In anticipation of the next instalment of #NothingMajor we chat to TSA to discuss how his moniker came to be, being independent of major labels and what to expect from his performance
Is TSA an acronym for anything? What does the moniker mean to you?
Back in high school, my basketball coach called me The Silent Assassin because of how low-key and unpredictable my skill set was on the court. So I thought it would be a great idea to use it for my music because you never really know which direction I’m going to go next. For me, it’s mysterious and elusive.
What was the driving force behind you wanting to create hip-hop music and become a rapper?
Music has always been therapeutic for me. Because I’m such a great listener, when it’s my turn to talk I don’t really want to get a response or be interrupted, I just want you to listen. And so music has always given me the opportunity to express myself and just leave it all in a song and not have to worry about what someone has to say or even thinks about me. Once it’s out I just move on.
When was Joburg State Of Mind released and how would you say your sound, skill and productions have evolved since its release?
That was my first official release actually back in 2012. The music is a lot more open and less claustrophobic. I would say the listener can actually interact with the music now whereas my older releases were just me thinking out loud and not really performing the music for public consumption. Now I want you to rap/sing along with me.
All your music has been released independently through Nobody Else which is a creative agency you founded with your brother. Tell us more about the agency and the roles it plays in your life and career.
Nobody Else is a model that was built around developing me as an artist. We learned everything we needed to about management, branding and development through trial and error and trying to getting me out there. It’s about doing it yourself independently by simply making something out of nothing. So we like to develop raw talent through collaboration. Nobody Else is basically my management team at the moment and takes care of all my business while I continue to create the music.
What are your thoughts on independence versus signing with a label in the current state of South African hip-hop?
I believe that both are great depending on where you are in your career and where you’d like to be. There’s also enough information about independence and major label deals for any artist to make a well-informed decision. Although nowadays major record labels don’t do much artist development because they are more numbers orientated due to social media. So it’s about finding a balance between quality and mass production. Therefore the craft still needs to be mastered and developed to ensure artistic growth and longevity.
Your latest release is a collaboration with Lex Lafoy and Tremendoush titled ‘Cozy’. Tell us how the collaboration came about and what you enjoy the most about collaborating with other artists.
I just love creating new energy, something I wouldn’t be able to do by myself. Lex is a Durban artist and Trem is from Cape Town. So ‘Cozy‘ has a nice coastal feel to it, you can hear the climax of the track at the end when that “Something About You” sample drops. It sounds like waves crashing and has this feeling of being under water. I started speaking to Lex via Twitter late 2016 and I met Trem in Cape Town earlier this year during our Markham winter campaign shoot.
Your verse one ‘Cozy’ suggests that you are getting closer to your dreams. What is your definition of success as an artist? What do you hope to achieve?
Success for me is applying yourself wholeheartedly and always striving to be better. I feel like the more I can tap into levels of my ability I couldn’t tap into previously the more successful I become. Success is about expanding yourself, it has no limits. I just want to continue to make great music and inspire the younger generation to carry on believing in themselves even when nobody else does.
What can be expected of your performance at #NothingMajor?
A wonderful experience you wouldn’t be able to get from just listening to the audio. You can always expect to get more from a live performance, first-time listeners get converted into fans at live shows which is one of the reasons I enjoy being on stage so much.
You’ve recently mentioned wanting to collaborate with more artists. Who do you hope to collaborate with and can we expect any more releases from you this year?
I’d love to collaborate with emerging artists mostly because they’re a lot more inspired and hungry. One of my favourite artists on the rise is Tshego, I don’t think people are ready for his wonderful voice yet. Then there’s also The Big Hash and Espacio, mostly unconventional artists.