Tugela Fairy (Made of Stars)

Simmy

Tugela Fairy (Made of Stars)

On her sophomore album Tugela Fairy (Made of Stars), Simmy continues to present her story to the world with poignant lyrics, and Afrohouse rhythms that deftly reference funk, Mbaqanga, Maskandi, EDM, R&B and gospel. "I feel like it’s my responsibility to put who I am out there," she tells Apple Music. “I think I’m more grown, more brave and have found myself now. I’m still telling the same stories but I’m taking more risks and I’m definitely a different Simmy. A star has always represented positive energy for me and I feel like I’m that star right now. I’m telling love stories to inspire people like me who are coming from rural areas and trying to make it in the world.” She talks us through each track on her empowering album below.
Intro “This is actually the one song that I composed. I’d been doing piano lessons for two years and I was just playing around. I had recorded the sounds of the night and it just reminded me so much of nights back at home—where there’s no loud noises or sounds of the city, just crickets. I’m a very whimsical person and it just made sense for the album to start like a fairytale or Disney movie.”
Indaba “You never really know enough about this love thing! There comes a time when you meet someone and are just figuring out all these new things. Basically ‘Aningtshelanga’ means, ‘you guys didn't inform me’. It’s really just a song about what I’ve found out when it comes to relationships and love itself. It’s about how I thought I had it all figured out and thought I’d never fall in such a way that I couldn’t think straight. But yeah, it happens and I was just playing around with words saying, ‘Well, what a surprise...you guys didn’t tell me!’”
Ngihamba Nawe (feat. Sino Msolo) “There’s a guitar riff you’ll hear that leads this song. When I first heard it, it was just like those classic songs at weddings: it had to be a beautiful love song. We wrote a dialogue between a lady and a guy who both like each other. In a way, the guy gets cold feet so the lady is like, ‘I don’t know what you’re thinking or worried about but I choose you.’ It’s really just a playful, happy love song.”
Hamba Ngifike “‘Hamba Ngifike’ was done when Ami [Faku] did ‘Into Ngawe’—around that time. She was with Sun-El Musician and they called me up ‘cause she just wanted to meet me. I went there, we immediately vibed and the song came about in one day. She’s just so beautiful and definitely serious about her work. The best thing you can be when you’re working with someone is humble, and that’s what you get with Ami. I remember Ami first hummed and from there we started discussing what we could do here. She explained how she usually does it and so did I, and we decided we’d speak in our own ways. We both really enjoy telling stories and we were talking about someone who’s left without mentioning why. Now we’re out there looking for him but also just infusing where we come from, because we mention our hometowns and different places where people say they’ve seen him.”
Imihla Nezolo “This is a beautiful love song—so calm. I’m just really reminding myself of the day I met this special person. The chorus just says that even today I still think about this person the same way. The way that person makes me feel is scary in a way but there’s nothing negative about it, it’s just all beautiful and I’m reminded of it everyday.”
Konke (feat. S-Tone) “‘Konke’ was actually done with ‘Umahlalela’ (from my previous album Tugela Fairy). These are the sounds of Claudio. He comes with his own feel and somehow you can hear he’s a coastal boy. I think one of the people that influenced him was Four7 and we also wanted to have a kwaito feel with it. It’s an inspirational song that we worked on with S-Tone once the beat was done and it really speaks of not giving up. Whatever you’re looking for is within you.”
Mabhungu “‘Mabhungu’ is inspired by one of the legends I grew up listening to—Mfaz’Omnyama. I took that sample and I’m really just telling the story of coming from a rural area. I miss the days when a guy liked you, and would take their time and actually get to know you—until they’re sure that this is what they’re looking for. I feel like guys don’t do that anymore and early into the relationship they realise there’s a clash. These surprises wouldn’t come up if you’d asked the right questions while you were asking me out. It’s another song where I just wanted to show who I am and what I know as a rural girl, in terms of how guys should approach and treat a lady.”
