Dream music deal becomes real for Eastern Cape duo
Music is no side hustle for Eastern Cape duo and new parents Darkie Fiction — it is the bread and butter that keeps their family fed.
And for this reason, the pair’s newly sealed deal with music publishing company Sony ATV is a cherished step in the direction of their dreams to make a success of the business side of Darkie Fiction.
The company is set to take care of the licensing and commercialisation of the independent duo’s music while they focus on singing.
“This is a good thing for us because when we write not only do we write for ourselves, to just release it, but we have [business opportunities like] campaigns in mind because we are trying to eat, at the end of the day.
Something that’s important when you’re an independent artist is being business-minded in order to have a sustainable career
“Something that’s important when you’re an independent artist is being business-minded in order to have a sustainable career.
“Sony ATV will be taking care of the publishing business for us,” Yonela Mnyanda, one half of Darkie Fiction, said.
With music being their source of income, the Johannesburg-based duo are careful to partner with brands and companies that fit into their vision like a glove, they said.
“Sony ATV was the option that felt like home to us. After months of discussions, we finally sealed the deal when we were all happy.
“Something we’ve learnt while in Joburg is to make sure that the behind-the-scenes work and business is intact if you are trying to make a living out of music, which is what we’re doing.
“Music is our hustle and not a side hustle. We are here for and because of music,” Mnyanda said.
The pair met at a club in Cape Town in 2016, Mnyanda, 26, having relocated from East London and Kuthulakwenkosi Siboto, 28, from his hometown of Port Elizabeth.
They later moved to Johannesburg to fully pursue music as a couple, dropping their first single, Selula, in 2017.
This was followed by the debut EP Sobabini: A New Mzantsi Evolution in 2018 and their second EP Endaweni in April 2020.
In light of our EP #ENDAWENI being released on the 10th April. We’d like to offer you a window into what making this project was like. Hope everyone is taking care of themselves 🇿🇦💛⚡️ Video by: Wildflower Worx BTS photography: Pixel Kollective
Darkie Fiction has over the years become a much celebrated duo whose festival performances are always eagerly anticipated.
Their growing career is characterised by their vintage aesthetic and South African nostalgic sound inspired by kwaito, neo-soul and hip-hop, among other genres.
While their sound is often described as modern kwaito, thanks to the breakout single Selula, Mnyanda and Siboto do not box themselves into a specific genre.
Instead, they merge inspiration from various existing genres into one unconventional sound, mainly themed around nostalgia.
“To be unconventional is something we pride ourselves in.
In and among all the popular music and culture around us, our intention is not to conform and that’s what sets us aside
“In and among all the popular music and culture around us, our intention is not to conform and that’s what sets us aside,” Siboto said.
Their music is largely influenced by the music they grew up listening to in the Eastern Cape, Mnyanda said.
“The reason we started Darkie Fiction in the first place is because we really missed hearing those sounds on radio and TV,” she said.
Ahead of its release, Endaweni had been a year in the making, with some of the seven songs having been written organically and relating to the different stages of the couple’s life.
Among the stages documented is Mnyanda’s depression during pregnancy, in the song Iz'thunzela.
“In my first trimester I struggled a lot with depression and feeling like my life was over.
“So I was laying in bed one day, writing, and the lyrics of the song are what I felt at that moment,” she said.
What has set Darkie Fiction apart from other duos and earned them a loyal following is their inimitable creativity, as seen in the official video for Iz’thunzela.
The duo shot the video themselves in their home during the lockdown.
Mnyanda took on the role of director and editor while Siboto styled them.
“Much like the video, we actually wrote the song in the bedroom with just the computer screen lit in a dark room.
“It’s the only song we wrote in the bedroom,” Siboto said.
They said the video was intended to communicate several mental illnesses.
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