Sing until you can’t breathe

Johannesburg-based Langa Mavuso’s biggest dream is to change people’s lives with his urban soul. We met up with him in London recording his debut album. We haven’t stopped listening since.

You have an incredible voice, when and how did you discover it?

Thank you. I discovered my voice at the age of 9 when I was asked to sing the greatest love of all by Whitney Houston. I sang each note on pitch and in key. I was completely surprised by it and from then on I made it my mission to master the gift I was given. 

You write as well, how would you describe that process? What are your songs about? 

I wouldn’t say I have an exact cyclical process of writing. I usually take a couple away from writing to live. I allow myself to be completely immersed in life and all it has to offer. The music is inspired by those experiences and the people in it. My songs are mostly are about love. The different phases of love are something I love to share. The joy, pain, loss and discovery of it.  It’s all just love music I guess. 

How would you describe your sound? What are the influences?

I would describe my sound as urban soul. A sound characterised by a soulful tone and delivery but instrumentally could be quite experimental and modern. I’m influenced by all the sounds I grew up with, soul, jazz and popular music. I also studied classical music in high school and jazz at the university of Cape Town. The influences can come from anywhere these days. It could be a song I hear on radio or even something I hear while at a play. Music is all around us, we just need to listen carefully for the sacred gems.

You’re born in Johannesburg, South Africa. What was it like growing up here?

Johannesburg is a cosmopolitan multicultural melting pot. It’s a city of dreams and possibility. I loved every minute of growing up there. The people, the cultures and the unfolding of western influence was also quite interesting. The tumblr age was my favourite because I saw people start to explore more of the creative expression and infuse the African identity into it too. It’s not a perfect place but it’s my favourite place on this planet. 

What do you love about the city?

The possibility. You can come from the township and become a millionaire. If you’re driven and work hard nothing is impossible there. It’s not who you are that defines you but who you want to be because that’s what will inform how you live your life. 

Has it inspired you in any way?

It’s taught me all I know. I’m inspired by all that it encompasses and I live my life as an expression of it. An urban African jungle where you can be it if you believe it. 

Style and fashion come easy to you, who did you learn it from?

My mother is the most well-dressed woman I know. She never needed tons of money to look good. She just always knew how to put a good look together. We spent a lot to time shopping together and I guess I picked up her instinct for picking up classic pieces and something that pops.

Who is your biggest role model?

My mother. She doesn’t come from much but she worked hard and gave us a great life with not the deepest pockets.

You are recording new music in London, can you reveal anything?

I’m finishing up my debut album and I’m also exploring my opportunities to share the music globally. I’ve released two EPS before this but this is my first full record and I’m excited to share the amazing music I’ve created at home in South Africa and here in London. 

What is your relationship to the city?

London feels like the gates to world for me. It feels like a place where preparation meets opportunity. A place that could possibly change my life forever.

 Do you have a place you always return to here? 

It’s not a specific place but I’m also looking to hear new artists here. The music scene is quite exciting here. I get to see a lot of live acts that I wouldn’t have the chance to see if I was in Johannesburg.

Anything that inspires you with London?

I’m really inspired by the way people from all over the world come here to change their lives. It seems like a city of possibility like my home Johannesburg but with a lot more resources which makes some things easier. 

What inspires you in general? 

Life and love. People are really something and the stories we all have to share with one another are quite special.

What are your biggest dreams?

I want to sing until I can’t breathe anymore. I want to sing on big stages and small ones too. I want to change people’s lives in a real way with my music but also through what I make from it. I want to share my gift with the world and let it be a gift to others too.

Listen to Langa’s music here.