Meet the Khoisan dream team (#Maybe you could have ‘Khoisan’ in a different colour so it stands out?)
Alone, they are Thabang Rasefako, 24, and Oratile Kofa, 21.
Together they are Khoisan, a vibrant group that has captivated the nation with their beautiful blend of music.
Originally formed at the back end of 2018 as a five-member band, five soon became two.
However, although their numbers diminished, Khoisan’s fame exploded, the pair swiftly establishing themselves as household names through hits such as ‘Sethubuge’ and ‘Sananpopo’.
Their latest melody to grip the country is ‘Mpoledise’, which has emerged as something of a soundtrack during these hard Covid-19 times.
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This week, as the duo prepares for their performance at the annual Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs) and the Miss Botswana beauty pageant, The Voice’s SHARON MATHALA squeezes in time for a quickie.
For the few, and there surely can’t be many, who have never come across the Khoisan brand, how would you introduce yourselves?
Thabang: We are a duo founded three years ago by Roc Lefatshe music record label.
Our sound is a fusion of modern and African sounds called Afro-fusion.
There used to be five of us now there are only two.
Oh, what happened to the other three?
Thabang: Like with any other organisation or group, we had a few internal issues that pushed to situations we could unfortunately not control.
We then decided to disband from five to two but I can assure you there is no bad blood between us all!
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It was more like an agreement made between the team and the label – unfortunately, at this point, we cannot share as to what extent the disagreements were about, but there were no fights.
Does this mean the other three original members have rights to Khoisan music?
Oratile: There is only one song which we recorded as a group and that is our debut single called ‘Marabele’.
I am of the view that when it comes to issues of copyright that is the only song they played a part in and would rightfully deserve a piece of the cake.
And what a cake it is! Since the split, you two have gone from strength to strength and are now one of the biggest music acts in the country. What went so right?
Oratile: We owe it all to the team behind us.
We are signed under a record label, which I have to say has made things extremely easy for us.
The truth is as artists the talent can’t do it for you alone, there has to be a proper PR, management behind you and I guess that is why you would say we have managed to captivate the industry in such a short space of time.
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Captivate the industry you certainly have. You were selected to perform at the FNB Africa Day concert back in May – tell us a bit about that?
Oratile: It was such an honor for us to represent Botswana on that big platform where the whole of Africa was watching for sure.
Thabang: Just to add on that, it was actually through a voting system first, where FNB called on Batswana to vote for whom they would like to see perform and so it was through the popular public vote.
We were paired with the Mophato Dance crew.
It was such an amazing experience because it was a really big thing.
In general, as we all know, Covid-19 has hit the music industry incredibly hard.From a more immediate perspective, how has this affected Khoisan’s growth, especially considering the pandemic pounced just when you guys were starting to take off?
Oratile: Well it is quite a difficult space and time for every artist at the moment.
We have had to learn how to adjust from being entirely dependent on physical shows to now get on with the online world.
We have had to increase our footprint on social media and become more interactive with our followers because more than ever they needed to know we are alive, we are still with them. It is a learning curve and we are still trying to adapt.
Thabang: To be fair in Botswana it is extremely challenging because access to the Internet is not entirely across the country.
It is not easy to convince someone in the outskirts of towns that they should pay for your music online, but we remain optimistic.
I have realised you have not been putting out much music lately, why is that?
Thabang: (laughs) We have not been putting out a lot of music because to be fair we need to benefit from it as well.
We needed to find a balance because at the same time our fans and followers also needed to feel that we are still in the game.
So it is all about finding the right balance.
But when is the album coming?
Oratile: The truth is we have decided to go back to the studio.
At this stage, we can’t discuss much the album but it is coming.
It will come next year!
Your single ‘Mpoledise’ is massive and is already one of the undoubted tracks of the year. Did you expect the song to do as well as it has?
Thabang: I think the song came at the right time.
The message of the song resonated with what most Batswana were going through at the time.
Covid-19 had hit a lot of families at the time and so the song gave them comfort.
We have received a lot of enquires people asking if we released the song for the Covid-19 situation but that was not the case; it just came at the right time I guess, and it evoked a lot of emotions.
You have been nominated for both the YAMAs, happening this weekend, and BOMUs set for next month. How confident are you of bagging an award?
Oratile: We are nominated for two categories at the YAMAs and four with the BOMUs.
All the categories have major competition, so we don’t know what to expect really, we can only hope for the best.
Your colleagues in the music industry have been calling on Government to re-open the industry, what is your view?
Thabang: I personally feel that what the Government is doing in terms of putting measures in place to curb the pandemic, which unfortunately means closing out some sectors of the economy, is a necessary evil.
It has to be done. We have our grievances, yes, but we have to overlook a lot of factors for the safety of the nation at large.
At this time we can only remain hopeful until better days.
You are red hot and in demand at the moment, are you not worried that by the time things return to normal you might be out of fashion?
Oratile: We like to believe we make timeless music.
Our genre will always be in fashion so I don’t think it can ever get out of fashion.
Getting a little personal, away from music, what do you do?
Oratile: Actually I am a student but I have a passion for art in makeup.
So I do that part time.
Thabang: I had taken a gap year from schooling but I am going back to University next year.
I am also into entrepreneurship.
How has fame affected your personal life, looking at the fact you are both still so young?
Oratile: It is all positive because now with the exposure I have through Khoisan I am able to meet and interact with a lot of people and as much as they come to me hoping to learn, I learn a lot from them too.
Thabang: For me I have learned to do what is right even away from the people.
It is always better to do right and that is what I have learned with fame, that whatever I do behind closed doors it might come back to me.
Now to matters of the heart – outrageously good looking, successful and famous, how’s the love life going? Are you guys taken?
Thabang: (laughs) No.
TGIF, what will you be up to this Friday?
Thabang: We have a really tight schedule this week; we will be at rehearsals for the YAMAs and Miss Botswana.