Emakhaya (feat. Da Capo & Sun-El Musician) “I learnt to find my way from a very young age and it’s really not that easy. When you leave home and come to Johannesburg, you’re literally making that decision that, ‘I’m leaving and I might probably only come back three times a year.’ I know this isn’t a story I’m telling for myself because a lot of us go through that. For me, where I come from is where my peace of mind is—it’s just mountains and chickens in front of your door—and even though I left young I can’t say it gets easier. When I got to the studio, I literally had the hook in 10 minutes and I sang it out. From there I carried on writing the song and there’d been this Zulu proverb in my head which basically means, ‘there’s no elephant that is weighed down by its trunk’. It just means there’s never a challenge put before you that you can’t face or pull through. I guess I’m an example of that.”
Stay With You (feat. Black Motion) “Working with Black Motion was so dope! We were in studio working on ‘LaSalsa’—the song that I’m featured on their new album [The Healers: The Last Chapter]. They were on a very tight deadline so I just took the beat and worked on it. If I hear something familiar, that’s how my sampling comes through. I was hearing some elements I’d heard on ‘Destiny’ by Malaika and that’s how the words came about. It’s always fun to reference songs that already exist but I never wanna take them as is—just share a different message. The story I had to tell was just about something or someone that’s your calmness in the darkest of times.”
Ngiyahamba (feat. Mthunzi) “‘Ngiyahamba’ was done at the end of 2018 and it was just a hook that sat there for a very long time. There was a song that Mthunzi sent while we were in studio and it reminded me of Shabalala Rhythm. They did Mbaqanga folk music and when I heard that song it just made sense. It’s like the songs I grew up listening to and I always try to show that I’m inspired by such sounds. Mthunzi is so crazy but really fun to work with—especially because he also comes from a place that has a rural vibe to it. So it’s always just us sharing those types of ideas.”
My Light “This song is one of the main representations of the album as a whole—it covers what I’m trying to do with this album. It’s a song that I worked on with Dr Moruti and (with the strings and everything) he just understood that it’s another war cry to really inspire myself and anyone else who’s sceptical about chasing their dreams or following a certain path. I was going through tough times and thought of the story of the three wise men that followed the star. That’s what I use to tell my story—my eyes look up to the sky and just like the three wise men, I follow. The star signifies positivity and light at the end of the tunnel. I’m just saying, ‘I better find my light.’”
We Were Here “‘Sisebancane’ is actually another war cry for every person, like me, who’s in a place they worked hard to get to but never really thought they’d be where they are. It’s always been a dream and something you imagined, but you never think it will actually happen. It’s a song reminding you to just push, work hard and see where that gets you. Maybe one day you’ll leave a mark!”
Time After Time “This one is made up of two samples—Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ and Lipps Inc’s ‘Funkytown’—and it was complete. I love sampling so much. I always take songs that I grew up hearing and work them into my music.”
Uhlale Wazi “‘Uhlale Wazi’ is such a special song because we recorded it in 2018 when I’d just lost my best friend that December. When I’m feeling sad or some type of way, I always turn to music. I was listening to Aphex Twin and from there I came up with the chorus and sent it to Sun-El Musician. It basically means, ‘Just always know that I will never forget you.’ As beautiful as it is, I didn’t want to put myself in a corner where I’d always have to be emotional when I’m performing the song. I kept the hook but changed the whole idea, so when I wrote the verses I created a dramatic story of someone who packed up and left because they heard stuff about me and listened to people.”
Wamuhle “This is one of my personal favourites. It was a challenge for me and I’m so proud to have been able to even approach it. I sampled Jabu Khanyile, another legend who blew me away as a kid. How it starts also reminded me of how 7de Laan starts and I just had to steal that!”
Angimale (feat. Khuzani) “‘Angimale’ was recorded when I really had no idea that I’d become Simmy—I couldn’t even control my voice back then! We were actually with Sun-El Musician’s younger brother and he put together a little music and I just sang on top of it. It’s about a girl hearing rumours and thinking of leaving a guy who’s messing around. Back home there are rituals done—especially for ladies—and there are songs we sing that represent what a woman is. It represents the Tugela Fairy and was just me sharing what I know. We sent it to Khuzani because he’s always been one of the people I’ve loved in regard to Maskandi. It wouldn’t have made sense to have that Maskandi sound and not have him on it, and he added those signature guitars while Sun-El added some electronic bounce to it.”

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