The little misfit

Zolani Mahola of Freshlyground talks about new side project, Mzfitz

Bubbly Zolani Mahola is as pretty as a peach; she’s wearing a cute black and white patterned dress with a heart-shaped bust. Her hair is up in a cheeky Mohawk-style and from one ear dangles an earring made from pink seaweed.  Most appealing though is her wide smile. This is a girl who effortlessly emanates genuine warmth, a quality that’s seen her become one of South Africa’s most loved music figures. That, and of course, the ever so catchy, afro-pop sound of Freshlyground.

Grabbing my hand, we walk up Long Street to new restaurant Down South. The interior is slick and minimalist; wooden benches make up the seating and there are textured wood and stone walls—a clean, cool oasis in the middle of a busy, colourful street.

A band of Mzfitz

I’m meeting Zolani to chat about her new side project, Mzfitz. “The project won’t affect Freshlyground negatively,” she says. “The songs that we’re working on I’ve been writing for ages. It’s a different style completely. I wanted to work with other musicians and try out new combinations.”

The idea was born out of a collaboration put together especially for folk music event, The Flamjangled Tea Party. The members are mostly from Freshlyground, including Zolani Mahola, Kyla-Rose Smith, Shaggy Scheepers and Julio Sigauque with Nick Turner of Mikanic and Sons of Trout fame added into the mix.

We decide on a platter of butterflied prawns with a side of whipped potatoes. Zolani rolls her eyes at me, when I tell her to block her ears when she hears the potatoes screaming from the kitchen.

 “The music’s very different to Freshlyground,” Zolani is saying. “More intimate, acoustic. Almost like country music.” There are no plans yet for world domination, Zolani and the rest of the group are just happy to experiment with this new sound and see where it takes them.

Our prawns arrive, beautifully white. It’s a simple, clean dish. The whipped potatoes are decidedly more-ish. We tuck in with fingers. It seems it’s just that kind of place.

“We have three guitars and a violin, which gives us a gentle, folk-y sound,” Zolani continues. “Our debut performance will be at The Flamjangled Tea Party.”

As we walk out into the sunshine, I query Zolani about the name, Mzfitz. “Well,” she says, “I’ve always liked the name. And I consider myself to be a bit of a misfit.”

Watching her walk away, her pink seaweed earring glinting in the sunshine, I think to myself that the term, misfit, has never had a more positive connotation.

By Malu Lambert

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Down South
267 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | + 27 (0)21 422 1155

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