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Kulati pens songs rooted to her inner feelings

Singer says she avoids overthinking things

Thango Ntwasa Lifestyle Digital Editor
Viwo Kulati
Viwo Kulati
Image: Supplied

When looking at today’s R&B acts, they are a far cry from what the genre offered in the 1990s.

A lot of the sounds and songs can be alternative, dedicated to a sense of melancholy. 

Perhaps a reflection of the disaffected youth who listen to it, there’s no denying that the genre has changed and, whether it is good or bad, is purely related to the listener.

In comes Viwo Kulati, with a distinct voice that flows with the rest of her age-mates and stands out for her distinct perspective on hope, loss and as her debut EP suggests, Love.

Much like a number of singers who owned the 1990s scene, Kulati was trained from the ripe age of three. It was only in her secondary years of schooling that the Makhanda native realised her passion for music and started to study it at school.

Speaking to her following the launch of her EP, Kulati shares her musical journey, her creative process and Love.

What is the process you take when writing your music for Love?

I took my time, firstly. I just wanted to sound like me. I moved away from jazz because I just don’t feel that was really my sound. I wanted to figure out what I like and I discovered deep down I’m an R&B girl with soul and jazz influences. I spoke to the producer and I took my time writing and we got to a point this year where it sounded good.

How did the training you have help you as a singer?

I feel like it helped expose me to different types of music, and when you have different types of influences it helps grow your tone and technique as well as your understanding of stage presence.

How did you come to work with Wilson Okafor, your producer, who is based in Nigeria?

I’ve known him since 2018 when I was a part of the Emirates Pursuit of Jazz competition. During that time he saw something in me and he offered to work with me in the future. But then life didn’t let that happen. Luckily we worked together again on a collaboration and then we started working on my project.

What was the process like creating music with someone so far away?

It was kinda tricky because he had his own ideas and when I would send recordings of things he would feel that we need to be in one place, but we made it work. He would send feedback on how to sing certain parts and I would just go back to studio and fix it. I feel that’s why it took so long to finish the EP.

Why was it important to discuss love in your EP?

I feel like through observations in our daily lives, we preach so much that we should love each other and we should be kind and all of that but we don’t practice it but people still feel unloved. Whether it’s family settings, friendships or relationships the EP is a reminder again that we are nothing without love. Everything else doesn’t matter. We just need to love each other well.

Were any of the songs taking from your personal life experiences?

A lot of people who listen to Ungowam imagine being in the relationships and their wedding day but to me, when I was writing the song, it was about finding God and His love in my life.

There has been a lot of talk about getting R&B singers who belt and perform with dynamic voices to make a comeback. What guides the approach you have taken with the effortlessness you perform with?

I don’t overthink it. When I write the songs, I sing it the way I feel it. In terms of the melody of the song, I go into studio and sing it the way I feel it.

With so many public figures getting cancelled for a number of issues, were you not scared of being cancelled for the sample on So Fine that is taken from Michael Jackson’s Human Nature?

I was kind of scared but I did feel it was a risk that I’m willing to take. As long as I’ve cleared the sample properly I was happy but whatever anyone says – I love the song and it’s good for the EP.

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