• Denholm Hewlett

[Music/Culture] Moonchild Sanelly

Introducing South Africa's enigmatic queen of Gqom. A truly extraordinary rising talent with an empowering, dynamic and highly original genre-blending Xhosa sound. We are proud to welcome one of Africa's most unique musicians to the Psychic Garden.

Moonchild (2018) - Photo by Denholm Hewlett

It's no understatement or exaggeration to state that Moonchild Sanelly is one of the most important and innovative African artists working in the music industry today. Moonchild is a self-made living icon whose creative capabilities are unparalleled. She is a multi-talented musician, singer-songwriter, dancer, live performer, fashion designer, mvideo director and uncompromising entrepreneur who is making serious waves on the cultural radar. Nobody looks or sounds like this remarkable, electrifying woman.

Moonchild (2019) - Photo by D.H.

Already a beloved artist on her home turf of South Africa, Moonchild Sanelly is the self appointed "advocate for the female orgasm" who is taking the world by storm with her dazzlingly sensual and hypnotic musical creations. Moonchild's experimental fusions of dynamic sounds and styles encompass a hybrid of almost every genre imaginable, her self-created and self-named genre ‘future ghetto funk’ stems from her background in soul, jazz and kwaito music. The singer is gaining recognition for her undeniable star quality, artistic versatility and refreshingly unorthodox audiovisual style, while receiving praise for her unreal energy on stage & in the studio.

Dark Side of the Moon (2019) - Photo by D.H.

Originally born in Port Elizabeth, the singer first came into limelight in the Durban poetry and music scene before relocating to Johannesburg, where she continued to pursue her musical career and her ventures in the fashion design world. Moonchild's ever-evolving creative journey has seen her unique musical style expanding into the realms of electro funk, synth pop, durban house, gospel, afro-punk, hip-hop and film soundtracks. Moonchild has gradually become one of Africa's most sought after artists for internationally producers to collaborate with. Aside from her striking musical abilities, Moonchild is renown for her unique self-made style, instantly recognised for her iconic blue "moon-mop" hair style and her futuristic fashion that she designs as the director of Moonchild Cultwear.

Moonchild Sanelly (2018) - Photo by D.H.

Moonchild Sanelly released her award winning debut album, Rabulapha! back in 2015, which was then re-released on Trangressive records, a UK based music label who recently signed the talented singer earlier this year and have been consolidating and re-releasing gems from her catalogue. The singer's career has seen a meteoric rise since being signed to Band of Wolves (a new all female music mgmt company).

Moonchild Sanelly has just released her latest EP Nudes, following a string of new singles, music videos and international collaborations. The new EP includes the fantastic Newtown Chips, a playful warning about the dangers of revealing personal photos and secrets online. "Thunda Thighs" is an empowering female anthem packed with Moonchild's quintessential infectious energy, whereas "Bashiri" is an bold electro-gospel groove and is perhaps the most idiosyncratic example of the singer's unique musical style yet, combining the pulsating rhythms of Gqom and Gospel with a buzzing electronic rave soundscape melting beneath her hypnotising vocals.

Watch the new music videos for Bashiri and Newtown Chips! ~

Moonchild's career has seen her undertake a relentless mission of musical world domination, one of her most recent creative ventures of the last few years saw her work with Africa Express on their album EGOLI, which saw her collaborate with artists like Otim Alpha, Damon Albarn, Ghetts, Mr Jukes, Sibot, Muzi, Infamous Boiz, Blue May and Georgia.

I was fortunate enough to meet and work alongside Moonchild Sanelly in the electronic music epicentre of the world, Johannesburg, South Africa, during a seven day musical workshop held by Africa Express in early 2018. This rich multi-cultural residency hosted over thirty amazing musicians, singers and producers from Africa and the West. The goal was to record an album together in seven days & perform a secret live show on the last night.

Moonchild Sanelly (2018) - Photo by D.H.

Everything changed when Moonchild arrived on the scene that week, she radiated this undeniably cool and fearless energy, we were all immediately enchanted by her soulful, vibrant and mysterious presence. She wasted no time and swept through every single studio room and collaborated with almost all the resident musicians who were involved with the project.

Otim Alpha & Moonchild Sanelly in Johannesburg (2018) - Photo by Denholm Hewlett

After several days in her company, I realised Moonchild's creativity had no limits, she was on fire and completely in her element. Her fierce creative energy and imagination make her a undeniably magnetic and endearing artist. It was captivating to witness Moonchild's lightning fast writing and recording skills in action, she composes entire songs in her head within a few minutes of hearing an instrumental and was always coming up with fresh ideas to transform and elevate the music to another level.

Moonchild Sanelly (2018) - Photo by D.H.

Within the first hours of her arrival, Moonchild recorded vocals for three stunning tracks in quick succession and continued in this rapid fashion until she ended up featuring on almost half the songs on the EGOLI album. The 'Queen of Gqom' completely capitalised on this rare opportunity and tore through the musical residency in Johannesburg like a blue tornado. One of the photos I captured of Moonchild ended up being used as the central image for the Africa Express album artwork. The full EGOLI album was released a year later in July 2019 to massive critical acclaim.

Moonchild Sanelly (2018) - Photo by D.H.

Please take a moment to listen to "Morals", this was the song that first introduced me to Moonchild Sanelly's soulful sound ~

As you can see and hear from her plethora of music and visuals, Moonchild Sanelly is an immensely diverse and adaptable artist with a profound talent for experimentation and collaboration, she effortlessly inhabit any genre she pleases and prides herself on her on-going indefinability. She writes songs with rapid speed and meticulous attention to detail.

Moonchild Sanelly (2018) - Photo by D.H.

Moonchild is inventive, undiluted, hilarious and always pushing boundaries within music and culture, with an empowering stance on celebrating female sexuality and the power of self-realised artistic liberation for young African women. Since her debut album in 2015, Moonchild's career has only continued to thrive, resulting in a huge outpour of new music and visuals, with her idiosyncratic Gqom style spreading further across the globe. As she once told me, "Every time I hear something, I just want to write!".

Moonchild Sanelly / Screen-Print by Alex Messer

During that incredible week in Johannesburg, Moonchild contributed her stunning and versatile voice on tracks like Morals, Where Will This Lead Us Too?, Nayena, Sizi Freaks and No Games. Check out the infectious disco ballad I CANT MOVE, with Moonchild and Damon Albarn of Gorillaz, paired with the all-star punk-rock posse cut anthem XHOSA, featuring Moonchild, Albarn, Otim Alpha, Georgia, BCUC & Nick Zinner.

Moonchild Sanelly's latest solo EP Nudes is set to position her as one of the year's greatest breakout artists, with her electrifying music and unique style ready to take on a global audience. Fearless, inclusive and a lot of fun, Moonchild is only just getting started. Her iconic personal style combined with an outspoken approach to female sexual empowerment with her audiovisual art has earned her collaborations with Gorillaz, Beyoncé, Diplo and Die Antwoord. She's a global superstar waiting to happen...

We will be bringing you more from our new resident creative in the future. Stay tuned and check out her new music below. ~

~ Psychic Garden