Sometimes it pays to wait. Singer-songwriter Msaki and artist Francois Knoetze have been planning to collaborate for years, ever since their time studying Fine Art at Rhodes University. In particular, they wanted to make a video for ‘Dreams’, a beautifully haunting song of memory and regret. After a previous attempt didn’t work due to bad timing, they have finally unveiled their ambitious project. The video takes place on the streets of Yeoville, with Msaki’s subtly heartbreaking vocals paired with surreal images of performers in animal masks, creatures made from garbage and the singer floating down the road on a cardboard boat.
The striking film promotes her 2016 debut album Zaneliza: How the Water Moves. The release is a culmination of a long artistic journey for Msaki. She says that after years of running away from her true calling as a musician she confronted a personal situation where “everything fell away and all I had left was the music”. She played “in a brass heavy jazz band, an alt rock collective and alone in places that smelt like weed, unripe wokeness and confusion. In 2013 I recorded my first EP in a room with a boat hanging from the ceiling and called it Nal’ithemba.”
‘Dreams’ was one of her earliest works, initially inspired by the rawness of first heartbreak. But as the years have passed, it has taken on new layers of meaning. For Msaki the video shifted the song’s lyrics from the explicitly personal to broader questions of ” who can dream? who can follow their dreams? Whose dreams can become real?”.
Working with no budget, but vast creativity, Francois set out to realise images themed around ancient myths of the Great Flood. Shot over three days, the video incorporated interested passers-by into the shoot and features additional performances by Dennis Webster, Mthwakazi, Akhona Zenande Namba and Nomthawelanga Ndoyko. The result is a beautiful and evocative meeting of sound and image.