Zimbabwe: "My Inspirations? Modern Dance and Julie Andrews!"

October 10, 2011 1:07 pm 0 comments


Saskia Houttuin

7 October 2011







interview

Rina Mushonga is a singer-songwriter from Dutch-Zimbabwean decent. Armed with her guitar, strong voice and sharp pen she is determined to conquer The Netherlands and the rest of the world.

You are half-Zimbabwean, half-Dutch. Where did you grow up?

I grew up all over the place. My dad is Zimbabwean so we lived in Zimbabwe for quite a while. I did high school there. My mother is Dutch so I also spent some time in The Netherlands, I did University there. But I also lived in London for a while and I was born…in India!

You now live in The Netherlands, what made you decide to live here?

There are more opportunities here in Holland and there are more resources and expertise available. So that makes it, I think, for a musician a lot easier here in The Netherlands to perform. Whereas in Zimbabwe we really lack the skills and resources to support young artists, we also lack platforms. There are not enough cool and funky places to perform in Zimbabwe.

How did your career lift off?

I came to Holland for a holiday just to visit friends. I recorded some new songs and sent it to Dutch music label Africa Unsigned. They really liked it and approached me to start a crowd funding project with them.

Crowd funding?

Crowd funding is basically what musicians do all the time. It’s getting your network, your friends, your family, to support you financially with a specific target in mind. So whether it’d be to record an album or to go on tour. It gives the artist more independence and it makes the people that like your music get more involved in the process. My first target was 5000 dollars. We reached that target quite quickly: in six weeks. With that money I toured in The Netherlands, Belgium and London.

Where do you get your musical inspiration from?

I think I get my musical inspiration from a lot of different things. I’m simply inspired by the world that surrounds me. So that means by people, emotions…I also get really inspired by modern dance. I love watching modern dance.

Who are your role models?

I have a lot of musical role models and some you may not expect! Julie Andrews for example. When I was a kid I really loved Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music. I really love musicals, it’s ridiculous but I like the melodrama of it I suppose.

If you could collaborate with any artist, who would you pick?

If I could collaborate with any artist…I think I’d like to collaborate with Bon Iver or Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam’s lead singer. I would love to sit down with them and write a cool song.

What makes you smile about Zimbabwe?

The lack of organisation in the country. It tries to be really bureaucratic. People want to stick to rules and regulations but somehow it’s completely inefficient. You have to fill in form after form, because it’s supposed to be done in a certain way, but at the same time if you pay a guy five bucks you’ll also get it done. I find that quite funny sometimes.

Let’s say you became the president of Zimbabwe overnight. What would be your number one priority?

I couldn’t stipulate one priority. There is so much that needs to be done in Zimbabwe. As a musician, I’d like to reform the cultural sector. But as a person I think health and education would be my number one priority.

Thinking about the Netherlands, what is the biggest cliché you can think of?

Everyone thinks that peope in The Netherlands walk around smoking weed all the time. Like it’s a normal thing. I have a lot of Dutch friends and none of them smoke weed so…it makes me a bit sad sometimes actually. A lot of people come to Amsterdam to do that, while it has so much more to offer. Another cliché is the idea that’s it’s really liberal here. That’s definitely becoming less and less true, because of political parties like the PVV and its leader Geert Wilders, but also because of the drastic cuts the government has made in the art sector. This shouldn’t be the case in a country like The Netherlands in this day and age. We should invest in the arts and be proud of it.

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