While many upcoming Zimbabwean artist remain caught up in the big record company log jam, pursuing elusive record deals, the UK-based Jusa Dementor is harnessing the full power of the internet to market and sell his music.
Jusa, born Tawanda Sibotshiwe, won the Best Artist: Southern Africa award at last year’s African Music Awards in London and earned a KORA nomination. He was also named Econet's brand ambassador after the mobile phone company launched a UK network [DETAILS]. On February 11 and 12, Jusa will be a backing artist on Oliver Mtukudzi and Liquideep's United Kingdom tour in Leicester and London.
This is The Truth About: Jusa Dementor
Name: Tawanda Sibotshiwe
Born: June 3, 1983
Marital Status: Single
Your stage name sounds a little exotic. What does Jusa Dementor mean?
Jusa comes from the word producer. It’s a nickname I was given by friends because I was always making music. Dementor comes from the word mentor, because I have been working with and encouraging a lot of young artists back in Zimbabwe and here in the UK. So that was the second nickname imposed on me and they were joined together to come up with Jusa Dementor.
How would you describe your kind of music?
I call it mangoma. I’m actually working on a DVD with Zimbabwean artists at home and in the UK on which we give our music its correct identity. Mangoma is the nickname they use at home for dancehall, but I think what we are doing is slightly different.
When can we expect an album from you?
I’m thinking of releasing a DVD album, just the video without audio. I feel audio nowadays has lost its value. I was reading somewhere that the life expectancy of an audio is only one play. Those who purchase it only listen to it once, but a video you can play it many more times and even share it with friends. There is certainly a longer life to music with visuals accompanying it.
I can add that these days, it’s just not enough to have video. Now people want to follow your everyday life which is why millions of people follow their favourite singers on Twitter and Facebook. I have started a video blog to continue that interaction with fans.
But you have several music videos on YouTube. Has it not crossed your mind you could put it together to make a CD?
I have over 120 songs that I’m just keeping and stocking up. I’m doing a marketing and broadcast media degree at university and I realised it would be a waste if I just brought it out as audio. I saved money to buy my own video equipment which I now have. I will go to the archives and start bringing back the songs I did, remaster them and start making videos.
It is through video that Nigerian artists have made a breakthrough. Nigerians have one thing going for them: their population. Imagine if for every hundred new borns there is an artist and a producer. Their population is 149 million so it should not come as a surprise that they are breaking through and going international.
Unfortunately, our Zimbabwean artists – as few as they are – they are not churning out videos to accompany their audio. I want to make a lot of videos of myself and other artists to put our material out there because that's the only way we can compete and drive ourselves forward.
You have had a few collaborations with some famous artists. Who are you working with next?
Of course I collaborated with Red Rat last year and recently recorded another song with a dancehall artist called Hawk Eye. I’m also working with a lot of Nigerian artists including Tuface who likes one of my songs and keen for us to rework it together.
I’m meeting up with Winky D and Jonah Sithole in Malaysia in March where we are all nominated for awards. I hope to record something while down there.
What’s your favourite music instrument?
Mbira. It’s a spiritual instrument. I do a lot of digital stuff but I love the mbira although I’m not really good at playing it. My official logo has mbira -- it’s an instrument original to Zimbabwe.
How much song writing do you do?
I write pretty much all my songs. Out of all my songs maybe four or five have been written for me. My lyrics are driven by what I experienced in life.
Which schools did you go to and what’s your abiding memory of your school days?
My primary education was divided between Gateway Primary School in Harare and Dudley Hall in Norton. For secondary, I attended Kutama College and came through without much drama.
I was a dorm prefect and was REALLY good at football. I played for our school team when I was in Form 2 and went on to play for the CAPS United’s Under 17s. I was a right winger and could have gone far but I have really bad eyesight
How hard has it been as an unsigned artist to gain recognition?
It’s been really hard but at the same time I do think it was a blessing in disguise. Had I been signed, I wouldn’t have experienced the life lessons that I have gained, or learnt how artists can make moves for themselves without relying on big labels.
It has taught me that there are ways to do these things from your bedroom without big labels bankrolling you. Now I get emails on a daily basis from youngsters in Zimbabwe asking what they can do to project themselves, and I find myself advising them how to go forward.
JUSA DEMENTOR: AIR HORN DANCE
What was your worst job ever?
I worked for a company in Derby packing pre-made meals for ASDA and Tesco. There were mostly Asian workers there and discrimination was commonplace. I was always assigned the worst tasks like working in the cold-rooms which are of course very cold. I’ve really bad memories about that time and I wrote a couple of songs about the experience.
