By Raymond Millarge Langa
As an instrumentalist, I have linked with different music producers, some with the state-of-the-art studios, while others operate backyard recording studios.
But, what is apparent about the skills sought for by artists in these recording studios is good sound.
A producer, therefore, needs to understand the sound that an artist seeks to bring out, versatility and the different music genres to stimulate listeners as music production means creativity, mixing and mastering the beat.
Most musical production in the globe has taken a monotonous approach where there is this “bookish” mentality that the studio atmosphere must be at a nice quiet set-up in order to enhance the quality of sound.
But nowadays there are home studio environments, actually referred to as “backyard studios” in high-density suburbs that have produced very good music and sound, which is appealing to the ear.
One notable music producer in Bulawayo, who runs a backyard studio is Prosper Siyamdumisa Ndlovu, who is known in the music circles as Siya P. He has proven that despite running a backyard recording studio, musical production is an art where the producer has to be able to separate every sound into fragments and align them into bars and good timing.
In essence, Siya P remains one of the most interesting creative profiles of unsung backyard music producers in this era, yet he represents a generation of young artists who cannot afford recording rates at conventional recording studios. These young musical artists have pursued their musical passion through production from the context of the home; or simply a bedroom studio.
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Traditionally, a studio environment is usually a “professional set up” located in the outskirts where there is less noise which can affect acoustics, and the background is characterized by state of the art equipment. But yet we also overlook the power of a well-managed and curated home studio. We overlook the fact that backyard studios are young people creating their own self-employment.
Siya P’s backyard recording studio in the Nketa 6 suburb of Bulawayo has withstood the Covid-19 pandemic, is less costly for artists to record, has adhered to Covid-19 protocols and has managed to come up with the eargasms effect in terms of good musical production of different musical genres.
As an artist interested in young people that are able to come up with their own developmental artistic projects in order to earn a living, I have visited Siya P’s backyard studio and also recorded with him.
It’s a simply space at a backyard room, very neat with basic recording equipment, yet it has produced music currently being played on radio stations.
“I am a music producer but I am also a rapper. I am in my mid 20s and am an Information Communication Technology graduate with the Bulawayo Polytechnic College. Besides music production, I also do art and web and graphic designing. I can also edit videos, which I guess comes with the whole package of production,” Siya P said.
“I am an introvert as I don’t talk much, but I believe in actions which have resulted in me taking the role of music production and being behind the decks most of the time.
“My musical passion has been driven by my quest for expression, and this is not only an attempt to impress, but I emphasise on quality. I am driven by the art of sound; I interpret sound and turn noise into musical expression.”
He said musical passion was like love — a phenomenon that is hard to explain but is irresistible and is addictive.
Being a music producer who is always behind the scenes, Siya P is not known compared to the artists that he has produced, and some of them have become celebrities.
“The producer produces and the artist is at the forefront. The whole game is confusing as it is the producer who curates and creates the sound.
“Other artists can come into the studio already with their beats and ideas, and in that case my role is not production, but to mix and master the sound.
“To me art is not necessarily about fame, but it must leave an impact. I have my list of clientele, and as a producer I often have less time to myself.”
He said his art was unique, adding that music and art have no limit.
“Everyone has a right to think out of the box and this is what I do as an artist. Every producer has to have the secret ingredient which is the mark of their distinct sound, which produces the eargasms effect,” he said.
Siya P feels that being in the arts in Zimbabwe is tough as many artists have not really made a fortune like artists in other countries.
“Many people come to the studio because they think music can be viable and open doors to their success,” he said.
“In the year 2021 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, I recorded several young artists on a pro bono basis.
“Most of them wanted free sessions, and I had to draft a code of strict conduct for them. It eventually paid off as I ended up gaining more clients and a bit of noticeable profit.
“Zimbabwe is a difficult country and people survive from hand to mouth.
“There is a need to support young artistic talent and young producers who want to go into entrepreneurship.
“Art can bring food on the table, but there is a need for support in order to be able to purchase modern recording equipment and to grow the business.”
Siya P added: “By the way, the name of my recording studio is ‘Studio 1106’, which is my home address in Nketa 6 suburb.”
“I seek to promote the young and unheard of artists. Despite working from the backyard, we have created an online distribution platform and are creating an application to facilitate musical distribution – a challenge that many local artists are facing.
“This app will ensure distribution of music and also enable artists to have direct interaction with their audiences where they can give updates on events and gigs.”
Siya P said he has a vision to go beyond Africa and to produce exportable music that can attract international audiences.
“I prefer to record artists with good messages such as anti-drug abuse as it also affects several young artists,” he said.
He said while some of the artists he has worked with come and go, one of the artists that he has worked with is Majoer Prodi who is set to do a live launch of his Wena WeNsundu album in April.
“Other artists I have worked with include Dark Knight, Trey, LTCP, HC, and I should give mention to Arson Bera, also known as Ascora, who has partnered with me several times,” Siya P said.
“I have also worked with unknown underground artists as they venture into the music sector.”
- Raymond Millagre Langa is a musician, orator, writer, and the founder of Indebo Edutainment Trust. Follow Raymond Millagre Langa on Facebook, Instagram @Millagre Ray L, or email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org