Good Voodoo Music South Africa – Songwriting Can U Feel It

Here is another peak into the creative process of Music-Making in South Africa. I am playing the piano and singing with Katie Oswell, Veronique Hamse and Nosisi Mavela, We were working on a song called Can U Feel it at the theatre in Graaff-Reinet, South Africa. Its mainly the face of Katie in the video.

Thanks to Mark Lloyd and the Swallows Partnership.

Dominic Nelson-Ashley

Good Voodoo Music

Good Voodoo Music South Africa – Learning to speak Xhosa

Whilst in South Africa I was blessed with spending time with African Traditional Healer and artist, Zamuxolo Mgoduka and discussing various subjects including the journey to manhood, politics and traditional healing techniques. In this video, he takes me on a guided tour of Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Along the way he teaches some of the essentials of the Xhosa language.

There are 11 official languages in South Africa and most people speak at least 5.

A big thankyou to Mark Lloyd and the Swallows Partnership for making it all possible.

Dominic Nelson-Ashley

Good Voodoo Music

Good Voodoo Music South Africa – Working with New Talent

Whilst in South Africa I worked with an exciting up and coming South African house music producer called Fingerman on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa. This is a video was filmed by Zamuxolo Mgoduka. No serious injury occurred during the dancing in this video. Its very rare that I actually film the creative process of putting a track together because I am normally the one filming but Zam was good enough to take on the documentary duties and to capture the craziness and exhubberance that I bring to every creative session.

Dominic Nelson-Ashley

Good Voodoo Music

Good Voodoo Music South Africa – An Overview

Its now 2 weeks since I got back from South Africa and I am only just beginning to feel like I have my feet back on the ground after one of the most creative and inspiring three weeks of my life. My routine of waking up, writing a song then having access to brilliant singers and performers from the North East of England and South Africa to work with on the fresh material, all in the stunning setting of GraaffReinet – and that’s before breakfast had finished. Then there were the Yoga sessions at 9am to prepare us mentally and physically for the task of creating a high quality theatrical production in 2 weeks to perform in front of an expectant audience. Full respect to Mark Lloyd and the Swallows Partnership for having the faith in our collective abilities, complimentary art forms and our professionalism to allow us to produce a piece that captured the creative moment perfectly with music, dance, physical theatre, film as well as comedy.

The first week of immersion into the culture and history of South Africa was an essential part of the overall experience. Going to Soweto and Nelson Mandela’s homeland area was an eye opener. Its one thing seeing the images on the TV but a totally different experience being there and talking to South Africans both young and old about the struggles of the country.

To pick one highlight is an impossible task – I am currently looking through a thousand photographs and 500 films that I took to find the best ones to put online – the thing is that I love everyone of them and every shot and every frame brings a golden moment flooding back:

Katie Oswell (U.K) and Nosisi Mavel (S.A) doing an impromptu opera duet, Bongi Fumba teaching African Dance, Writing comedy sketches with the poet Ian Horn, People dancing to my compositions, The workshop with the kids at Spandau school, Visiting the home of Steve BikoThe list goes on (and on)

People ask me if the trip was ‘life changing’? And my honest answer is that I don’t know. What I do know is that it has reawakened a level of spontaneity and creativity that I haven’t come close to in 20 years. I am more confident in my abilities because I can deliver the highest quality really quickly when the pressure is on. I am better at what I do as a result of the experience and I am sure the group of fellow international artists who joined me on the journey feel the same about their own creative practice.

So I will be posting videos and photos on on a regular basis, so look, listen, enjoy and get in touch.

Dominic Nelson-Ashley

Good Voodoo Music

The Art of being an Artist by Dominic Nelson-Ashley

As well as looking at motivations, goals and expectations of creative people as part of my Post graduate studies I have been working with singers, remixers, digital artists and a range of other creatives in different stages of their creative careers for my music business Good Voodoo Music

In my opinion,there are three key factors within the control of an artist in acheiving their desired goals: raw talent, honing that talent and the personal qualities of the arist. Have they got a professional attitude? Are they driven? Do they surround themselves with positive people to help support their artistry? Does the artist abuse their talent or let it go to waste?

It could be argued that the qualities of the person are more important than the raw talent. Everybody is creative to some degree and everybody is talented at something. I always quote the example of Amy Winehouse. She had the raw talent, there was a development in her talent  but did she have a professional atitude? Did she surround herself with positive minded people? Did she abuse her body? If she had lived her voice would ultimately have suffered due to her lifestyle. One only has to compare Whitney Houston’s current vocal ability to her earlier vocal prowess as an indicator as to the probable decline of Amy had she lived.

I have woirked with potentially great artists who didnt want a career in the music industry badly enough to put in the hard yards and those who were less talented but had the determination to do what had to be done.

So what advice would I give to any person who is serious about their creative endeavours?

Walk like you are the embodiement of your art form – live it, breathe it.Constantly develop your abilities on a structered basis – trying it in an adhoc way leaves too many things to chance especially with the busy lives that many of us lead. Be nice and have a professional attitude with your dealings with others (even if there is no money to be made) because you never know where your big break is going to come from. And perhaps most importantly, have a goal (or set of goals) you want to achieve and you may find that all the other things fall into place naturally.

Dominic Nelson-Ashley