NATIVE Exclusive: Nakhane & Moonchild Sanelly Want To Talk About Sexual Politics

"Being an artist is like being a priest, I take it very seriously"

Women have always talked about sex amongst themselves. In art, that’s no different, and it’s a conversation that’s getting louder in Africa’s notoriously conservative society, from authors honouring the sex lives of African women to female music artists holding a mirror to the more cruel experiences on the spectrum. However, society still responds with outrage whenever women openly talk about their sexual relations with recent examples such as Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” birthing a movement and becoming a talking point on social media timelines. In this same vein, in Africa, women are leading a similar revolution around their sexual politics.

Several women frontrunners in Afropop, from Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage to Ghana’s Amaarae, are stepping on the necks of misogyny and societal chagrin through the execution of empowering and affirming lyrics. In a world that vilifies, silences, and marginalises women who engage in owning their own sexual agency, we need more women with huge platforms that are tell the daily, mundane, and majestic sexual stories of African women. 

It is this double standard that South African artists, Nakhane and Moonchild Sanelly set out to discuss on their latest collaboration, “Tell Me Your Politik.” The single, with Nakhane as headliner and featuring guest contributions from Moonchild Sanelly and Nile Rodgers, is a mutually charged political and sexual number that prospective lovers be ideologically aligned before partaking in sexual trysts. Fierce, urgent and defiantly lacking subtlety, Nakhane and their collaborators are resolute in the idea that sex is a political act.

Moonchild Sanelly is a powerhouse of female sexuality, independence, and dominance, and as such, collaborating with her was an obvious choice for the empowering number. “I wanted to create something that would keep me interested. I wanted to make something that was not only looking at sound, but also as a non-binary person to see and play with muscle because the last album everything was really soft, flowing and feminine and I loved that but with anything that I do, I do it and I’m done,” Nakhane shares with the NATIVE, a few weeks after the song’s release.

The accompanying video also sees Nakhane in their directorial debut. Taking inspiration from the 1999 French army film ‘Beau Travail’, the world formed and exhibited in the video is aggressive and brutalist and appropriately reflective of the track’s political themes. Together, Moonchild Sanelly and Nakhane offer a deeper emotional palette into a topic that is typically criticised for its reinforced misogyny against women and non-binary people. The song couldn’t be more timely.

Ahead of their forthcoming project, we caught up with Nakhane and Moonchild Sanelly about the collaboration, the idea behind the record as well as forthcoming projects they both have.

Our conversation which follows below has been lightly edited for clarity.

NATIVE: Hey Moonchild and Nakhane, how are you both doing?

Moonchild: I’m awesome, thank you. It’s been going good. Just got back from tour and I’ve just been working on singles for December and South African summer and yeah I’m good really.

Nakhane: I’m good, I’ve been sleeping really well. I’m just excited that I’m doing this now. Yeah, it has been four years since my last project.

So how would you both describe the music you make?

Nakhane: I think about this question a lot because I’ve been in this industry for so long and I should have a quick answer for it. I think it’s because we live in a time where genres have really become quite difficult to define. I’ve always said that I make pop music and I mean it in the sense that, pop music is centred on making music for the popular world, for the public, so what that means to you differs from person to person. I’ve always wanted to make it on my own terms which is what I’ve done with the project I’ve been working on.

Moonchild: Music is like an art piece, like what does it say to you? How does it speak to you? I just play a lot, think it and write as I go. I know what my theme is but I don’t know what genre it’s gonna come through.

Nakhane: I don’t know if many musicians actually think that way. Some things are not easily described, music or any kind of art. I think the more you describe it, the thinner it becomes. You take something away from it by describing it and killing it away, instead of enjoying it for what it is.


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A post shared by NAKHANE. (@nakhaneofficial)

Let’s talk about the new single “Tell Me Your Politik.” The entire track is a call to action demanding that prospective lovers be ideologically aligned before partaking in sexual trysts. What inspired you both to talk about the orgasm gap that women and men face? What inspired that conversation?

