He felt a deep attraction to the world of the arts from primary school and Shamrock Guitor has never looked back.
With music production an already acquired skill, Shamrock Guitor (real name: Thembinkosi Ndala) became one of the few in his region to perform live house music while mixing and playing the guitar which has become synonymous with his musical persona.
The East of Jo’burg-born band leader moved on to varsity life in the capital of South Africa, Pretoria, a fertile ground for the composer known to be the go-to guy for coordinating sound functionality for shows. The renowned guitarist possesses the uniqueness of seamlessly infusing deeply rooted African elements with a pleasant dose of a nuance of groovy house. His first professional EP released with UK based Do It Now Records cemented his arrival to the international afro house arena with the EP garnering a spot in the top ten rankings.
Founder of UK staple Peng Records, Andy Compton, details how Shamrock’s album African Music by African People joined Peng’s catalogue by fate’s encounter:
His impeccable fusion of an all-African melody with a dash of house music derivatives makes Shamrock’s music production a true jewel. Records such as People of the Rain, Watch and African Music by African People fill the airwaves of the World Show on Kaya FM by award winning DJ and educator NickyB. Never missing out on an opportunity to play music she feels the show resonates with, NickyB holds a high banner for producers like Shamrock to be heard and recommends anyone that loves house music, lounge, afro house and African music all-in-one get their ears on his material.
Having worked with an array of artists such as Kafele Bandele, Chicago-based Carla Prather and Elbert Phillips and Sir-LSG (GOGO Music), the founder of Gotto Records (established this year) has since released two singles Utekka and Put On Your Dancing, and notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, Shamrock featured on the Chameleon EP by Vick Lavender of the Sophisticado Music Group. His studio album released through Peng Records (2019) is readily available on digital stores under the title Unapologetic African Sounds.
Mr. Shamrock I would like to gracefully welcome and thank you for joining us.
Thank you for this interview Kayibiza. Thanks for considering me.
First and far most I’d like to you to tell us where your love of the arts stemmed from?
I think I got it from my mother because she loved the arts very much. She was a designer by profession and she loved singing while working. And she was good.
Throughout your career you have been part of different music bands. How has this positively influenced your creative process?
It really opened my ears because today I’m able to play and produce different genres and sometimes fuse them to come up with unique sounds.
We are planning to promote African sounds to the world and encourage the youth to listen and produce African sounds. Because if we don’t do that the music will die.
What is your take on the importance of collaborations?
I think it is very important because it exposes one to a different market. I call it “exchanging fans.” Which means you have to be very selective with whom you collaborate with.
Could you name a few African artists whom have been instrumental in your career and choice of sound?
For sure. I remember the first time I heard Africa – Salif Keita and Band Bang – Femi Kuti, I went crazy. I love Fela Kuti, Seun Kuti, Femi Kuti, Sipho Gumede, Ommo Singare, Ebo Tailor and many more since I enjoy listening to different sounds and genres.
Having worked with a host of musicians, how do you approach each feature?
Honestly most features came to me because of the guitar. Most producers can’t play guitar and they want it in their tracks, so they hit me up and we start working. Once you crack the ice it’s easier to go for a second project.
But besides all I think it’s more about my pace of working and personality. I think I’m easy to work with and I work faster.
Please tell us about your relationship with your guitar and why has it been your choice in musical instruments?
I always wanted to play violin but it is not a common or accessible instrument where I’m from. So my second love was guitar. I bought my first one from Cash Crusaders! [laughs] I started messing around with until I understood the basics. I’ve never looked back since then.
Expand more on your record label Gotto Records and what you hope to achieve through it?
Gotto Records is my new baby. I’ve always wanted to start one but I didn’t have the right team nor the right market to sell my music to. So I waited for the right moment to come and finally 2018 I got the team and we started planning until this year.
We are planning to promote African sounds to the world and encourage the youth to listen and produce African sounds because if we don’t do that the music will die. We hope to be able to fuse it with house and afro house music.
What do you think are some of the lessons that came along with Covid-19 for musicians and the industry they find themselves in?
Even though 2020 is a bad year for musicians it has been very good to me. All producers are in studio so they need some guitar work which means more money for me and since the currency is in a bad slope it benefits me since most of my income comes from overseas. I have learnt that you should really promote yourself and let people know what you can do and how you can help them.
Your smooth blending of African melodies with house music has pulled the attention of many musicians’ abroad and fans alike. What do you think are some of the limitations for South African artists hoping to make a move overseas?
Even though social media is a platform to write anything you want, it can also be a limit to make a move abroad because if you post in your home language how do you expect people from abroad to follow you? Your content should be welcoming. Flying procedures and the costs that follow can be challenging if you are not financially stable. Therefore I see it as a limit to fully connect with your friends and fans oversees.
You’re known to always have a project up your studio sleeves. Is Gotto Records studios brewing some summer jams?
Big time. We have three EPs done already waiting for the right time. We are dropping something at the end of August as well as end of October. We have another project in progress featuring Sir LSG, Vick Lavender and Andy Compton of course.