Tawanda charms with tender debut EP about relationship trouble

Meet Tawan­da: a new brown-eyed pur­vey­or of haunt­ing soul.

Born and raised in Zim­bab­we, and based in Lon­don, this singer-song­writer and pro­duc­er recent­ly shared his first ever release: a debut EP, titled TTYD (aka The Things You Do).

This is stir­ring bed­room soul of the D’Angelo, Maxwell and Omar vari­ety. Smooth, mul­ti-lay­ered instru­men­tals set the mood, and, steadi­ly, Tawan­da fills you in. But just a lit­tle. This is a debut release after all – a tone setter.

“The EP came about as an inspi­ra­tion from the main title track ‘TTYD (Tempt­ed)’,” Tawan­da told Fringe Fre­quen­cy.

“This song was titled ‘The Things You Do’ as it describes the work­ings of a rela­tion­ship at odds with itself. The song was inspired by a pre­vi­ous rela­tion­ship, one that was at times beau­ti­ful, with all the trap­pings of a seem­ing­ly healthy union, but ulti­mate­ly doomed, as the two could not rec­on­cile their differences.

“Even though both par­ties knew they could not make it work, they tried. And that’s where the ‘tempt­ed’ aspect of the title comes in. Though we some­times know what ulti­mate­ly lies with­in a union – pain and frus­tra­tion – the temp­ta­tion to make things work some­times spurs us on. So, we timid­ly yearn, dear­ly, for one anoth­er, until we’re doomed.”

This first taster is heavy on instru­men­tal mood, reel­ing you in with slow, delib­er­ate motions – slow­er still than the draw­ing of cur­tains and the twist of a dim­mer switch.

Tawan­da pro­duced the whole five-track EP him­self. And though it all seems sim­ple, achiev­ing this mul­ti-lay­ered expres­sion took quite a bit more work than it appears. For instance, there are approx­i­mate­ly 30 lay­ers of per­cus­sion tracks alone on the title song, ‘Tempt­ed’, says Tawanda.

“My main mode of song­writ­ing is my gui­tar,” he explains. “In ‘Tempt­ed’ you hear the elec­tric gui­tar lead, which forms the basis of the melody. The rest of the track, how­ev­er, is heav­i­ly per­cus­sion dri­ven. For these per­cus­sion ele­ments, I employed the use of sim­ple and nat­ur­al drum syn­the­siz­ers played through a MIDI keyboard.

“The great thing about syn­the­siz­ers is the ver­sa­til­i­ty they afford the artist. Though, I make heavy use of synths, I always pre­fer to use the more sim­ple and nat­ur­al sound­ing synths so as to cre­ate that live music feel. It’s a style and genre of music that I per­son­al­ly enjoy a lot.”

TTYD is a brief, but tan­ta­lis­ing, glimpse at what this new­com­er is capa­ble of.

Tawan­da is cur­rent­ly work­ing on his as-yet-unti­tled debut album, as well as visu­als to accom­pa­ny it. The album will offer a much broad­er sub­ject mat­ter and more unique pro­duc­tion styles, he says.

TTYD is out now, and can be streamed or pur­chased here. You can keep up with Tawan­da via Face­book.

Image: cour­tesy of Tawanda