Ayke Ezeani
by on January 9, 2019
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Ayke: How did you start your musical journey?

Serati: I have always loved singing. I was always singing and dancing around the house as a kid. In the beginning I was very shy about my singing, but eventually I entered school concerts and competitions and I got such positive reviews. From as early as I can remember Celine Dion was my idol, I wanted to be just like her, so music was never really one of many career choices; it was always the only obvious thing to do. After school I started pursuing it professionally. I started playing guitar, and that is how inspiration for writing songs and poetry came to me. I started performing at little events in my area (Alexandra Township), doing radio interviews, and then eventually music and poetry sessions. That is really where I started honing my performance skills.

Ayke: Ha ha ha (laughs) did you learn to play any instruments or during your early days?

Serati: My first love was the piano. I started playing the piano in high school in the UK, I even got gifted this huge piano. Unfortunately when my mom and I left the UK to come back to South Africa I had to leave the piano, and so I couldn’t continue. That is when I started playing the guitar.

Ayke: Did anyone in your family influence musical career?

Serati: I don’t come from a musical family at all, but I do have two older siblings, and I can definitely say that the music I grew up hearing from them has influenced me greatly. We lived in the US from the age that I was 2-4 and I distinctly remember the sounds of Tracy Chapman from that time in my life. My sister loved Lauryn Hill and I realize now how much she has influenced my music. My sister lived in France for almost 10 years later on, and she would always come back with music from French speaking African countries. Through her I discovered and fell in love with West African music, artists like Ali Farka Toure, Rokia Traore, Fatoumata Diawara, Salif Keita, Ouma Sangare and many others.

 

Ayke: What informed the choice of your stage name?

Serati: “Serati” is my middle name. It was an obvious choice

Ayke: Which famous African musician do you admire and why do you think he /she is good?

Serati: There are so many. Miriam Makeba is a big inspiration for me, her album The Guinea years is one of my favorites of all time. She is an icon, not just her music, but her style and what she stood for. I am a huge fan of Fatoumata Diawara, I adore her music and watching her live performances. I have no idea what is saying in her songs, but they touch me deeply. I love Nakhane, I saw him perform for the first time a couple of years ago at Fete de la Musiq in Melville, and I love what an amazing songwriter and storyteller he is. I am greatly inspired by Petite Noir, his visual album that he just released is just beyond me! I really love seeing young African artists pushing the boundaries, Petite Noir is doing something very different and has carved a unique path; and I am very inspired by that. I am also a huge fan of Msaki, I can listen to her album on repeat for days and never get bored. Her songs are classics.

Ayke: Do you write and produce your sounds?

Serati: I write and compose my songs on guitar and I work with different producers.

Ayke: How will you describe your genre of sound?

Serati: I call it folk-soul.

Ayke: Any latest sound from you recently, on which music streaming platforms can your fans find it?

Serati: In March of last year I released my debut EP “Rapture”. I then released a house remix EP, 4 remixes of my single Why Do You Tempt Me. You can find it on most online platforms; iTunes, GooglePlay, BoomPlay, Deezer, Tidal etc.

Ayke: I hope you will add upload your sounds and videos on RadioVybe?

Serati: Sure

Ayke: If you are taking a break from music, where do you spend your spare time?

Serati: For the past year my time has been divided between Johannesburg and Dar’es Salaam. I enjoy spending time in Maputo as well. Anywhere there is an ocean I am happy!

Ayke: Do you know how to play only one instrument or can you play others?

Serati: I just play the guitar right now, but I am planning to learn more

Ayke: Do you have certain rituals you do to calm your nerves before a musical performance?

Serati: I used to get so nervous before a show, so much so that my throat would close up and my fingers would cramp when trying to play the guitar. With performing often I have gotten really comfortable with performing, I still get nervous, but it’s not the debilitating type of nerves.  It’s kind of nerves mixed with excitement- adrenalin. I try taking deep breaths, and shaking the nerves out.

Ayke: I know you have pulled a lot of gigs but which one stood out for you and why?

Serati: Performing at Carfax in Newtown as one of the contestants of Afropunk Battle of the Bands was noteworthy. Not only do I love that venue, it was a really great opportunity for exposure for me; and I really enjoyed being on that stage  

Ayke: Could you recount any concert of yours where your fans surprised you with appreciation?

Serati: I would have to say performing at a live music venue called Slow Leopard in Dar es Salaam was quite special. It was so packed that night, and people were screaming and asking for more. A lot of people came up and hugged and asked me for pictures afterwards as well. It was almost overwhelming; but in a good way. Performing at Red Monkey in Zanzibar in 2017 for the first time, the audience surprised me by singing my song back to me. That was a moment!

Ayke: What do you think will improve the state of musical artists and producers in Africa?

Serati: I don’t know, I guess more exposure.

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