Ever since I listened to Solarkenji’s album notes, I will not lie, I have found myself going down a bit of a rabbit hole as far as South Africa’s underground music scene is concerned. Rather than stumbling upon this musician’s music on my own, I was persuaded by his manager to give it a listen and share my thoughts on what I heard- and, now that have, I can say that many of the songs are songs that I would have, unironically, added to my own playlist, even if I stumbled upon it by myself. I really like Falco Holmz’s work, and it is not about ‘supporting your own’ because you are South African, I think it is about giving praise where it is due. I love that I can’t tell what genre each of his tracks fits, it leaves listeners with a great deal of discernment to search through.
Bubblegum Club catches up with artist Falco Holmz who shares interesting facts about the creative vision that guides his music, and the early influences and life experiences that have shaped his career to be what it is.
Ruvesen Naidoo: How did you discover your musical talent, and when did you realise that music was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
Falco Holmz: My journey with music started when I was 12 after my school’s choir teacher forced me to join the choir. At first, I wasn’t really into it, I just saw it as a very interesting activity to participate in. A year later a friend of mine showed me how to record songs on my laptop and I started recording really amature songs just for fun and to share with my friends. Years later during my finals in university, I felt like I had a lot to say and a story to tell and this led me to bothering a close friend of mine for studio sessions. That very first session was like finding a missing puzzle piece. It hit me deep; this, creating music, was what I was born to do. The rest, as they say, is the symphony of history.
RN: 2. How has the local music scene influenced your style and genre choices?
FH: Wow a lot! I was a huge Kwaito fan as a kid, I honestly think “Nkalakatha” by Mandoza was the first song I could recite word for word. As a teenager, I was really influenced by artists like Simphiwe Dana, Zolani Mahola, The Soil, AKA and Tshego.
RN: 3. Can you describe your unique sound and the elements that set your music apart from others in the industry?
FH: My music is led by my authentic expression of how I feel about certain moments in life. I would describe my music as different colours or stories of raw emotions that showcase the dynamic nature of being a human in this generation. Growing up in a small town in the Eastern Cape and later on moving to Johannesburg at 16 allowed me to explore different perspectives and cultures and these experiences have had a huge impact on my versatility as an artist. I see myself as a genre-bending artist who experiments with different sounds that fit a story or narrative I want to sing or rap about.
RN: 4. Are there any specific South African musicians or musical traditions that have had a significant impact on your work?
FH: Yes, growing up, Gospel was the only music ever played at my grandmother’s house so artists like Ntokozo Mbambo and Mthunzi Namba showed me the importance of passion. The Soil inspired me to be more authentic and prideful and AKA inspired me and I am sure millions of others have confidence in themselves. All these artists are talented but they also showed me it’s more than just the music.
RN: 5. Your latest single showcases a fusion of genres. How do you approach blending different musical styles, and what do you hope listeners take away from your music?
FH: Melodies are the key for me when writing any song, I approach each song differently based on how I am feeling or what I feel like expressing. I hear and consume music in such a dynamic way which makes it very hard for me to box myself to one sound. I hope my listeners can relate and be inspired by my music.
RN: 6. How have your own life experiences shaped the themes and lyrics of your songs?
FH: Every song is a page torn from the book of my life. “4 Peace Sake” my debut EP unravels the tales of my early twenties, while subsequent tunes delve into the drama of my mid and late twenties. Life writes the lyrics, and I simply translate.
RN: 7. Is it important for you to represent your heritage through your art?
FH: I think for me it is, home is where the heart is. Sometimes I get caught up in who I am internally and forget that a huge part of my identity is formed by the culture that raised me. I’ve always wanted to make a song about a Xhosa love song and I felt like dropping “Ungowami” was the perfect time to show the world that there is a different side of me as an artist and a person that means a lot to me.
RN: 8. Collaborations can be a powerful way to explore new sounds. Are there any artists, locally or globally, that you dream of collaborating with, and why?
FH: Most definitely, in South Africa, I’d like to work with Anatii, Tshego, Kabza da small and Zolan Mahola. These artists are very talented and I feel like I’d learn a lot from them. Globally, Dominic Fike, Kendrick Lamar, Ravyn Lenae, Saba, and Chance the Rapper would help me learn how to take my art to the highest level possible.
RN: 9. How do you stay true to your artistic vision while also adapting to changing trends and audience preferences?
FH: I try to remain authentic and open-minded at all times. I’m a huge music fan so am always aware of what’s happening in the industry, some trends work for me and some don’t but through it all I try to remain as authentic and adaptive as I can be
RN: Can you share any upcoming projects or collaborations that your fans can look forward to in the near future?
FH: 2024 is a big year for me! I’ve been working on a special project that will be dropping in 2024. I’m also working on getting more visuals out and having fun with it.
RN: 11. As an emerging artist, what advice do you have for aspiring musicians, particularly those trying to make a mark in the South African music scene?
FH: Trust in God and stay true to yourself. This journey is not for the faint-hearted, it’s for people who have the passion to never stop even when the odds are not in their favour. Another important thing is to realise that without consistent hard work and sacrifice your dreams might not come to fruition.
RN: If you could define your music in three words, what would they be, and why do these words encapsulate your artistic expression?
FH: Real, raw, and colourful. These words showcase the versatility of my artistry and the importance of making music that comes from the heart.