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.
Image: courtesy of Tawanda