By Nombuso Nkambule (@hrh_nombuso)
Moonchild has managed to make the audience receptive to her and her music and her ideologies, without having to dilute herself.
I pull up to the popular sidewalk smoothie shop, Uncle Merv’s, in Maboneng Precinct and I am confronted by a shock of blue. Moonchild is sitting in the sun with her producer and BLK JKS member, Tshepang Ramoba, as she waits for me to arrive for the interview. I’m stressing because I am running a few minutes late, but the stress dissipates as soon as I warmly shake hands with the laid back ‘Rabubi‘ crooner. “NdingumXhosa waseBhayi,” says Moonchild, real name Sanelisiwe Twisha. The singer then gives me her palm to show me her latest skateboarding injury, “I was skating in Durban when I got this bad boy.” I add ‘skater’ to her resume under singer and designer before I flick out out my notebook and continue with the rest of the interview.
I first encountered Moonchild’s music while listening to 5FM about two months ago. The chorus to her hit single, ‘Rabubi’, is very catchy and so when I saw her name on the line-up for the Basha Uhuru festival I was curious and wondered if she sang as good live as she did in studio. To my relief (and excitement), she did! The first time I saw Moonchild perform live she told the crowd to “kiss and pop”, whilst making gestures between both sets of her, uhm, lips. I’m a pretty liberal girl, but I’m not Rihanna-bad, so I wouldn’t normally respond to this kind of sexual request to “kiss and pop”. But somehow without even thinking about it, I was also kissing and popping without a care for who was looking or what it might look like. “Get crazy with me!” she enthused over the mic, and the crowd did just that. “When I’m performing I have a party in my head, it’s like I’m solo and I just rock out and have a fun time,” says Moonchild. Rock on Moonchild, rock on.
A performer since childhood, Moonchild describes her younger days of grooming and performing in Port Elizabeth:
“My mom groomed me for the stage, I was a catalogue model so she never let my knees get dark, and I wasn’t allowed to carry heavy items. I did national ballroom and Latin dancing throughout high school. I eventually stopped the catalogue modeling my mother had groomed me for and just focused on the dancing. My mom would organise gigs for my friends and I at her workplace and we’d get paid. It was fun, we called ourselves the ‘Beps Girls’ and we would download Spice Girls melodies and sing over them as well as choreograph moves to the whole song. All the money we raised through our gigs would go to the church.”
Singing and dancing have evidently been with Moonchild since she was just a child and both her mother and brother are musically inclined. Her mother is a jazz musician who owned a jazz club when Moonchild was a toddler and she recalls hip hop sessions in the studio at home with her brother and his friends.
The talented Moonchild is also a designer. When she was younger and couldn’t afford the pieces she wanted, would steal her moms sheets and make her own creations out of them. “I hand-stitched anything that I wanted to wear and every civvies day I would wear my own shit you know,” says Moonchild. She studied Fashion Design at Linea Academy in Durban and her educational background in fashion is what helped shaped her ‘cult-wear’ designs which she does for herself as well as for her clients. She was also fortunate enough to learn about the business of fashion through a bursary she obtained to study at University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) where she was one of three hand-picked young designers. In her course at UKZN she shared classes with established designers such as Karen Monk-Klijnstra and Vanashree Singh.
More recently on the music front, her 2014 single, ‘Go Sterring’, which is about the failing police service, was used as lecture material at the University of the Witwatersrand. This revealed a more serious side to Moonchild and her music. “Music is about liberation, so while it needs to be relevant and cool sounding, it’s still important for me to package my seriousness is a very light but informative way,” explains Moonchild. Other ‘serious’, but deceptively light-sounding, singles include ‘Sdudla’ which is about an eating disorder.
The balance between giving the people what they want and staying true to yourself as an artist is a dificult one to find, and Moonchild has managed to make the audience receptive to her and her music and her ideologies, without having to dilute herself.
You can catch the multi-talented Moonchild on your airwaves (5FM, YFM and Highveld have been playing her tunes) or check out her gig guide on her facebook page, MoonchildSA.