The eagerly awaited offering from the multi-award winning South African musician features Mabandla exploring the depths of love in a song about being flawed, in love, and loving an imperfect person. The song “Noba Bangathini” also heralds the beginning of a brand-new creative outpouring from Mabandla and producer Tiago Correia-Paulo, one that deftly propels the music into a rich and captivating landscape where synthesisers or drum loops are as essential as Mabandla’s distinctive acoustic guitar.
Bongeziwe shared with PAM that this forthcoming album will be the last offering to completely center love as the subject. Mabandla admits that he has not completely let go of the subject of love but is surely nearing the end of its exploration in his music. With that being said, this next album promises to be introspective and delves into the complexities of choosing love – standing up for your own heart and pursuing what you want even if it is not in your own interest.
“Noba Bangathini,” is a vow with oneself to pursue one’s desires without the eager support and encouragement from your loved ones. It is about going to rectify what you feel needs to be mended at a place that you once experienced hurt. It is a journey of choosing your own desires while leaping into the uncertainty of being well received. PAM sat down with Bongeziwe Mabandla to explore this theme of love.
What does companionship feel like to your five sense?
To my ears it sounds like encouragement. To the nose it smells like fresh bread… Actually, it smells of home. To my mouth it is sweet and rich kind of like honey. To the eyes, this is the trickiest one. But to my eyes it looks like dark skin. To the touch it is strong.
In your previous offerings, it sounds like you are someone who will give anything to love and “Noba Bangathini” affirms that you are willing to go back to places where you have been hurt. I am curious to know, what does your relationship with letting go look like?
I mean, I wrote a whole song about letting go, “Isiphelo“. I’m definitely a leaver. That’s what one of these songs [on the new album] “Sihleleleni Na?” is about. I think it is going to be really dope because I think people are really going to see themselves. It is written about why people stay in unhappy relationships. I understand it, that’s why I wrote a song about it. Even with “Isiphelo” I understand how hard it can be to leave a relationship where there is still love but you are not as invested as you once were. It is probably my most relatable song. Someone told me it feels like a death to them. When I left that relationship, there was a lot of love but there were many complexities and a small voice in my head that was saying, “I don’t think I belong,” it was never “I don’t love you anymore.”
Why do you think people are hesitant to love?
I’m never hesitant. I think love is very revealing, especially if you have experienced neglect or rejection. Sometimes it is very hard to survive not being loved by someone you love.
Bongeziwe and I concluded that “Noba Bangathini” is a melodic interpretation of the well known phenomenon called “Love Back”, or sometimes better known as “LB”. It is when a relationship has dissolved but there is plenty of love to share and experience with the same individual who may have hurt you once before or someone you have hurt. It is about the courage it takes love fully and without restraint. Standing up for your heart and knowing that no matter the outcome, you have not abandoned yourself by going back to that former partner.
Listen to “Noba Bangathini” in our Songs of the Week playlist.