With a versatile voice and activities in a variety of projects, Durban-based singer/songwriter Nipho Hurd doesn’t want to be boxed in by any particular genre. “You start boxing in how creative you can be. You’re always thinking in this genre format and the ideas are coming in another format that you’re not appreciating,” she explains. Nipho also notes that she can take her music to an array of audiences because she’s doing something for everyone.
Having grown up with her Grandmother who was a sangoma, Nipho was surrounded by the traditional music performed at ceremonies and would take any opportunity to lead these songs. Her father’s side of the family is also musical, with him having attended choir school and both her cousins being musicians. “I was surrounded by music, people who make music, but still I didn’t really think I was a musician until way later into my teens.”
While Nipho enjoyed singing it was only at an audition for a high school drama play which turned out to be a musical that she realised others enjoyed her voice too and that it was something worth pursuing. Drawn to the jazzy hip hop from the likes of Common and Lauren Hill, Nipho also holds vocalists such as Frank Ocean, SZA and Macy Gray in high regard, although Amy Winehouse is her ultimate inspiration.
Having released a handful of tracks to date, Nipho is looking to release a number of projects in 2019. “I’m in a band with my cousins and we’re called Secret Garden, we’re about to drop our EP later this year. I’m doing another EP with a girlfriend of mine. I’m also going to be releasing my EP this year called ‘Nipho’ and I have a project with a producer/rapper. Plus I’m starting work on another project with my flatmate.”
Building her songs out of a combination of poetry written without melodies and freestyle verses delivered in studio, Nipho’s songs deal with her life and how she experiences it. “What I don’t do is go literally into things. I find a way to make it all like nice where it’s not abrupt and in your face, but you can sense the mood from whatever I say.”
With her music, Nipho hopes to help people be true to themselves. “One thing that I like more about my music than I like about myself is that there’s no pretence. I think that’s one thing I want people to realise. [We] don’t have to pretend; that anything and everything that we’re feeling and that we’re going through is [something] to be ashamed of and who we really are is not something to hide from people. To just embrace self-love and honesty with oneself and other people and to realise that we’re going to die one day and may as well really live our lives.”