Exclusive Q&A with Toya Delazy: Unicef Ambassador, PowerPuff Girl, and Musician

Chart-topper, Unicef ambassador and voice of the 4th PowerPuff Girl on Cartoon Network, Toya Delazy is a musician, from Durban, South Africa, and based in East London, UK. Her music is a blend of Jazz, Electro and Hip-Hop (she calls it JEHP).

Pianist, producer, rapper and singer-songwriter Latoya Buthelezi, known as Toya Delazy, has made her mark as one of the finest performers to break new ground in the South Africa’s burgeoning music industry. At age 9 she began to train in classical piano, and attended Howard College’s Jazz Program in Durban in 2009. Due to her exposure to different influences, from Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Skrillex, to Radiohead and Kings of Leon, she pieced together the different nuances, performing around Durban’s pubs with her keyboard and a beatboxer, before being scouted to play Africa Day in 2011.

Toya eventually signed to Sony Music Africa and released her debut album “Due Drop” in April 2012, raising the bar to fresh, new heights. With more than 1600 radio plays and 400 000 YouTube views*, her first single “Pump It On” dominated across South Africa’s Top 40 for 16 weeks and beyond, with the iconic video. The “live life to the fullest” concept behind the track prompted Reebok to recruit her as a brand ambassador in 2012. With following singles “Heart,” “Love Is In The Air” and “Are You Gonna Stay”, Due Drop soon reached Gold status and got Awarded as Newcomer of The Year, Best Pop Album and Best Produced at the 2013 South African Music Awards and, the same year, received a BET Award Nomination for Best International Act. After a 120 dates Tour across Southern Africa, between 2012 and 2014, Toya also opened for Paolo Nutini and Ne-Yo during their African Tour.

In 2014, released her 2nd album, titled “Ascension”, with hit singles “Forbidden Fruit” and “My City”. The album propelled Toya to international levels, headlining at the Apollo Theater NYC, scoping Best International Song Award at the 2016 Out Music Awards held in New York with Forbidden Fruit. Toya left Sony the next year when the two parties couldn’t come to terms on a dysfunctional management deal, to start her own record label, Delazy Entertainment.

In 2017, following 2 years off the radar, Toya sporadically released new tracks online, namely ‘Diamonds in the Rough’, ‘No Follow’, ‘Kekeke’ and ‘Look at God’ to finally release her third offering ‘Uncommodified’ on the 8th December 2017. Together with the release came a collaborative music video with Unicef for ‘Khula Khula’. The new art piece shows Toya’s creative growth, adventuring in future bass and grime sounds, with a touch of soul. The album and singles were added to the the official ‘Spotify Radar’ playlist and ‘Hot Tracks’ and ‘Best of the week’ playlists by Apple Music, who described the album a ‘spectacular multidisciplinary musical artwork’. The first official single is called ‘Greatest’ and will be followed by ‘London Town’.

Read Girl Gang Music’s Q&A with Toya below:

GGM: What was the moment of inspiration behind this record? 

“When I realized  that I couldn’t define my genre I love jazz. Electro hip pop. I could not tailor my album to sound like only one of those genres – so all I could do was share my sound authentically and not try prune it to fit in. I did so and I called it uncommodified because I felt free.”

GGM: What was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue music? 

“When I performed at a local pub and they paid me –  I saw the correlation between doing something I love and making a living.”

GGM: You’ve obviously found huge songwriting success. Love love love your sound. What’s the key to good songwriting? 

“The key to good song writing is genuineness, having intention  and a good vocabulary coupled with the ability to be poetic. Channel your emotions especially if there something shitty is happening in your life, purge it beautifully.”

GGM: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m shy, I hate it. Guess it keeps me humble.

GGM: What’s your one piece of advice you’d give to any young artist just getting started out there?

“Use everything that has happened to you bad and good to benefit your artistry. Tell YOUR story and people will identify with you, all people want is to get to know you. Be original and don’t doubt yourself , there is enough people doing that for you.

GGM: Do you think being a woman in the music industry has affected your career? If so, how?

“When I was signed in Africa – I had the horse power of the record label (The big boys) watching over me – but when I became independent I intimidated a lot of people for daring to believe that I could take it into my own hands. A lot of doors started to not open as easily as they used to.It is a male dominated industry and I feel like the biggest fear is to see a woman doing things on her own and succeeding. Such benevolence sends most scattering for the hills –  but that said I am open to collaborating with record Labels I just want to always be in charge of my artistic direction. Losing power over that is what forced me to want to take the wheel into my own hands. No regrets.”

Toya Delazy’s Girl Gang Music Picks

Lady leshuur

Tash Sultana

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