The Portfolio: ByLwansta

“People can bite your flow, but not your story.” It sounds way more profound in my head, but I say this a lot in interviews when the question of originality and uniqueness as a musician comes up.

I think it’s the way I say it that makes it sound a little corny. I always have a cheeky grin on my face as the words come out my mouth, like I know this one’s going to have everyone yelling “Preach!”. As if everything else I’m saying is spoken in Arial, and suddenly I switch to Akzidenz Grotesk Bold Extended just for that quote.

Corniness aside though, it’s true —the quote, that is. I’ve subconsciously lived by it for the most part of my career as a musician and consumer of music. My favourite music artists are Bill Withers and Eminem, to name just two. They were storytellers who told their tales vividly with specific details embedded, and therefore were very unique and original musicians.

Descriptive writing, the art of painting word pictures (not typography), coupled with rhyme schemes and/or melodies fascinates me hugely. Many of my favorite songs in this style never needed accompanying music videos, outside of those that would debut in my mind. While not intentional, listening to music that way was always fun.

My multisensory relationship with music would evolve over the years, from creating literal music videos in my mind from the lyrics, to creating relationships between music and a more abstract visual accompaniment, colours.


At that point I’d invested at least two years in my graphic design studies, and I would continuously apply my learnings to how I packaged my music, my stories. When it came time to present these stories-in-songs, colours became an instant point of departure, laying the foundation on which I would build my visual translation of the music — the cover artwork.

I’d become obsessed with cover art for obvious reasons. It’s the perfect meeting ground for music and design.

Studying would eventually become quite tedious during my last year, up until I decided to inject music as a theme into every remaining assignment where we’d be given creative reign with the briefs. I’d go on to write my final year research paper on The Significance of Visual Communication on the Consumption of Music in the Digital Age.

All this, just to enhance the listening experience. I’m still figuring it out.


Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Related stories

Achille Mbembe: The universal right to breathe

‘Modernity has been an interminable war on life. And it is far from over.’ We need to start anew; reclaim the oxygen that belongs to all on Earth

Playlist: The Bill Withers’ Essentials

With a career spanning over four decades, the Mail & Guardian recalls how the late Bill Withers' music infiltrated our collective psyche.

A ghostbusting care package

A multimedia care package of reading material, series, movies and music to indulge in if you're ghosted

Journalism in the era of influencers

The proliferation of sponsored content is streamlining ethics on social media platforms

France passes law taxing digital giants in defiance of US anger

The new law aims at plugging a taxation gap that has seen some internet heavyweights paying next to nothing in countries where they make huge profits.

Prepare for tax in digital economy

Foreign digital services and products have skirted taxation in SA — but that’s all about to change
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

Between dark and light was Maradona

The life of Diego Armando Maradona, who died this week, will always remind us that the smell of shit is as important as the perfume of flowers, writes Niren Tolsi

Public protector’s ‘mistakes’ were made to nail the president, court...

Busisiwe Mkhwebane discarded facts that were inconvenient to her when she investigated the CR17 campaign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers argued

Student funding scheme gets new chief executive and board

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has been under administration for two years after its board was dissolved and its boss resigned not even halfway through his term

General Council of the Bar slams Zuma Foundation

Another summons has been served on Jacob Zuma at his Nkandla residence, requiring the former president to appear before the Zondo Commission next year
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…