The Portfolio: Malcolm Nhleko

My clients, although slightly different from a production and engineering point of view, range from isicathamiya to maskandi and mbaqanga. But I also deal with hip-hop, R&B, soul and jazz. I started as a musician a long time ago and that’s how my passion for producing emerged. It developed to working behind the scenes, which is how I caught the engineering bug. 

In the ’90s, I was a bassist and a guitarist and I was already travelling the world playing music with Sharon Katz, who had a group called The Peace Train. I had already had my own groups at the time and had had that dose of what it is like to be an artist. But every time I saw a mixing desk, I was intrigued by the VU meters and faders. 

I decided to study sound engineering because I was already producing hip-hop, R&B and soul artists from a small bedroom studio in an outbuilding in Durban. Starting that small, I now own two fully fledged studios and have built studios for other sophisticated names like your Professors and your Tiras

It is wonderful that I was able to become a sound engineer who understands the musician in me — and, on the other hand, I was able to wear this hat of the producer who understood what sound I wanted to produce. 

The people involved in every sound I produce have won awards. That shows that when you have a vision and you have time and you spend that time making the vision a reality, you can basically conquer the world. 

I spent so much time engineering in my own bedroom while I was studying that I started to understand how studio engineering works. On the other hand, I had this passion to perform with the performers from behind the mixing desk. 

That took off to great heights. We travel the world and people come up to me and say, “Wow, how did you get that sound because I have been coming here forever and I’ve never heard anything in this venue sound like that.” 

When I do it live, I replicate what I’m able to do in the studio in two weeks in real time. It’s two different disciplines, but because of heartaches and suffering I’ve endured, I had to win both ways. 

The secret is being obedient and passionate about sound as a science. I love my ears because this is what pays me money. When we go somewhere where there is loud music, I try not to be there for a long time because my ears might get damaged. 

Even though I might work with loud dance music, I don’t consume it for long periods of time because I am not just a listener. The ears are actually my weapons. 

Malcolm Nhleko owns Maltre Productions; a concert production company, Maltre Studios, which does mixing and engineering; and other music-related companies.

Subscribe to the M&G

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.

Related stories

Abracadabra: The magic of Jay Electronica

The elusive rapper’s recent confounding and reluctant releases are rap as liberation theology

Don’t Miss: Our roundup of this week’s virtual and in-person events

From live music by the Reza Khota Quartet in Gugulethu to J.Bo’s live, online event, there’s plenty of culture to keep you entertained

The Portfolio: Nthikeng Mohlele

A veteran author and part-time festival director, Nthikeng Mohlele can attest to the respective experiences being irreconcilable. Or are they?

Kamogelo Lebotse: The Portfolio

Photographer Kamogelo Lebotse has been documenting the effects of the national lockdown on the people of Mahikeng

Dancing out of the maelstrom: Mo Laudi rejigs ‘Afro Bolero’

The South African DJ and producer worked with Philipe Cohen Solal on ‘Afro Bolero’, a pan-African collaboration

The Portfolio: Jamal Nxedlana

The national lockdown provided photographer Jamal Nxedlana with a chance to push the boundaries of his practice as he transitioned into a new creative cycle

Subscribers only

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

More top stories

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Catholic NGO boss accused of racism and abuse in Sudan

The aid worker allegedly called his security guard a ‘slave’

Agrizzi too ill to be treated at Bara?

The alleged crook’s “health emergency” — if that is what it is — shows up the flaws, either in our health system or in our leadership as a whole

SANDF hid R200m expenditure on ‘Covid’ drug it can’t use

Military health officials are puzzled by the defence department importing a drug that has not been approved for treating coronavirus symptoms from Cuba

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday