ZIMDANCEHALL chanter Enzo Ishall, who dominated the airwaves over the last year with his catchy tunes — Kanjiva and Smart Rinotangira Kutsoka — saw his hard work paying off recently when Kanjiva won the Song of the Year award at the recent National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) ceremony. NewsDay Life & Style (ND) reporter Freeman Makopa recently caught up with the 24-year-old Enzo Ishall (EI), real name Kudzanai Stephen Mamhare, and below are excerpts from the interview:
ND: To start off, how do you feel after winning big at Nama?
EI: I am happy that I won this award at Nama. It means a lot to me. I want to thank God and the fans who continue to support my music. I now have four awards and given the short space of time that I have been in the industry, I really want to thank the Almighty.
ND: Can you take us through your music journey?
EI: I started music in Sunningdale, but we did not have proper studios, so I had to walk to Mbare. I recorded some of my singles in Sunningdale.
ND: How did your parents respond to your inclination to music?
EI: My father was strict about sending us to school and doing music was not on his to-do list. So I did my “O” Levels and passed five subjects before getting seven points at “A” Level.
My father wanted me to go to university and barred me from doing music, but something came up and I did not take university classes. Instead, I continued with my music. At first, I wanted to do law. That’s why I did Arts subjects at “A” level. But now, should I go back, I will do a degree that is related to farming because it is lucrative. If I get my own farm, I will be doing my own things. Farming is profitable.
ND: Who are the brains behind your success?
EI: Kanjiva was the song that made me popular, so I can safely say that’s the one that gave me a breakthrough under the mentorship of DJ Fantan and Levels of ChillSpot Records. And these guys made me who I am today because ChillSpot grooms the best talent in the country.
ND: There are often claims that musicians’ managers tend to pay musicians peanuts while pocketing huge profits. What has your experience been like?
EI: If I had issues with ChillSpot, I would have left. These could be people who want to tarnish the image of managers and record labels because I am getting more than I deserve, and I am happy here at ChillSpot Records.
ND: Questions have been thrown around on whether or not you will be able to maintain the high bar you have set for yourself. Will you not be just a passing phenomenon?
EI: You should not compare me with other artistes who failed because I am different from them. I have a Nama award now, which has been won by a few in Zimdancehall. Given the number of hits that I’ve done, I am now ranked behind the likes of Winky D, Killer T and Soul Jah Love. That’s my new class. I can say that I have reached another level.
ND: Have you had any shows outside the country?
EI: I was supposed to have done a show in China, but failed due to delays in the processing of my passport and visa, but we are set to do shows in South Africa and the United Kingdom soon. So that’s where we are headed for with Kanjiva.
ND: Besides music, what other interests do you have?
EI: I usually play soccer, spend time with my friends, and I also enjoy spending time with my child Nenyasha. On other days, I will be with my friends in Sunningdale.
ND: How do you come up with songs?
EI: I just compose songs from what I hear or see in our surroundings. On Kanjiva, Fantan was always telling me about a popular dance in Mbare called Kanjiva, so I just came up with lyrics that suit that type of dance and boom, it became a hit. So music is in me.
ND: Any new projects that you are currently working on?
EI: I am working on a gospel song in which I want to thank God for my success, and I am doing another song that touches on social issues, titled Muroyi. It talks of real life experiences.
ND: Gospel music is often associated with Christians or churchgoers …
EI: Yes, I am a member of the Salvation Army church, but nowadays I’m not attending church due to some commitments. But I will go back soon. That’s the reason I always give praise to God for all my successes. I’m promising fireworks. My fans will love the gospel bit because it retraces what I went through.
ND: Any word of advice to fellow artistes?
EI: Upcoming artistes must resist those who want to pull them down, they should stay focused. To my fans, thank you for supporting my music. I will continue producing the best for you.