If creative flow can be likened to water, then Zoe and Vusa Mazula have their own river of it.
The husband and wife duo gave 9 years of their lives to the Zula Sound Bar in Cape Town, shining the light on up-and-coming local acts.
Now is the time for them to take the stage themselves again: and where they do, the crowds are wowed, moved, softened. The two have tapped into the heart of what it is to be human, they sing about things that flutter within our own chests, they draw up pebbles of thought from the riverbed of bubbling truth, and set these to words.
There is no pop psychology here, no clatter of empty catch-phrases.
The pair speak beautifully. Expressive ability aside – they give each other space to speak without interrupting. Instead, they add to the other’s comments: and so the story of their life unfolds – infused with love and laughter, their share of tears, and smiles from their elvin faced son, Neo.
Neo draws on the office whiteboard with 7 year old enthusiasm. He beams when he hears that his parents, once living the high life in London, chose to come home to raise their child in the shadow of the mountain.
Zoe’s account of walking away from her all girl band epitomises her integrity as both and artist and person. “EMI became interested in us and the girls had absolutely everything resting on the band’s big break. But boy do they strip you down…they began calling the shots. Look like this, speak like this, wear this, get your hair done here, all of which I really didn’t care for, then it was ‘now you must sound like this’ and the clincher: I was told to lose Vusa because I had to appear ‘available’ to the fans.”
Her band members crowed: compromise yourself now, then when we are huge, we can take back control. And they spat vitriol when Zoe chose the antithesis of what they wanted: her own voice, her own look, and a path away from them.
Instead, Zoe chose Vusa and the life they wanted; where they could raise their child together on a farm, in nature, beneath endless African skies, and where they could make music together.
Vusa’s homecoming experience was diametrically opposed to Zoe’s: he was in an all-men dance band that were already massive in London and were – in his words – a band of brothers.
When he broke the news to his band that he and Zoe were heading back to Africa, the band members hugged, wept, and threw party after party to say goodbye.
The melding of these experiences became almost a backing track to the couple’s desire to draw others into the limelight: to showcase their talent – not dictate it. Zula Sound Bar did that, it met that intention.
And where they are now, at The Cape Farmhouse, offering The Farmhouse Rocks summer concert series, is another celebration of the incredible depths of local talent.
But here, back home on the flanks of the mountain that Zoe longed for so, in a lifestyle that Vusa was raised in, the couple perform their original music as Mazula.
Zoe is fierce about the importance of creativity being the sole driving force that turns everything else, and encourages people to get in touch with what success means to them individually. “We are sold the idea of the house and cars and boat blah blah. But what if, true success to you is waking up with the freedom to write a new song, collaborate with a new artist, to travel or fine tune your particular art?”
Vusa says they write together, almost without trying: its just what they do. “Honestly, we’ll be sitting having a cup of tea and the next thing, there’ll be a beat or a rhythm and I’ll be knocking it out and Zoe will just start humming and stringing words together. It’s amazing,” he says.
A new album is being brewed, and will be ready to be shared in just a few short months.
They are keen to explore live streaming and collaborations with as many different musicians as they can on a ‘wondering, wandering tour’, pulling together the gilded chords of each place. into a tapestry of sound .
“Africa is the heartbeat of the world. People here are looking outside, but you gotta remember, the rest of the world is looking in. There is crazy talent here, and we want the world to sit up and take notice,” Vusa says.