just schedule me any time.” Apparently the band which was supposed to do the next gig was falling short on some areas, I was put on their date, and the contract was on the Table. We Started the following week for daily rehearsals 15 days before the show.
And your performance how was the creative process behind the collaboration. Jazz meets Reggae.
It was a good learning passage which I wish most artist can take. Jazz X changeis a musical workshop on its own which at the end of it they give you your media package from photos and the video of the show to use on our own to market ourselves.
How was it like performing for a different crowd? Or should I say a different setting from the usual reggae/ dancehall scene.
It was a nice corporate setting, seated crowd. And 95 percent of people who came never knew my music before and they are now loyal customers to Tswanshall.
Any similar projects like that in the pipeline? And how are you hoping this will have an impact on the future of Reggae Dancehall in the country.
I believe from every event I do there has to be at least one positive out of it. From my performance with Jazz X Change, it was agreed that I’m the ambassador for Jazz Exchange. Plans were to extend across Africa. We were to run my events starting with Mahikeng, Rustenburg, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Zambia, Kenya and Malawi. At the moment we still looking on investors and Partners.
Then there was the International Reggae Day Virtual Performance
Yes, Yes Yes
How did that come about? Give us the low down, cos you represented well!
I man Give thanks for appreciating my works MzansiReggae.
I got a phone call from Advocate Ras Sipho Mantula. I remember him say: “ Tau there is this IRD coming in 3 days man and I will highly appreciate it if you could take part on our live stream, though I contacted you just today.” I told him right away that I’m interested.
Now, remember lockdown is the new normal, and it was the week Botswana was in shortage of Petrol/fuel. We were supposed to shoot around 11am but we ended up shooting at 10pm after everybody managed to get petrol to reach from the city to my village. The shoot ended at 2am, the band left and we started Editing, and I thank 13TRIPIPES CO. and Fire Worx Marketing &Distribution my media team, that worked tirelessly on this one, we only rested after everything was complete to submit. We sent Advocate Ras Sipho Mantula the material, he called in few hours later and told us the IRD panel in Jamaica are happy with the material and that’s how we got in. We never imagined that it was meant for the main International Jamaican Live Stream.
Live Wire Records
As a Sound Engineer and Producer, do you do all your mixes or you prefer to work with other engineers?
Mostly I do my mixes and only when doing Riddims, one or two prefer to do the mixing themselves, it is always good to work as a team to go forward, I don’t mind working with other engineers.
Do you find that you are a difficult artist because, you know or have an idea of what your sound should sound like?
Lol, Mzansi Reggae do you know me as difficult Artist? I give others a chance too but if not good enough we have to say it and rectify, Afterall we can’t let loosely on the Brand.
How do you handle the pressures of being an artist, producer and engineer?
Too much pressure but we tough up, when you doing what you love Time and energy management is never a challenge. You work day in and day out to achieve goals.
Which Artist would you like to mix for and why?
Legalyz Muzhik I think she just a brilliant vocalist. I just want to give her music a certain feel on the mix and mastering. In future I would like to Work with a lot of Artists like, Ashantikal Morobi, Zoliswa Kawe, Thandile Blaq Supreme Jim, Stepping Razor Band, just to mention a few.
Do you have a record label, tell us about that and artists who are signed under you.
Live Wire Records under Tswanshall PTY Ltd.
- JT Musiq [Reggae]
- Aleiron [Jazz/Afro Soul]
- A-Tang [Afro Soul]
- Conscious Reggae Vibes Band [ JahGene and Elda Ras Kb]
What are you currently busy with, after the release of your latest videos
We currently busy with
JT Musiq [EP]
Tidal Waves in Collaboration with Tswanshall on Riddims
What’s your advice for upcoming artists?
Follow your dreams. It might happen overnight or take some time to be on top, don’t give up on self and leave room for critics; get what will help builds you. Lastly if you use backtracks, always use a new backtrack Cd for a performance to avoid disappointment. Check if your gadgets are working before you leave to the venue. Imagine driving for about 500 km and you find gadgets not working at the venue. hahaha that will be some some. Always check before.
What can we look forward to from Chantty Natural?
I’m working on my Album – for 2021 at the same time downing a Reload for My EP Tswanshall to be released on digital stores with additional songs.
Kids, how many do you have? Do you want more/ how many do you want.
I have a beautiful daughter she just turned 9 months recently, how many do I want hmmm, my wish it to have 7 but that’s not enterally my stake alone.
What keeps Chantty Natural awake at night?
Being a good father to my daughter and pushing my music career
What/Who inspires Chantty Natural to get out of bed every day?
Life and Music does all for me
If you can have your fans remember you for one thing, what would it be?
Tswanshall, the way I do my craft on the basis on writing, a man who believe in love, a man who believe oneness.
Behind The Mixing Console
EVs, JBL or Hybrid? To me, a PA System is as good as the person on the controls| engineer, but my personal favorites are QSC,EV,RCF And JBL …
Digital or Manual desk As a sound engineer, I use Both, it depends on the event, a digital desk is best when u have different band with different taste and number differs in that position. I can save each band scene or profiles and can move from Band A,B,C to their preferable settings as from the sound check.
Auto tune or No Auto tune? Why? Auto tune does not do it for me but when and if I use it, I make sure it is not too audible. My believe is making music real as I’m a live act, to me the recorded vocal has to be close to the live performance
Live band or Back Track? Why? I favor Live Band than a back track, when I’m performing live its where I get freerand, I can always play around with the dynamics of the music and arrange the music accordingly to the mood of the event.
Hardcopy or eBooks Hardcopy, it exists as a physical object which is tangible and valuable
Keep Safe Rantshonyana, GIVE A HELPING HAND WHERE YOU CAN. SELFLESNESS IS KEEN. Love yourself.
Much love TO All:
Tswanshall Arists, Selectors and Fans, MzansiReggae, Zwesh Fi Kush, Ras Mwalimu Kush, Gunz Selector, Ras Pablo, Ras Sipho, Queen Selector, Selector Dimo, Empress Supreme, Champion Nok, Rapza Presedential, HabbaKok DJ, Sanctified dub, Thandaring Dawter, DJ Sbuda, Sanzalicious, DJ Blakka, Law G Kal DanDada, Khush Media, Sounds of Edutaiment, Nalinga , Prince Shapiro, Jotwa, Daddy Crucial, Polarity. DJ Sanchez, ThuliThulz, Selector Wiseman, Lioness Productions.
If Mi never mention Uno, feel no way we one.
Tswanshall Love eeeeh!