Each year, a team from Hennessy Cognac drafts a list of a unique mix of artists it wishes to see collaborate together for its annual Hennessy Artistry tour.
The latest installment will feature rapper AKA, house music singer Bucie, legendary soul musician Caiphus Semenya, hip-hop newcomer Zakwe and ecletic pop duo The Arrows. These artists will collaborate on a song and go on a nationwide tour together, culimnating in a performance in Rosebank on 31 August.
“The process of blending is integral to the creation of Hennessy. And the same can be said of music. Both require just the right amount of each element to reach perfection and again this year, the Artistry team believes we have successfully brought consumers the best blend of talent, genres and generations,” said Hennessy South Africa brand manager Aimee Kellen.
Hennessy Cognac SA held a private dinner at the Saxon Boutique Hotel, Johannesburg, for the artists, management and selected media. As a six-course dinner was served and Hennessy flowed throughout the evening, DESTINY had a chat with the various artists about their involvement in the project.
What does it mean to you that you are still considered relevant in today’s music scene?
The feeling that I get especially knowing that they think I am relevant is wonderful. The fact that people look up to me is an inspiring experience. When I was younger I would look up to the Manhattan Brothers and the African Woodpeckers. I saw them as an extension of myself and some of us used to wish we could work with them. It is not over yet for me, more is still to come.
What do you hope to learn in return?
I look forward to learning a lot. You know when young people talk about house music and remixes it's funny because we used to dance to that music and we called it disco. It's important to learn in the world of music and I never stop. I am constantly informing myself by reading books and learning new instruments. I am excited to be working with the new generation.
How have you managed to maintain longevity in the music industry?
When I started singing, I didn’t do it for the fame. I just wanted to sing, I didn’t set out to be a star. Somewhere in my spirit and mind there was this love for music and I then started singing with friends. I sang for the love it. As I grew up and matured and became a part of King Kong [the seminal 50s township musical] that is when I realised I could get paid from this. For me it’s about enjoying everything in life and looking to do better and to improve my ability. I think there is still much for me to do, though.
You have been in the industry for less than a year, with five Sama nominations under your belt. How does it feel to be included in the Artistry lineup?
I am very grateful and it has been amazing for my growth as an artist.
Who are you looking forward to working with?
I am excited especially to work with uBab’ Semenya, AKA, Bucie and The Arrows. I’ve always loved Bucie’s music and this is a big opportunity for me to work with her. When I heard that The Arrows were from Durban I was even more excited because that is my hometown.
What have you been up to lately?
I just came back from shooting a commercial in Jamaica for the Tropika Island launch and I went on a tour to the US with Miller. It’s been hectic.
What does it mean to you working with a unique mix of artists?
When I got the request from Hennessy and I heard Zakwe was going to be there I thought it was absoloutely great. I didn’t know Caiphus was also involved but I feel honoured to be working with him. The Arrows are similar to me in that they are young and the type of music they make. Everyone will be representing their genre of music and coming together to collaborate, it should sound good.
What are you looking forward to in working with the other four artists?
It’s going to be epic. A good friend of ours Zakes [Bantwini] told us about the Hennessy Artistry experience and we were like so excited. It’s a big priviledge to be mentioned in the same breath as Caiphus, he is a living legend. It's been radical for us to meet all these people, form relationships with them and be able to understand and get over any difficulties. We didn’t know Zakwe was from Durban and we are excited about that.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s kind of pop with an edge. It is very high energy, feisty and aggressive. We are actually going to record our next album in New York this September.Regional Events:
To attend the Hennessy Artistry events see the list below.
Date: 4 August 2012
Time: 8 pm
Line-up: The Arrows and Zakwe
Date: 10 August 2012
Time: 9 pm
Venue: Jack Budha
Line-up: Bucie, AKA and Zakwe
Date: 11 August 2012
Line-up: Caiphus Semenya, AKA and Bucie
Date: 17 August 2012
Time: 8 pm
Line-up: Bucie and Zakwe
Event: Hennessy Artistry
Date: 25 August 2012
Line-up: Zakwe, The Arrows and AKA
Date: 31 August 2012
Time: 8 pm
Line-up: Caiphus Semenya, Bucie, AKA, The Arrows and Zakwe