What began as conversation sparked by personal interest quickly turned into a session of enlightenment. We at Okmedia sat down with Sipho Ntshangase AKA Ohpis, who is one of the founding members of Motherland X, to gain some insight into what this whole movement is actually about.
It’s particularly interesting what the name is meant to represent, as the meaning of Motherland X gives us a basic understanding as to what this crusade is about. “The motherland bit of the name is meant to represent where we’re from, the X is a representation of the different avenues of the art industry which we are involved in.” Essentially, MLX is a stable which accommodates and collaborates with various creatives in the different spheres of the art industry. Primarily operating in the music industry, MLX is made up of a team of Dj’s and producers, such as VUMA, Rendition, DevineDee and of course Ohpis, to name a few. Remedy, is a young producer from Mbabane who has just recently became part of the MLX ranks alongside DJ Mkay, who has just joined the team as a selector.
MLX began as a way in which artists could support one another’s products, “essentially it began when Vuma came to visit MB and myself in Chicago…” Having been fascinated with what they experienced abroad the MLX originators decided to create a support system which was suitable for them as new artists, “we thought let’s come up with an idea or something, where we could actually support one another and who knows what it might be? That went to a WhatsApp group and we just grew from there.”
It has since then developed into a diverse stable, with each of its members making their own name individually while still being disciplined ambassadors of MLX. From 2015 to date, seemingly the biggest challenge for MLX, has been the geographical separation of the team “when we started Vuma had been in Alabama, I was in Chicago with MB and Rendition was in Pretoria.” Although Ohpis has since returned to Eswatini the team remains geographically separated but stick to their ways in overcoming this hurdle through constant communication, target and goal setting. One would wonder what attracts MLX to artists as they grow? To put it bluntly, creativity breeds more creativity and if an artist is able to inspire some form of creativity, by themselves, there’s a chance MLX might gravitate towards them. As Ohpis says “It has to spark us creatively” and interestingly enough, this is how the relationship between MLX and producer DevinDee began.
Although the group is there to support one another there is still an intense “D.I.Y” philosophy, as in order to garner support, an artist must be able to hold his own in which ever avenue s/he operates in.
MLX is also about authenticity over notoriety, “we vibe off good vibes,” as to truly express yourself you have to be genuine. This simple way of operation has enabled MLX to collaborate with other creatives which are cut from the same cloth. Such collaborators are, The Antidotes music, Semitone Records, Smiley Vids, Will Brown photography, Dipopaai Studios, Una Rams, Cozy Group, Hanwah Johnson and Nusoulhub Radio. “A lot of what we do rests on collaboration, within ourselves and across the artistic sphere.” Notably, Sunbeams (Prod. By Vuma & Brainz from the Antidotes) is one of the many collaborative efforts which truly embody what the collective is about. Check it out in the link below:
Well known for their remix series, where each producer in the team takes an artists’ song and they each put their own spin on it, our personal favourite being the “Hennessey Remixes (Tshego)”. These have enabled listeners and fans everywhere to understand each producers sonic interpretation of the song, and to say the least, they slap. These remix packs can be accessed on SoundCloud and on the MLX website. Most recently, MLX Producer Rendition just released an EP titled “Music for film” which is inspired by an animation series that he has been working on for the past several months. The producer was also quoted saying that “I tried to create what we represent at Motherland X and what I’ve learned through composing music for film.”
While being one of the few MLX members in Eswatini, the others being Remedy and Dj Mkay, Ohpis has been doing the circuit at some of the country’s most prominent events. Playing sets at events such as the Tendamix night at Solanis as well as the Superhero’s and Villains event at House on Fire. Most recently, the well versed Dj has been hosting the #3minutephotochallenge with Will Brown and Smiley Vids, which features photographers such as Mbulelo Ndlovu and Shuan Desousa thus embodying the collaborative aspect of MLX. Artizens Za’s second Creative Union will be hosted on the 30th of March and will feature Ohpis alongside Rendition and Hanwah who will be representing MLX as well as showcasing their talent.
It is noteworthy to acknowledge how such a stable breeds comradery between artists. When creatives tend to support one another, the product is generally of the highest quality. In an African, mostly Swazi, industry there has to be a shift from creatives constantly trying to outdo one another, to one full of support for “dope” releases and MLX is one of the collectives at the forefront of driving that change. “Music is our bread” and although this might be the case, MLX is a phenomenal collective which is also well versed in cross industry collaboration. “I think we’d like to become more of a promotion agency than a label as we really enjoying pushing dope art.”
Check out the MLX website at: