In Their Own Words: Nonku Phiri On Meeting Crazy White Boy

Crazy White Boy was my first dip into the commercial pool. My mom kept telling me about this white boy who sang at [now-defunct Cape Town club] Sapphire on house tunes, and then mentioned that they sounded like Goldfish. I was like nah, not interested. The day I broke up with my then-boyfriend, I went to Sapphire. My mom put me on the spot; she’d gone behind my back to go and speak to the manager of the joint on some can my daughter sing?

And there was this big, chubby guy with a mic in my face like here.

I was like oh god, and you’ve got a whole room of people being like yes, yes, yes!

Kinda went to the front and realised that the guy that was singing was Reuben, who I still remembered as being part of the Coca-Cola Pop Stars Top 20. He was the white guy from P.E. who could groove. I kinda jammed with him, lost myself in it, and then disappeared and didn’t see him. I thought that was just that.

Two/three weeks later, I bumped into him at the Bree studios. Apparently, he’d already been asking about me but didn’t know my name. As I walked in he was like yo, you need to go meet my friend Ryan, he’s busy working on a project and is looking for vocalists. I was like argh, whatever! But he kept on [asking] me. I called Ryan, found out that his studio was behind Vega, which was in Green Point.

I popped in for a day. The first thing he said was right, we’re auditioning vocalists. At this point I wasn’t even doing anything; I was the cipha chick wa ko Waiting Room. I was about to turn around when he played “Love you better“, which I liked. I thought Crazy White Boy was a black guy. A couple of weeks later, by chance, we recorded “Zoma“.

I’d just started working 9-to-5 at a 90-percent Afrikaans retail agency. These were the earlier days of Twitter. I saw a tweet with a photograph of the CD cover with “Zoma” on it, and I thought who still makes singles? They were like no, it’s the title track of the album.

That track kind of blew up, and I started gigging with the guys. It was fun little thing and eventually, I was able to prioritise what I wanted to do. I finished off my honours and quit work after a miserable 8 months, and have been making music, travelling and collaborating eversince.

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