NATIVE Exclusive: Sipho Is Challenging Hyper Masculinity With His Music
An introspective offering from a singer heavily influenced by his faith.
An introspective offering from a singer heavily influenced by his faith.
Zimbabwean British singer and songwriter Sipho captured the heart and ears of audiences with his powerful and captivating voice since his first EP in 2016, and has followed this up across the years with a string of steady releases including the 2021 self-produced EP titled ‘AND GOD SAID’.
With awe-inspiring singles such as “Bodies”, “We Ain’t”, and two-part single “Moonlight Pt1/2”, Sipho has showcased a unique mixture of vulnerability and honesty on his views of a range of coming-of-age topics including organised religion, faith and his identity as a Black man. Through his inquiry into his own complex wiring, listeners are able to see and hear their experiences represented and in turn, the singer has carved out a lane for himself.
Besides his vocal ability and unapologetic style, a key component of Sipho’s music, that sets him apart is the thought-provoking subject matter he uses as inspiration for his music releases and projects. In ‘She Might Bleed’, Sipho explores the issue of hyper masculinity in his generation and the ways in which it directly affects the women in his life. These thoughts began after he was robbed and nearly lost his life, a terrifying experience for anyone, especially for a young adult like Sipho.
Following this, Sipho began to open his mind and see the bigger picture. Instead of harbouring anger towards his attackers, Sipho instead confronts these feelings he’s facing head on. He questions what life circumstances could drive someone to pick up a knife or a gun and hurt another human being. Speaking about this, Sipho shares that “we see bits of it in ourselves as young men, less potent but still present.”
‘She Might Bleed’ took Sipho eight months to record, write and produce, just in time for this defining moment. Sipho is always known to write his music and is very hands-on with his work. This trait isn’t any different with ‘She Might Bleed,’ as he and Joseph Rogers worked together in completing the EP. “It’s good to have that extra ear to say yes and no and give new ideas and different ways to look at things”, says Sipho, as he doesn’t shy away from creative input from others.
Sipho strategically picked songs he felt invoked the exact feeling and message he aimed to share with his listeners from a long list of songs. This is because he is firm believer that the best creatives are also the best curators and can help portray the message that he intends to. Sipho’s love for music began with his curiosity for writing and putting out music from age 11. At that young age, he was inspired by the authenticity in the music from Frank Ocean, Tyler the Creator, Solange, James Blake, Sampha. By the age of 15, he began working on his music, putting it on SoundCloud and garnering an audience. At the age of 18, during his A-Levels, he made the decision to pursue music fulltime and hasn’t looked back ever since.
Now, off the excellent reception from his last EP and single releases, Birmingham-based singer Sipho is giving us exclusive access to the world around his sophomore EP, ‘She Might Bleed’. Following its release last Friday, we caught up with the singer to talk about his inspiration, background, his other interests and the future of his music career.
The conversation which follows below has been lightly edited for clarity.
NATIVE: Hi Sipho, how are you doing? It’s so good to have you on call today. Congratulations on the EP ‘She Might Bleed’. How does this moment feel to you?
SIPHO: It’s nice to be putting out music. It’s a blessing. The time to get the chance to speak about things on record for a living and I guess take away all the different experiences that come with it. I’m super grateful
NATIVE: How would you describe your songwriting and creation process?
SIPHO: It comes from anywhere. It could be a movie , a conversation and taking all that information on Board. If I like it and it’s something I wanna work with
NATIVE: When you make music, who do you make it for? Are you just creating what you want or do you have an audience in mind?
SIPHO: I picture a lot of people. It’s mainly for whoever wants to listen but naturally you just absorb the things you see. I feel like the people I’m around and things I see are all reflected in my music. Being part of Gen-Z we are really weird and bizarre in the way we do things and being around these people it’s all gonna leak into the music.
NATIVE: Your chose to centre your EP around hyper-masculinity in society. What fed into that decision?
SIPHO: I feel it’s something that needs to be considered and talked about more cause it’s not. It’s not always my job to know why because I see myself as a vessel and I’m blessed with creativity but I get that kind of information from a higher place. I think it’s something that just has to be looked into more so we can affect some kind of change.
NATIVE: You’ve released “Occasion” & “Beady Eyes”, what do each of these track have to say about the overall message of the project?
SIPHO: In the EP I talk about “Occasion” first and with the way I wrote the EP, it was like a narrative. “Occasion” establishes the position of whoever it is that we are writing about and their struggle when it comes to love and their love interest. What I noticed in our generation is that we have an interesting struggle with love and with how on and off we can be with people we care about. It made me realise that although it’s in my generation we have to go further to everyone else really.
Although with how back and forth we are, there is still passion. Just the difficulty with accepting who you are and trying to figure out who you are. “Beady Eyes” is more of the uncomfortable side of things when it comes to figuring out things for yourself as an individual and managing other people’s expectations and what that can do in your head. But the music can be applied anyhow you want cause once this song goes out it’s not mine anymore
NATIVE: When putting together ‘She Might Bleed’ did you face any challenges or setbacks?
SIPHO: The whole EP has challenged me with the subject matter because I got to dive into something new and stretch myself even further, especially in the project’s final track. That’s where I found it the most challenging. It’s not the best I can do, but it’s pushed me in a good direction in terms of providing information and lyrics in a different way.
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NATIVE: Which artists do you see yourself working with and would merge seamlessly with your sound?
SIPHO: I have people that will be really cool but I don’t know if it will connect. I’d love to work with Bougie, the producer, Desire who is representing a whole new thing. I wanna get in a room with The Alchemist. Instead of just similarity in sounds I think philosophy attracts me more, what feels good, the way we make music and the creative process attracts me more. Let’s make a predictable and really good song or I could try something new and stretch my mind even further.
NATIVE: Have you faced any challenges being a young black man in the music industry
SIPHO: I may have but I don’t look at it that way. I’m blessed to be who I am in this industry because people are curious and thirsty for new perspectives. When I look at me, where I’ve been and where I’ve come from it will be an interesting aspect for people. The main challenge will be people mislabelling the genre of my music based on how I look. Like with beady eyes, that has been categorised as an R&B song but it’s more of a rock song and little R&B but would have been dodgers if someone else sang it. It’s more of me observing rather than a challenge for me. As long as I’m in the conversation people will understand and try to discern way better.
NATIVE: How do you see your music and musical career evolving in the next couple of years?
SIPHO: I see myself building a community. I want the experience of my music to go beyond just me and what it is to be something shared among themselves. In the next couple years I wanna be blessed to be able to do that asides from performing in shows and making more music. Just being able to engage with people that are for me and about me and that’s the least I can ask for. Just being able to make an impact on people. I have nothing to complain about.
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