DANI VAN DER HORST
PDBY caught up with Pretoria-based musician Samsays. Samuel Mahlangu, known on stage as Samsays, is a website developer, a loving dad, and a singer-songwriter. He describes himself as a thoughtful, systematic, and empathetic guy with a great love for society, music, and nature. Sam studied Chemical Engineering at the University of Pretoria for three years, to the point of academic exclusion. Sam stated that this experience invited him to confront his inner truth about what he genuinely wanted to create with his life. After months of painful introspection and endless discussions with his parents, Sam realised how participating in the Tuks Res Serenade competitions brought indescribable joy to his heart. So, he got back into writing music and trusted that everything would fall into place, and now here he is.
How did you get into music?
I’ve been playing music since I was seven years old — I basically couldn’t outgrow the recorder. I then moved over to playing the keyboard and learnt to write raps as well. In the same year, I performed my first vocal solo in my school’s choir.
After some years, I started learning acoustic guitar, djembe, and songwriting. So, to answer this question more directly, I’ve always been in music — there were just periods in my life when I got out of it.
You are currently working on an EP; can you tell us a bit about it?
I’ve finally selected the six sets of lyrics that will form part of this defining project. It represents me having found my voice after three years of doing a little bit of everything: from covering legends like Elvis Presley in Heart42 […] to performing explosive afro-tribal rock music in Soundwarmer.
The EP is titled Fruitful and I will share with listeners my experiences of getting in touch with my intelligence, learning my own meaning of honesty and seeking counsel from the inner child. At the moment, I’m finalising how the music should come together
and saving up some money for recording and publishing.
You’re going to love this project if you like yourself a little reggae with a tinge of alternative rock packed with some thought-provoking messaging. I’m looking forward to working with different instrumentalists, as I intend to bring in flavours from jazz and classical players too.
Who do you draw inspiration from?
I draw most of my inspiration from Serj Tankian, the lead vocalist in System of a Down, Cambatta and Mike Love. Their lyrical content is very well matched by their musicality, it’s amazing.
You are multi-instrumental, but do you have a first love when it comes to instruments?
I perceive music instruments as magical beings in possession of great musical knowledge to be shared with anyone who is willing to listen. I bet my recorder would probably roll its hypothetical eyes at my response to this one, but I’ve really grown to love djembe over the years. It has managed to get me into states of mind I would be unable to explain clearly enough with words.
Do you have any comments on the South African music scene?
I think that the amount of undiscovered talent is astounding and that as time goes on, more and more talent-grooming organisations will be in place to create a more positive awareness of music as a valid profession.
What has one of your all-time favourite gigs been?
My greatest memory of stage time has to be Platteland Battle of the Bands semi-finals with Soundwarmer. The amount of energy everyone had was overwhelmingly fantastic.
Could you tell us a bit more about your other hobby, freerunning?
As an expressive and very passionate person, I feel that freerunning gives me a platform to release a fiery kind of energy which stems from my kinaesthetic intelligence. My appreciation for adrenalin in adventure and my obsession with martial arts drew me to this beautiful movement discipline.
By definition, freerunning is the process of telling a story with your body using the surroundings and adapting any form of physical movement to a unique situation, just like most kids would. After six years of training under Munkie Freerun and Sabotage Elite, I now offer informal coaching sessions and strongly hope that more people in South Africa can get involved.
What are you currently jamming to?
Mike Love’s 2014 album – Jah Will Never Leave I Alone, and Nahko Bear’s On the Verge album.
Where can we check you out?