One of the baddest things about Africa on My Sleeve is connecting with creatives of African descent in the diaspora and finding out more about their craft. Recently, through the powers of social media we were introduced to Felix III Mpunga, a Zimbabwean native who now calls the streets of Wellington home. Usually when we connect with artists there is some sort of assumption that their sound is hip-hop but not Felix. Describing he's sound as being governed by soul, pop, folk, melancholic chords and electronic dance music; this eclectic young king dropped he's EP 'The Age of Uncertainty' in March 2015. Peep below for our Facebook exchange.
AOMS: Hi Felix, it's been a pleasure connecting with you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, kind of like an elevator pitch?
Felix III: I am an ambitious day dreamer by heart who spends time thinking months ahead of new ways to engage with with world creatively. Recently, I finished my tertiary studies and will be graduating with a Bachelor of International Relations from Victoria University, Wellington. I am a musician, I write, produce, record and perform my music as well as co-manage 'Without Borders' a record label based in Brisbane, Australia.
AOMS: Congratulations on your qualification! Now to ask one of the questions you probably get asked a lot: where are you from? Additionally since the streets of Wellington are now home, where are your local spots.
Felix III: Thank you very much. I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe and spent my teenage years in New Zealand; as a result I have spent half of my life on two sides of the world. In terms of my local spots, well I like skating to Oriental Bay and writing music near the water. Other spots in Wellington are on Cuba Street as walking on that street gives way to a lot of inspiration. To let loose you can find me at Betty's.
AOMS: Cuba Street is amazing, not only the Op Shops but the chic bars you find! Apart from the inspiration you find on Cuba Street what would you say influences the sound or is the source of your inspiration?
Felix III: When it comes to the inspiration, I am inspired by young people who drop everything to pursue their passion in the music industry. Additionally, it is the young people who are able to convey a message that resonates with people they have never met. Truly, the hunger and desire to make a mark on the music industry is a driving force in my music.
AOMS: That is true, there are a lot of young musicians who are using their sound to inspire, motivate and as a tool for social commentary. In terms of your sound, what governs it and what is your philosophy?
Felix III: My sound is governed by soul, pop, folk, melancholic chords and electronic dance music. In terms of philosophy it is: No one ever stood out by sounding the same, so I bend the rules with my voice, the instruments I use and change songwriting structures.
AOMS: So true; as an artist who refines their sound to set themselves apart from the rest, who would you say are the five artists that inspire you?
Felix III: Raury - he’s a young man with a powerful message; Kanye West - he’s outspoken and creatively limitless; Tame Impala - their excellent songwriting and immersive sound; Alabama Shakes - the intensity and lyrics that resonate; and Sampha - the soulful singer who’s voice can strike a chord in your heart.
AOMS: Now I need to go check out those artists and get familiar! Now tell us, how did you get into music?
Felix III: Growing up, I always used to watch videos of Michael Jackson, Eminem, Aaliyah and Sisqo on MTV. I also had a walkman (cassette) and discman (CD) and would always be listening to music then when I turned 13 I had a guitar which I used to play covers with and upload them on YouTube. It wasn't until 2014 that I wrote and recorded my first original track then decided to write and EP which has opened up many doors since its release in March 2015.
AOMS: That is really fascinating how sometimes on our journey it takes us a while to finally get to what we are doing in the present. With that in mind, where do you see yourself in 5 - 10 years?
Felix III: In 5 - 10 years I want to accomplish the following - being a successful musician, playing at festivals, running my own clothing line, being the owner of a successful independent record label, and giving back to my country through development projects. I would also like to travel and work for an NGO as a journalist.
AOMS: Those are great goals and we wish you all the best on your journey.
Press play to listen to Felix III's debut EP 'The Age of Uncertainty'.