If you were to be 18 again, what would you do differently?
I would have believed in myself a lot more and not let people discourage me. To get to where I am now, it’s been me trusting people with my career, trusting other people to do things for me. I certainly would have put a lot more effort and got to where I am now a lot quicker. If I can give advice to others, I would tell them not to repeat my mistakes.
Who is your inspiration and why?
It’s difficult to give one name because the entertainment industry is like an eco-system. I draw so much inspiration from many people and their work. I would say to get me started, I drew a lot of inspiration from Delani Makhalima who was a pioneer in what came to be known as urban grooves.
In those days, people in Zimbabwe would generally scrutinise and spit out anything with western influences but he wasn’t afraid, he stuck at it. He found DJs who would play the music and journalists who would write positive things about his music. Not only that, he produced music for dozens of youngsters for free. It was him who taught me about computers and basic music production.
What do you know for sure about life?
That it’s not straightforward and there are no guarantees, but we should always hope things will work out.
What would you change about your appearance?
Nothing, although I’m going to the gym now just to maintain (chuckles).
What’s your favourite movie?
Schindler's List. It’s an intelligently-told and powerful story.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
I have had many, but one I can’t forget is an incident at high school. There were strikes then as the Form 4s demanded better food and the headmaster was generally angry ... I mean all the time.
So when a teacher missed a lecture, I climbed on top of a desk shouting all manner of slogans and generally trying to impress the class by getting wild. Gradually, the voices around me died down and suddenly it felt all quiet. A few people pointed towards the door but I thought they were playing games and kept on with my wild show.
When I got no cheers for this new injection of insanity, I suddenly turned round to come face to face with the headmaster. I was sent to get my father and was punished for two weeks without attending lessons.
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
I haven’t been there yet but I really want to go to Tanzania. I was on the net and came across some really nice beaches.
What are you most afraid of?
Failure. That fear is becoming something of a weakness because I end up over-planning certain things.
Do you believe in UFOs?
Yes, but I don't obsess like others.
What makes you happy?
When I make other people happy.
What’s your favourite gadget?
My Cannon D550 camera. It’s great because it can take still photographs as well as shoot videos in 3D. I believe it was used in Iron Man 2 and also 24. It’s a great piece of technology.
Which song holds special memories for you?
Party in Session, a collaboration between Buju Banton, Beenie Man and TOK. It takes me back to when I was about 15-years-old and I didn’t care much about anything. Life seemed to be just a big party.
Collaboration ... Jusa Dementor with Nigerian star Tuface
What was the last book you read?
I hate reading, I like watching.
What’s your definition of hell?
A place where there is no love, and that makes pretty much most of this earth.
If you were to be invisible for a day, what would you do?
I would go to all the forbidden areas. I would go into the Chinhoyi caves and see what has eaten everyone who went in there, check what’s under the Matopo Hills and also spend hours in Area 51 seeing what goes on there [Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base located in the southern portion of Nevada. The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore].
What is your most valuable possession, sentimentally?
I lost it. It was a chain given to me by someone special and it was snatched by a drunk at an Oliver Mtukudzi concert last year.
What’s the scariest thing you have ever done?
When I was quite young I went to my rural home by myself from Harare. I should have been 10. I went to Chegutu, then Sanyati by bus. Unfortunately the bus stop had been moved a little further than the one I knew and by the time I got off the bus, it was pitch black outside and I didn’t know which way to go. As I trudged along a narrow path in a direction I thought was home, I came across a man and bravely asked for directions. “It’s three trees that way,” he said. It was the best feeling ever.
If one singer was to perform at your party, who would get the call?
Beenie Man. He’s a great performer and an all-round entertainer. I learnt a lot of my stage work by watching him.
If you could ban one thing in the world, what would that be?
Is there someone you would like to meet before you die?
That would be the historian, Aeneas Chigwedere. I have a lot of questions about our history, especially around Great Zimbabwe.
What’s your idea of a sexy woman?
Slim built 'Coca-Cola bottle', someone who can drive and direct my dreams and aspirations. The second part is very important. I want a woman with focus, a lioness.
What’s your favourite colour?
How do you deal with anger, and what gets you upset?
I’m very good at managing anger. I channel it into positive things. I constantly get people giving me their unkind opinions on social networks, and if it affects me, I just work harder and convert it into something positive. Most of my best songs were written when I was under pressure or was not happy with something.
JUSA DEMENTOR: I COME FROM
KYRIAH DEE: TURN AROUND [SHOT, DIRECTED BY JUSA]