He’s one of the shining new visual artists in the industry and you may have come across his work without even knowing it. He goes by the name of Wongani Zalilo Moyo. We recently had an interview with him about the New Wave and the music industry. Read below.

EP åalbum cover designed by Wongani
EP album cover designed by Wongani

Q. Who do you understand a new wave artist is?

A. From how I see it, New Wave artists are the Zambian millennials who believe in making a living off their crafts, talents or the various interests that they are into. Individuals who through the aid of the internet, apps and other modern tools push their gift to the world.

Q. What are your thoughts on New Wave music?

A. I think it has the right energy! But I feel some struggle in figuring out their sound and genre. A lot of them are really talented but don’t position themselves right, which I think they would figure out much easier if they just did their own original thing instead of trying to keep up with the western sound. I mean the western guys have systems that have been perfected over time. The fact is that they are ahead and we are just getting started. But we have a culture that we can fuse into our music to make it stand out. It’s gonna be amazing stuff once we do! I’ve also noticed a lot of New Wave artists are now working on getting managers, experimenting with new sounds, using quality song art (need more of those though), and marketing themselves. I just hope they are researching and planning well because if that’s not the case, we won’t have proper direction. That’s how I feel 😅.

EP back cover designed by Wongani
EP back cover designed by Wongani

Q. How long have you been designing?

A. A couple of years. I got involved with designing through my elder brother, KB, who owns a photography company. His company, Kwitu needed an assistant, so I signed up. I couldn’t actually shoot anything myself, so I got frustrated and knew I needed to develop skills to help beyond just holding up lights (laughs). So I started watching online classes and experimenting with the camera whenever my brother wasn’t using it. I love sketching and painting and I’ve been doing it since I was 6, so it was easy to learn and fuse the arts🎭. So after a while, I knew the basics and that developed into a wider range of visual art skills like painting, clothing designs and other things that I am yet to release through the joint collective brand that we call ‘G.H.A.D’ which I run with my boy Sifuniso.

Q. Tell us a bit more about your collective, what is G.H.A.D about?

A. So the name G.H.A.D is an acronym that stands for; Ground, Heritage, Artistic and Domain. The words represent how we hope to impact society as one fusion. Currently, it’s just the two of us because it’s easier to coordinate our projects the less we are. I look forward to seeing it grow to a point where we can put more work out. Currently, we just want to get it right and have the best quality of the product in order for people to experience and appreciate it.

Song artwork by Wongani
Song artwork for Muko and Ikko Ace by Wongani

Q. What about your lifestyle do you think makes you resonate with new wave artists? Do you have any things in common?

A. I feel I can relate to the new wave because we are all around the same age so we are all experimental with our fashion, music e.t.c and are more fluid about trying out new or different things. I understand not all of them may hit the mark, but we are learning and searching. Self-discovery is something we share and I can relate to that.

What I would say we have in common is rebellion. The older generations can look at it as disobedience but my fellow youths and creatives would view it as making a statement. And I feel making a statement enhances your purpose because then you actually stand for something.

Q. When you say “rebellion”. A rebel for what cause and against what exactly?

A. For self-expression and against society. Being taken seriously despite my age. Until a point where us the youth can really be listened to and not just told what to do all the time. Like there are certain things that society expects us to know, and when we don’t they automatically label us as “outcasts” or “lost children”. And I think social media will play a big role because that’s where we can vent and speak our minds – while others look at funny videos or show off or something (laughs).

Song artwork by Wongani
Red Audio song artwork by Wongani

Q. What does one need to understand to be able to design New Wave artwork? What makes it distinct?

A. Well, I’m not sure how to answer this question because I feel art has no rules. So as long as the artwork is complete and relates to the song.

I wouldn’t say there’s a distinct vibe or feel that New Wave art has because I see different approaches being used, so it hasn’t really been established. It’s still in its experimental stage. And I can’t really answer for everyone unless the question was about my art.

Q. So if you were designing for an old school rap artist, a reggae artist and a New Wave artist, would there be a difference in how you would approach each? What would be the elements that would make New Wave artwork distinct?

Yeah, I think there would be a difference in each of those designs. As much as art has no rules, it has certain accepted guidelines which even I follow and research on so the work correlates nicely.
I feel New Wave artwork will only be distinctive when each artist has passed through the experimental stage and identifies their specific aesthetic that they will be known for and stick to it even as it develops and interrelates with our culture. It’s all about research and learning till then.

Song artwork by Wongani
Song artwork for Names Martian, David Bliss & Ikko Ace by Wongani

Q. Your art leans a lot towards illustrations and sketches. Would you be open to doing something completely different and away from that or is that your signature style?

A. It’s my signature style, but I’m open to trying something new. For some of my work, I barely sketch, it’s usually about the typography. It varies from design to design.

Q. What do you look for in an artist before you can work with them?

A. Before I work with someone I ask them a series of questions and depending on the answers they give me, I’m able to tell whether they really know what message they want their music and my art to be communicating as one piece. Because the more the client is sure, the easier it is for me to capture their vision. And my vibe or aesthetic has a gothic feel to it, with a blend of light, so if that sort of art relates to their project they can expect dark, expressive, raw and thought-provoking art. Not to sound arrogant of course, I say that in the most humble way possible, if at all that’s possible, but yeah (laughs).

Concept song artwork for Natasha Chansa
Concept song artwork for Natasha Chansa by Wongani

Q. Dead or alive and not limited to location, who’s your dream artist who you would love to design for?

A. Paul Ngozi. May his soul rest in peace. Also, I would love to do art for The W.I.T.C.H (the band) if they were to do a comeback album (laughs).

Q. Paul Ngozi? How did a young man your age end up listening to Paul?

A. I used to watch his videos when I was really young on ZNBC, I think the show was called Sounds Arcade. And if anyone reading this remembers that show and its vibe then you’re really deep and YamäSKi🙏🏾 😂. My older siblings also contributed in exposing me to that kind of music.

Q. How can people get in touch with you?

A. They can reach me through my Instagram page @zalilo.g.h.a.d. Though I must mention I’m kind of picky with who I work with. Not to be snobbish, but because I know when creating a brand, it’s best to work with people that match your work. I seek quality over quantity – not exposure. I would rather have two artworks out that are really great and people appreciate them. Also, I don’t plan on doing this forever. My true ambitions are beyond just artwork design because I would like to paint more, design clothes more, do more photo shoots and explore my creative freedom.

Thank for reading. Connect with Wongani on Instagram by clicking this link. 

Feel free to leave us a comment below.

Song artwork by Wongani
Song artwork for Chembo Music by Wongani

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