Nakhane: Real life experiences inspired that conversation. Truly, I kept on thinking about experiences that I’d had with people I was sleeping with that I thought, “God if I had known this is who you are, before I had slept with you, I would never even have started talking to you.” I think that as much as sex is fun, it’s still an exchange of energies. I’ve spent too much of my time in this world hating myself, so why don’t I do this thing that I really enjoy with people that don’t make the world feel like shit.

In Africa, we are taught to shy away from sex, especially as women. What inspired you both to speak audaciously about women and our bodies?

Moonchild: After I lost my virginity, I wrote about sex like crazy. It’s not something I thought about like that, it was really just what I felt and it was sex. I guess now it’s just my experience, growing and knowing people so I don’t think I decided like that.

Nakhane: Exactly, what you said, “I don’t think I decided.” I think it’s one of those things where your subject matter chooses you, it’s your obsession, it’s the things that you’re thinking about in your waking and dreaming life and they’re going to come whether you know it or not. Sometimes you write something and it’s only years later you go “Oh! So this is what this meant.” I know it’s crazy when you literally listen to your song and something is happening that you wrote a long time ago, it was like a prophecy.


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A post shared by NAKHANE. (@nakhaneofficial)

Nakhane, this song is also a departure from your earlier singles in terms of the sound direction. You’re typically more pop-leaning but this fuses a lot of South African Gqom and Kwaito, was this deliberate in any way? Will we see you experimenting more with these sounds?

Nakhane: I wanted to make something louder, harder and more intense, something I could perform. It’s just also a promise I made to myself when I was in my twenties, that I’ll always write a piece of work that feels up tempo and related to dance music because dance music is such a pivotal part of our culture. I wanted to create something that would keep me interested. I wanted to make something that was not only looking at sound, but also represented me as a non-binary person, to see and play with different sides of me. On the last album, everything was really soft, flowing and feminine and I loved that but with anything that I do, I do it and I’m done because I don’t ever want to do it again. So, I wanted to go to the other side and see what this is like, to play with it and use masculinity because honestly the connotations are masculine.

What more do you both think can be done to level the playing field for women and men in sex and relationships?

Moonchild: I mean for people that are older, it’s just about empowering them actually but for kids, there’s a lot of work to be done in changing how they think and see themselves, starting with confidence and body positivity which is a very big thing in my music. I know I usually sneak in some silvers in but I didn’t this time. So, it’s like you’re writing for your future-self thinking you’re writing for your young self. Literally, because that’s all I listen to, I only listen to myself when I go through stuff and it’s only my friends that made me realise, when you go through something you listen to a song you’ve already spoken about, so it’s like you’re writing for what you needed when you were younger, and at the same time writing for your future self.

Nakhane: I guess it’s a reminder because we have everything we need , except to remind ourselves that we have everything we need but the world is set up to make us think that we need things from outside that we need this product or this person or whatever but it’s all there you know, we just need to remind ourselves. And I think we’re lucky as artists if we’re aware that we have the capacity to write those truths for ourselves. I’ve always said that being an artist is like being a priest, I take it very seriously.


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A post shared by Moonchild Sanelly (@moonchildsanelly)

What advice do you wish you knew as a young girl growing up?

Moonchild: I grew up with a very vocal mother, I was allowed to share my feelings and because I was touring outside already from primary school I was exposed to my country more than my friends, adults or people around me, so I was already allowed to dream big. I would want every young girl growing up to be as vocal and confident as possible. 

Will there be more collaborations to look out for? Maybe a joint EP or project?

Nakhane: Well I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about but a project is on the way. It’s very good, I’m really proud of it. It’s been late for a long long time. It’s everything that I  want it to be and I worked with some incredible artists like Moonchild. I feel really blessed that the world is finally going here while I’ve been cooking up and I’m making a short film!

And what’s next for you both individually?

Nakhane: Well I’m making a film and I’ve got a project coming up. I’ll be on tour next year. I’ll be performing at the YQ Gallery as well. I’m just living my life and making good things. 

Moonchild: Well my album just dropped June, July this year. And I’ll be recording the rest of my project next year in February and touring I guess as well.

Watch the video for “Tell Me Your Politik” here.

Featured Image Credits/Israel Ajayi