Family, the sun and a decent curry is what artist, Qwade Dunn – who is currently conquering the overseas market and living abroad – is most looking forward to when he returns to SA shores this November for a short trip to promote his new single, Girlfriend, which was released to radio earlier this month.
Qwade grew up in a small town in KwaZulu-Natal, called Eshowe. As a teen, the South-African born singer relocated to New Zealand to study. With a passion and desire to make it in the music industry, he self-funded his first music demo and video, which caught the attention of British manager Johnathan (Jay) Jules. After being scouted by Sony Music, Dunn released his debut single, We Are, produced by British producer James Reynolds, in 2012. It featured as song of the week on New Zealand’s ZM Radio, making Dunn the first African artist to achieve that status in Australasia – quite an achievement for a developing act.
In 2013, Dunn returned to South Africa where he continued to pursue music, albeit in a different way. “It was at this point that Jonathan Jules and I founded Jabba, a music company with a difference. It provided a solution for international music companies seeking to establish a footprint in Africa, one of the world’s fastest growing economies. We not only wanted to bring products into Africa for African music lovers, but also wanted to create a vehicle for exporting African music beyond borders.”
While the business became his primary focus, Dunn continued to release music ad hoc from late 2015 to 2017. “During this time, I did a radio/television tour of east Africa; it just so happened that our company was label partners to an Idols-type show in Zambia. I loved touring east Africa because the people were so warm and the vibe I got was incredible. It made me fall in love with our content all over again.”
Dunn was also invited to be a campaign ambassador with UNICEF in Africa in 2015, campaigning against child marriages. “I was a UNICEF guest speaker at the All Women Summit in Uganda. It was a very special occasion and made me realise that we should be investing our energy in our fellow Africans.”
“I have been back and forth for the past two years between London, Berlin and South Africa and I love that music gets to bring me back home,” says Qwade.
The new single has already started playing on the airwaves around the country. With its playful interpretation of lust, the track – written by Dunn, Jazz Purple and ManCub (who recently collaborated with Ray J and Rich the Kid) – is a feel-good pop song that fuses Dunn’s signature South African sound with international flair. As temperatures rise, the talented Qwade Dunn is making a strong case for ‘song of the summer’. While Dunn often writes his own material, he is an advocate for the power of collaboration.
“I’m all for collaborating with songwriters and producers,” he says. “I think too many artists make the mistake of keeping things too close to their chest, when really, the magic comes from having several people with different perspectives working towards the same goal.”
In terms of his musical career this ambitious artist – who describes himself as 90% business – believes that he has hardly scratched the surface of what can be achieved. “You’ve got to set unobtainable goals and keep working” – wise words from a kid who started out as a DJ at school events and now not only runs his own successful company, but who also writes and produces his own music. With plans that include conquering Africa one country at a time – both as an artist and an entrepreneur – it is clear that Qwade Dunn means business.
Image Courtesy: Supplied