Exclusive interview: Toya Dela

Image: Supplied

Exclusive interview: Toya Delazy on explosive isiZulu album ‘Afrorave Vol 1’

Toya Delazy is celebrating the lyricism of her native tongue whilst delivering dance-floor fillers with her latest album, ‘Afrorave Vol. 1’.

Exclusive interview: Toya Dela

Image: Supplied

Pioneering South African MC, Toya Delazy is set to drop her explosive new album, Afrorave Vol. 1, recorded purely in isiZulu on 18 June 2021.

Toya Delazy on Afrorave Vol. 1

Drawing upon her South African heritage as well as the cultural nuance of her London surroundings, Toya Delazy has carved out her own unique sonic lane and aesthetic, thriving in a cacophony of colour, beats and translocated culture. Already heralded as ‘one to watch’ – 2020 saw Toya release her Afrorave single, Qhawe, recently nominated for Best Produced Music Video for this year’s Annual South African Music Awards (SAMA27). Toya was also recently featured as one of ‘17 Women Shaping African Dance And Electronic Music’ in MixMag, the world’s biggest dance, music, and clubbing destination.

Now, with the release of her new body of work, Toya’s relentless creativity looks set to continue her trajectory as one of the brightest talents of 2021. Toya said that the album was triggered by the lockdown which saw various nations close their borders due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“During the lockdown, the carpet was yanked from beneath our feet and we really felt it as artists,” Toya told The South African .

“Having no shows, government or income in the foreseeable future, I just submerged myself into music and pushed towards completing the Afrorave album.”

Sharing a piece of her heritage with the world

The album – created with an international community of collaborators from England to South Africa – saw Toya pull from the last few offerings she put together. What’s more, the musician wanted to celebrate the lyricism of her native tongue and deliver high-energy dance-floor fillers. 

“Knowing your history is an empowering thing. When I arrived overseas I noticed that a lot of people of colour did not know their history.”

She mentions The Battle of Isandlwana which saw the Zulus ultimately overwhelm the British forces in 1879.

“It was a humiliating horrific defeat…just knowing that your ancestors were fearless and stood for their values and culture until the bitter end is empowering and gives us a sense of pride in everything we do.”

Toya, therefore, decided to reclaim her language.

“We as people of colour have always been policed. We have never really confidently come out as ourselves. There is a price to pay to be genuine. In our case, there is a price for all of us that aren’t conventional. A simple example is when a black woman goes for a job application and feels compelled to wear a weave or a wig instead of going in with natural hair –  she does this only because she is afraid that she will not get the job. isiZulu allowed me to give my European friends and fans a glimpse into my culture and we found a means of communicating through rave. It’s the best of both worlds for me as I get to stay connected with my people whilst sharing a new cultural experience and a piece of my heritage with the world.”

With this album, Toya ultimately wants her fans to look after their mental health, be proud of their culture, and experience other cultures.

“Connect with the world because it’s possible to be both cultured and learned…and it’s beautiful. I hope it inspires them to want to travel and always go for what they want.”

As for the future, Toya is looking for more gratitude, more music, Afrorave and alternative fashion.

Image: Supplied

The first single

The album’s first single, Resurrection displays the breadth, scope and direction of her new project – an affirmation of a world coming back to life. Co-produced by local South African producer Mxshi Mo, it’s a soul-reaffirming reintroduction to one of the most expressive young artists coming through right now.

The new music video, directed by Cape Town-based Kyle Lewis, is a wild, expressive and surreal conceptual music video that works in African tribal motifs, zombies and VHS party footage. This bold, aesthetic video makes a suitable visual bed for the innovative and impactful crescendo of techno, bassline and African percussions bedded under Toya’s trademark Zulu raps.

Speaking on the track, Toya says: “The song is about reclaiming myself, my spirit and roots, and more generally in a post lockdown world, the global rebirth, AKA we’re all going to be party animals.”