“I thought I was just hungover and ignored the fact that I felt sick for a while,” Mx Blouse is telling me over the phone. I’m gobsmacked. They are giggling. “I was so sick. I got rained on on New Year’s Eve, at Afropunk. Then it escalated and they couldn’t figure out if I had pneumonia or TB,” they giggle again. “I’m fine now.”
In January, the indie artist was bedridden, laptop tucked into the sheets too, sending out press releases and info on their latest single, No Match. “I had to promote No Match from my bed while I was still recovering,” they tell me. “Luckily, I had my strategy in place by the end of last year so it wasn’t like I was scrambling. I was sitting in bed with my laptop and was just pressing send on emails.”
The song, produced by frequent collaborator, Thor Rixon, is a bop about being frustrated by a relationship and waiting for the other person to call it quits. Initially, Mx Blouse wrote it about a specific relationship but following some introspection, they realised the sentiments applied to all kinds of relationships.
In the beginning of No Match, the artist who was born Sandiso Ngubane repeats: “Ngcono ngivele ngiphume” but doesn’t quit convince the listener that they really want to bounce. Mx Blouse shares: “Eventually, when I did write the song, it stopped becoming about that one relationship. It became a lot more about other relationships where I’ve felt like it was over but for some reason, I wasn’t ending it.”
“Sometimes you’re scared to tell a friend: ‘listen, uyabheda mgan’wam.’ You keep tolerating their bullshit. I think we all go through that. If you listen, throughout the song, that confusion keeps coming up, again and again. Like, ag, I hate you but I’m still here. That’s what I was trying to reflect in those adlibs at the beginning of the song.”
As hard as it might be to leave, there are dealbreakers that can hasten the decision. I ask Mx Blouse what theirs are. “Eish, amanga, jo,” they exclaim. “That’s one thing I cannot do. Even the tiniest lie makes my blood boil. I’ve got this theory that no matter how much the truth hurts, I’d rather deal with it now and get it over and done with. If I find out weeks later that you lied to me, it really pisses me off. Besides lies, I don’t like calling people stupid but another deal breaker is, on a very surface level, I just can’t do umuntu o dom.”
As Mx Blouse laughs mischievously at their statement, I am reminded of a line they say on No Match: “I don’t like your mind/Angazi ngizoy’ shintsha ganjani.” They laugh hysterically when I mention this.
Then, finally, they say: “yesssss! I don’t like the way they think! Tjoooo, I’m getting deeper into this relationship through this interview. I hope they don’t read this and realise I’m talking about them,” they laugh again.
“That line was more about the disagreements we used to have about race relations. I was like: this person and their white saviour complex, I hate it so much! That was one of things that started to build up before we finally broke up.”
A relationship that seems to be thriving is between Mx Blouse and the music. After swapping boombap for kwaito and following the release of their popular Isphukuphuku song, Mx Blouse has been intent on performing their new sound. At last year’s Oppikoppi, they treated a crowd to the cool Papgeld but didn’t release the song for streaming.
“I love Papgeld so much and am so attached to it,” they admit. “Every time I think of a video for it, it’s just this expensive content and it’s like: ‘oh my god, I’m never going to be able to shoot this video.’”
“So I’ve just been postponing the release of the song and I finally decided to make it the lead single of my EP. And since I’m not ready to put out an EP yet, I’m just going to put it off until a time when I am ready. I do perform it sometimes and the reaction is always the same: people love that track! I don’t know if it’s the beat or the truth telling in the song. I’m happy there’s that anticipation that’s been building!”