Shortly before his debut album, Fire, was released, Majozi spoke to Helen Herimbi about his burning passions.

Nhlanhla Majozi settles into the couch inside Universal Music’s small listening room. The 28-year-old indie-folk artist, who is simply known as Majozi, has just released his debut album, Fire. And he is in good spirits.

As I whip out my notepad, I ask him if people ever assume he got his stage name from the Generations character. The singer-songwriter laughs out loud and says: “I’m so glad you know that character! People say ‘Majozi’ can’t be your real name and I’m like: ‘Don’t you know Glen Majozi?’”

The important thing now though, is that people are getting to know him. The Durban-bred musician taught himself how to play the guitar at the age of 13. He then studied jazz and popular music at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. In 2013, he started to shine with the Marvelous Light EP. But it wasn’t until he released Someday – which rose to popularity when he toured with The Lumineers – and relocated to Cape Town that the name became a mainstay on music festival line-ups.

He included that song on his Mountains EP, which was released last year. I ask him about this period and naming his EP that.

“People kept calling my music ‘beautiful’, but sometimes you just want to be like…” He pauses to flex his muscles and then says: “And say your music is ‘powerful’. We were just thinking of cool titles and kept that one because everyone has mountains to overcome.”

Majozi is deep, but he’s also really funny. He quietly strikes a balance between being a young person in a scene that prizes material things and being someone who is entrenched in his faith. During that comical flex, when even he laughs at the absurdity of perceived masculinity in the music industry, I notice an “I ¤ MA” tattoo on his arm.

Majozi then takes me through a few more pieces of ink on his body. There’s a mountain and Winnie the Pooh and “JESUS” in capital letters. All of these are super-personal to Majozi, but his self-expression doesn’t end on his limbs. It infiltrates his lyrics.

On the debut album’s opening track, The Lighthouse, Majozi sings: You are a lighthouse that shines on the sea/You came down from heaven and rescued me. On Our Last Goodbye, you’ll find the line: When heaven’s gates are open, I will call your name. Even The Greatest Love, which is the newest single, carries what is seemingly a Christian thread.

“If you are passionate about something, it just comes out,” he explains. “It’s not like because this is my faith, I won’t include it in my music. I try hard to let people know about it. The Greatest Love is also about God. I wrote it ages ago and it could’ve been on the previous EP, but it wasn’t refined enough. I also like it because I can get people to sing along to it. It’s special to get people to unite like that. You can generally make people happy – or sad – if you want to. In that way, music can control things.”

His faith also translates to naming the album. Although the title track was written by Eugene Coetzer from Monark, Majozi says: “It’s about the fire in your heart that you share for God. I’m not an arsonist so it’s not a fire that ravages and destroys.”

Then he pauses, smiles mischievously and adds: “Plus, Fire is a nice, short, manly name, like Mountains.”

The 12-track album features some songs that have already done the rounds of commercial and regional radio. Here, Darling has an original and a live version. The latter features Paige Mac and was performed for the SA Artist Spotlight web series and Majozi played the ukulele while Mac used the acoustic guitar.

“I loved the way she played the chords,” he smiles. “Her voice gels really well with mine and I love a female singing with me. I don’t know why I don’t do it more often,” he says.

Other features include a song called Mzali Wam with singer Bafikile and rapper Solo, who collaborated with Majozi for the Coke Studio TV show.

“The whole album was already finished,” Majozi tells me, “and Mzali Wam doesn’t fit the mould of what I was writing, but I think it’s cool for people to hear a different sound from me.”

The Woods, featuring Tresor, is another highlight on the album. Majozi breaks into an impromptu chorus from the song, almost getting carried away. Then he offers: “It’s all about taking your lady out and being the hero for your lady. I love Tresor, we’ve been friends for a while. He sent me this song on Whatsapp and said I could have it, but I thought it would be a cool collaboration.”

Although today he’s sporting a Liefde Wen cap from Bouwer Bosch’s (of the group Straatligkinders) charity, I tease him about his and Tresor’s love for the wide-brimmed hat. “You know how hard it is to get on the plane with that hat on?” he laughs and then jokes: “But it looks good on me. I’m going to tell Tresor to change his style!”

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