This project is supported through the Confluences open call, aimed at supporting a shared space for collaboration, creation, and documentation of new work between musicians who have an existing creative relationship.
Nonku Phiri and Dion Monti have been working together since they met in Johannesburg in 2015. Their collaboration was born out of improvisation and this continues to be the foundation of their artistic expression. Using electronic instruments, the artists’ sound is influenced by a broad range of musical styles, effortlessly moving from techno and house to R&B and soul as well as South African gernes such as Kwaito and Shangaan-electro. Their sound is intimate and personal, bold in its simplicity of production and loaded with presence and commitment in the moment of performance. Every show is unique to each place and audience.
“Whilst travelling, Nonku and I would often rehearse in hotel rooms and homes of new friends, preparing our set for the next unexpected context we would find ourselves in,” Dion explains. “During these sessions we would rehearse known material but often also create new ideas inspired by the environment we found ourselves in, be it cultural or interpersonal. Although we have released a handful of songs, our work has almost exclusively been accessible through live shows.”
From 1 March to 30 April 2023, the two artists will spend time together just outside of Cape Town re-connecting and engaging with their catalogue in a new way. They aim to complete a selection of songs and, for the first time, share with a larger audience a body of work as a record of their long-term collaboration.
The project is conceptualised around the title “What should we call this feeling (my love)?”. The artists explain, “This is a simple but powerfully intimate question that asks for the re-assessment of our basic vocabulary and language for feelings but also one that insists on the caring engagement and investment for understanding between (two) people. As our work has always been improvised and process-driven, our recorded work further encourages the re-thinking of processes of dialogue, listening and understanding. Improvisation, especially in front of an audience, is at its core a form of constant playful negotiation, a culture of harmonious and flowing alteration of disagreement and agreement between the artists, but also between the artists and the audience.”
The project will be a jointly release on Nonku’s label Albino Black and Dion’s label, Erratic Boulders.
Following the release of her debut solo single, the internationally acclaimed “Things We Do On The Weekend”, Nonku Phiri has established herself as one of the most distinctive and influential voices in South Africa’s music landscape. Effortlessly moving between disciplines, she has proceeded to become a sought-after collaborator, working with multiple artists, spanning continents and genres. In 2015, her burgeoning success led to Nonku embarking on her solo career journey. After years of travelling, performing and writing, 2023 will bear witness to the release of her highly anticipated debut album. Nonku has reached a juncture in her career where her creative voice and perspective are both clearly defined, congruently carving a path for her most impactful artistic journey to date.
Born in 1987 in Basel, Dion Monti is an artist and music-producer. With his sonic origins in sound design and experimental composition he has worked with artists such as Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi, Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum and Dunja Herzog on art installations, films and performances. His contributions are found in galleries, collections and museums around the world, most recently with Gabrielle Goliath’s video installation “This song is for…” at Kunsthaus Baselland and Kunsthaus Zürich. Since 2016 he has been creating and performing music with Nonku Phiri, which so far has taken them on two Asian-tours and shows in the USA, Europe and Africa. As a music-producer, Dion mostly works with artists of Johannesburg’s experimental imprint, “Mushroom Hour-Half Hour”, which he co-owns. Recent notable works include: Dumama & Kechou’s “Buffering Juju” and both albums by rotating collective SPAZA. All 3 albums gained great recognition by the international press and public. For the community he runs a series of talks, called “Chips & Etc”, to which he invites artists from different disciplines to speak about their journey in the context of music. Additionally, Dion is responsible for “CDR” in Johannesburg. A concept originated in London, around production workshops and sharing of works-in-progress within the Johannesburg music sub-culture. Dion lives in Basel and Johannesburg.