Musician, fashion designer and mother of three Moonchild Sanelly is busy taking the South African music industry by storm with her undeniably unique sound.
Real name Sanelisiwe Twisha, Moonchild was born in Port Elizabeth and raised between New Brighton, KwaMagxaki and KwaDwesi, where she grew up listening to music with the hope of one day starting her own girl group.
The former Woolhope Secondary School matriculant has travelled the world, performing at South by South West (SXSW) in the United States and Primavera Pro in Spain last year.
With an eccentric dress sense and a strong sense of self, Moonchild Sanelly chats to Weekend Post about her musical journey.
How did you come up with Moonchild?
My mom was umntu wesingxobo, so she would see things before they happen. The moon and a healer have one word in Xhosa, which is inyanga (moon). I’m the child of a celestially gifted woman.
Growing up, what did you think you were going to become?
In the spotlight or a social worker, and now I’m basically both. I’m a social entertainer … (chuckles).
I grew up listening to music at home and even started a girl group. My mom organised gigs for me at her work place.
What’s the first song you remember jamming to and where were you?
Spice Girls’ If You Wanna Be My Lover. I remember being drawn to the those “I wanna I wanna I wanna I wanna zigi zig ahhhhh” lyrics.
What came first to you, the style or music?
Music and fashion have always been in my life so I’m not really sure.
How did you come up with your sound and how would you describe it?
I call my sound Future Ghetto Funk. It stems from my strong kwaito, jazz and hip-hop background. I just wanted to have fun with music and not do the safe sounds. I wanted to put my animated headspace to life and I started playing. Happy to say I’m still having fun.
Who are some of your musical or style influences?
It’s crazy how I don’t follow mainstream names and I feel like a superhero, yet playful and informative. I love combining sensuality with play – a sort of sexy doll. Musically, I love Thandiswa Mazwai, Paloma Faith, Santi Gold, Mia, Beyonce, Letta Mbulu and Caiphus Semenya.
Your style has been described as raunchy. How would you respond to that?
I own my sensuality, I’m unapologetic and I make sense. It’s understandable for people to find their own descriptions after I shock them. Boom Shaka, TKZee went through their own initiation before they changed the country. I believe it’s part of a greatness to come and I shockingly own my body!
What are some of the projects you’re working on?
There’s been a lot of work happening. I have a single dropping soon with LOCNVL, I’m shooting a video with a Japanese band I’ve just collaborated with called #Weird. I’m also featured in The Kiffness’s album.
Recently someone said to me that being an artist in PE is probably the worst thing that could happen to that artist. What do you think?
I think that is not entirely true. I believe being an artist from PE can be your edge but unfortunately not in your city. I grew up in a hip-hop producing studio from when I was in school. I saw talented people come and go, get excited and give up and now I go home and see them having settled for day jobs and sounding hopeless. My upbringing added to my uniqueness.
How often are you back in the Windy City?
Funny enough I’ve never performed at home, but I do come visit maybe twice a year.
How do you balance being a mother of three and being constantly on the road travelling?
I’ve got the most amazing support, my auntie MamaSpeyks is the most amazing mother in the world and I am forever grateful to her. My children’s grandmothers are heaven-sent and I am fortunate to have such support.
Any performances lined up for PE in the near future?
Nothing I know of as yet. It would be dope to come back and perform there. Let’s see what happens!