Talented Elaine: The SA music industry is lousy with talent and tales of promising young artists desperate for a lick of the limelight and fame that consumes them to the point of desperation.
It is this fire that has birthed many talents but it is with the same flame that Pretoria native, Ndivhuwo Mukheli burns a powerful and unobtrusive candle in the dark.
Known under the moniker of her second name, Elaine, the 21-year-old law student has carefully curated a career shy of the notoriety she deserves following her impassioned R&B EP (extended play), Elements.
Something she has always been intentional about. However, with an ever growing loyal fan base that has seen Elements hit platinum status and currently wears the crown of being Spotify’s most streamed SA artist, it was only a matter of time before the nation would be singing her praises when she scored the deal of a lifetime with Columbia Records.
The American record label houses artists including Grammy and Oscar award winning stars including Adele, Beyoncé and John Legend. (Talented Elaine)
The cinematic music video for Risky is directed by Nape Phasha who also took the reins for rapper Boity’s glossy Ba Kae music video. Much like the songs morose air owing to a cantankerous relationship, the video sees Elaine face a cheating spouse and a one way ticket to prison.
“It’s been crazy. We did a whole production during the pandemic and there was a lot of learning about taking care of everyone during the filming. At the end of the day, I am responsible for everybody’s safety. So I had to make sure everyone is taking the necessary protocols, sanitising their hands and social distancing while still looking the part and not looking scared of contracting this disease,” she says.
The lockdown has also allowed Elaine time to work on allowing her audience to experience her music in a visual sense. While the young star prides herself in working with a number of SA creatives, she has also partnered with Red Bull to fulfil her original plans of offering live performances for 2020 through Elaine’s House Party.
“It’s a very different version from the EP itself; it’s very intimate, it’s very warm and it’s very personal as well,” says Elaine, who is set to play an unplugged performance with her band. (Talented Elaine)
“Red Bull embodies everything that I am; it’s for the culture, it’s supportive and that’s exactly what I wanted to embody with this performance. SA has showed me so much support and love so I wanted a brand that has done the same with my brand,” she says.
While she might crack a joke or two about the performance, Elaine explains that this is a much needed exploration of Elements having worked for months on the set and the fashion, an avenue she is trying to explore more in her journey to not just honing her craft but understanding who she is as a woman.
“Being unapologetic about who or what I am has brought a sense of freedom. Even my music is a reflection of who I am which is passionate, honest and a hopeless romantic.”
Elaine’s comfort-centric and street style inspired fashion is carefully crafted in the same vein of many young female artists of today who are eschewing from the constricting and often objectified options many female music artists often choose when putting performances together.
However, Elaine has used this time to explore her ideas on fashion and femininity.
“I’m playing around with new textures, dresses and we are having so much fun with wigs and everything. It’s great to explore this side of myself. I’m constantly on a journey of self-discovery. Being able to figure myself out while on the journey of doing something I love is a constant blessing.”
Elaine also notes that there has been heavy scrutiny towards female artists in the music industry. While this should be an archaic point of view, Elaine finds that the root of it lies in the entangled bedrock of comparisons that are made between men and women.
“I think society needs to stop comparing men and women. I think the moment we start comparing, there starts to be a sense of inequality and a lot of women are undermined in this industry.”
Elaine has often been forced to speak out for other women who also often get robbed of opportunities. One particular case was the director of her music video You’re The One, directed by Sharla Martin. When Elaine was coaxed to trade her for more experienced directors, all of whom were men, she swiftly addressed the issue and stood staunch with Martins.
“A lot of people don’t want to see women leading, let alone directing a music video. They want us in the back seat.
“If we could support women and give women these leading roles there would be so much of a difference in the industry.”
The young star will also be working on producing her own songs for her upcoming debut album. Wrapping up Women’s Month, Elaine’s House Party will be available to stream on Red Bull’s official site from August 28 to August 30.
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