Photography by Lou Cathym
Front row with GREEK. | "Volume 3, fashion-influenced visuals, advice to emerging artists"
Welcome back to The FRM Blog.
My next interviewee goes by the name of GREEK. and first captured my attention back in 2020 for a single which they released alongside long-standing collaborator, SimulationRxps, titled 'Crucial'. Needless to say, it was his production sensibilities which first stood out to me; hearing heavy bass 'Trap' production matched with maximalist lyrics in order to create a unique sound which fell into somewhat of an alternative contemporary hip hop category. Not only limited to music but GREEK. also excels within various creative disciplines, including fashion and more.
So, from the wide range of genre's which he opts to sample his beats from, to the plethora of different artists which he chooses to feature on various projects, the one stark consistency with GREEK. is his continued hunger to take risks and push boundaries with his sound. On his most recent EP, 'Volume 3', he enters a different realm of rap – one which is characterised by a mixture of hard-hitting rap melodies overlapped by soft vocals and accompanied by a range of alternative hip hop beats.
When you read it in words, this combination of factors sounds like a massive contradiction but I think that's primarily what GREEK. thrives off the most – making music which always contains a slightly 'non-conventional' tint to it.
Artwork by Shorn Mhlontlo
Simply put, Luvo Mahangu, A.K.A. GREEK. is an artistic dime for the future, and I had the absolute honour of virtually engaging him in order to understand more about Volume 3, his experience of collaborating with fellow local artists, the influence of his fashion career on his music, advice he has for young emerging artists, and more.
Would you mind introducing yourself and including a short description of what you do?
GREEK: My name is GREEK. I’m a musician from Cape Town. I never know how to answer this question cause I do so many things, but in a nutshell I do fly sh*t.
A couple of months ago you dropped your latest EP 'Volume 3' – how has the reception been to the project? Personally, it's my favourite EP of yours thus far!
GREEK: The reception has been great man, especially to the singles. Getting love from different kinds of people, for different kinds of songs, is an amazing feeling.
It’s actually my personal favourite as well. I really think I outdid myself with each song there. Like, every song on it could be one of my best. That’s the energy I’m tryna keep going with my all of my projects going forward.
You are a multi-talented recording artist but many don't know that you're a producer as well – what inspires your signature production style?
GREEK: Listening to different kinds of music. I don’t think I actually have a signature sound though, cause of experimenting so much. My production is really just inspired by whatever I’m listening to at the time. I honestly just try and replicate the feeling of whatever song(s) I’m enjoying at the time, with my own twist to it obviously. Which is why I can go from producing some Trap to producing some alternative music. It’s reflective of whatever’s on my playlist at that particular moment.
VOLUME 3 was characterised by how well you managed to collaborate with a variety of local artists, such as Guy Onke, SimulationRxps and SEI SIREN, to mention a few. How was facilitating these collaborations for your project?
GREEK: Super easy man. Onke and Sim are close friends of mine so it’ll always be easy to get them on board for any song. We already got a million songs together. In fact, our collabs on this tape happened so organically, that I didn’t even reach out to them to jump on the songs they’re featured on. They just jumped on.
With Namakau, that’s a friend of mine as well but honestly we hadn’t worked together enough for me to comfortable enough just hit her up for whatever. I just be overthinking sh*t sometimes lol. But yeah it was so dope how that happened cause she randomly hit me up the one day and I was like “dawg I’ve actually been meaning to hit you up. I need you for this song and we need to record by today.” I’m so lucky she came through cause if she hadn’t, then I would’ve missed my deadline lol.
With SEI on the other hand, it was a bit trickier cause we still haven’t met in person, so I was a bit nervous about reaching out. I think what helped me get the guts to hit her up is that I’d spoken to her prior – for other work. Fortunately she agreed and loved the song enough to jump on it. Really glad she did though, cause the song we did ('I THINK') might be my favourite on the whole EP.
You shot music videos for both 'RHULUMENTE' and 'RIP R MASHESHA' off the project – how was the process of creating these music videos for the EP?
GREEK: F**king stressful dawg I’m not gonna lie lmao. I think I hate shooting music videos man, as dope as the end product can be.
We shot two videos for RHULUMENTE cause we weren’t satisfied with the first one. So the second one we shot is actually the one that’s out now. We almost didn’t even finish shooting the RIP R MASHESHA video because of time constraints and setbacks with getting the things we wanted for the video (there’s actually one or two scenes I wanted to shoot that we didn’t get). But luckily enough, the footage we already had was enough to get the video we have today.
At the end of the day, I’m really proud about how everything panned out, especially cause these were my first two official videos in almost four years; and they are literally two of the best videos to come out the city in recent times. Shoutouts to Ingz, Hlumelo, and Kyle for making them happen.
How do you feel about the progression of your work, from your 1st EP leading up to Volume 3?
GREEK: As much as I believe my music has always been great for its time, I think that there has been a lot of refinement with each project. And a lot of that has to do with restraint: I used to have a maximalist approach in my old music, like I had to go crazy production wise, I had to fit in a million flows, had to do some kind of switch up.
Now I just keep things more simple and only keep what’s necessary for a song. I also sound a lot more confident than ever before now, in both my rapping and my singing – I think that is my favourite thing about my music right now.
I know that you also have prior experience within the fashion space as a designer, as well as other creative endeavours. Does this inform any of the themes within your music?
GREEK: Oh defintely. I mean I still am a designer, that’s my day job lol. I just decided to keep that part of my life out of the public eye for now, until I feel ready to fully dive in for everyone to see. But to answer your question, yes. I think my background in fashion definitely informs how I present myself visually. Like the cover for VOLUME 3 [shot by Luxolo Witvoet] – it looks almost high-fashion. It even got picked up by Photo Vogue. So yeah, fashion definitely informs how I approach the visual presentation of my music.
'Volume 3' EP cover; shot by Luxolo Witvoet
Is there any advice you would like to give to any young emerging artists/ producers attempting to make a name for themselves within the local industry?
GREEK: This is literally advice based on my own career but here it goes:
Don’t second guess yourself, if you think your music’s good enough to be out there then just f*cking release it.
Be in people’s faces. That’s when they’ll have no choice but to hear you out.
Be self-sufficient, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. People will disappoint you, but some people will do all in their power to help you. Just be ready for whatever version of people you’re gonna get.
Don’t be afraid to take steps on your own. The people around you might not be ready to take the journey you wanna take, and that might frustrate you, but some journeys you have to take on your own.
Photography by Abulele Ndenze
What are some of the things you are looking forward to in 2022?
GREEK: The RHULUMENTE Remix, which is coming very soon. It's gonna be crazy.
And also releasing my debut album. It’ll be bigger than me, that’s all I can really say about it for now. I think it’ll be a very important.