Xolani Ndlovu is a Zimbabwe artist who is currently based in South Africa his stage name is X Mile his popularity back home emerged when he was part of the finalists for the Starbrite music talent search. From that day he kept rocking the stage through his Afro-Soul music. 

My Afrika mag had a chit-chat conversation with him as he retakes us to his first performance in South Africa, he also tells us what it meant to share the stage with the late A.k.A. 

During the interview we discuss with X Mile about, what makes him to have a strong connection with the spectators when performing in live shows.

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TR: Hie X Mile, in a sentence can you describe yourself?

XM: X Mile is a chilled, down to earth kind of a guy and yet very energetic and vibrant on stage with a touch of very soulful vocals.

TR: Why did you choose Soul music, and you haven’t migrated completely to the new genres e.g., ‘Amapiano’?

XM: Well, I believe every Artist has got their strength, I found mine in Soul music, Afro-Pop & Afro-Soul Music because of my soulful vocals although one can’t run away from the fact that music keeps evolving all the time. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of collaborations with Artists of different genres to broaden my horizons as well. I’ve done Projects with many SA Amapiano Artists and I’m featured in one of the biggest projects of 2021 titled ‘The Black Duke’ Album with Lady Du, Boohle, Bassie, Sir Trill, Kamu D to mention but a few. I’ve also collaborated with some Hip Hop Artists as well as I’ve been trying to diversify my music, but I’ve always brought that soulful touch no matter the genre I jump into.

TR: You are currently based abroad in SA, during the time you relocated did it ever occur to you that your brand will be accepted in Mzansi?

XM: Moving to SA was one of the toughest and boldest moves I had to take, I knew no one in the music circles, I literally had to start from scratch and penetrated slowly into the SA music game. 

My fear was to be accepted by a different audience altogether, I had one song that made it all easy, “The Click Song”.

 Every time I was given an opportunity to perform, I would sing that song and everyone just fell in love with the song and it led many to invite me to come and sing the song at their events, in no time as I was attending these events I had met and connected with other artists and that’s how I broadened my contact base in SA.

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TR: X Mile you are well known for being a unique atmosphere performing live. What is your secret with your voice that you able to connect with your fans during live performances?

XM: In all honesty, I always get shocked as to how I was able to pull such a performance, because in real life I’m the most shy, chilled, quiet and reserved person, but once I jump on stage, I really don’t know where the energy comes from, I literally become a different person who isn’t shy at all and I engage with the  audience in my performances to make them feel like they’re part of everything that’s happening on stage and it’s always a special feeling all the time and it’s different every time. I guess the secret is in allowing yourself to be you instead of trying to imitate someone else or to follow some rules that you were taught about performing.

TR: What are the major differences between performing live international and back home? 

XM: Based on what I have experienced performing in many cities across different countries, each place has got a certain vibe of its own, e.g performing in Bulawayo is usually less hectic because the people there are generally just chilled people, they enjoy performances differently, they’re just not as loud of a people in general, whereas in SA performing in Joburg is much more of a big vibe and people there like to be loud, crazy and wild and it makes performing a lot more hectic but fun. 

However, Performing in Cape town, Pretoria, Mbabane (Eswatini) also comes with different vibe. 

I would say there’s not much of a difference in performing back home and abroad if you know the kind of a vibe.

TR: Can you share with us one of your greatest moments when you performed live?

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XM: I’ve had so many beautiful moments to remember while on stage… but one that stands out was at Endaweni Ultra Lounge when I had a back to back show with the late A.K.A… it was just a show for the two of us and the whole stage was just for us back and forth, it was one of the most beautiful shows that I’ll remember for a lifetime. “May his soul rest in peace” …

TR: Your career was affected by the Covid 19 effects, how has it recovered? 

XM: Covid had a very bad effect on me, I couldn’t perform anywhere which led me to losing everything I had and becoming homeless for bit, but that’s a story for another day. 

Coming from a point where I thought I would never recover again, I was fortunate enough to take part in a singing competition “Amazing Voices Africa” alongside my fellow brothers from Bulawayo in Sun City, South Africa. Though we didn’t win the competition, being in the finals led many to recognize the talent in me therefore after the competition, I had more opportunities out there again to perform and revive myself as covid restrictions were also being reduced. 

Since then, I was able to release new music and music videos including ‘Induk’enhle’ which led me to winning a BAA Award for best music video of the year.

TR: The video ‘Amaselfie’ has been trending, can you tell us in a summary about the song and what it meant to you working with Sandra Ndebele?

XM: Sandra Ndebele has always been my favourite and I’ve always wanted to be on a song with her, hence for me to finally have not just a song but visuals on top of that with her is more than a blessing and a dream come true.

 We created Amaselfie song in studio together with our producer ‘Umfana’.

 What came to mind was that life is short especially after experiencing covid and so many deaths, so we based the song on encouraging each other to take selfies and keep the memories as we don’t know what tomorrow brings, “life’s short, let them say what they want to say but let’s take selfies and keep the beautiful memories my friend for life is too short to be worried about what others think”. That’s basically what the song is all about, celebrating friendship and keeping lasting memories.

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TR: Why is fashion important to you and who is your stylist?

XM: Looking good, feeling good and looking different from the rest has always been a confidence booster for me, as the shy person that I am, rocking up in a custom designed outfit has always erased that sense of shyness and always boosts my confidence… I’ve suffered from feeling inferior before and Fashion has come to my rescue… I have a very talented designer that does most of my outfits for me, born in Limpopo, his name is Dessigner RSA and his brand is Hip-Hop Cargo.

TR: What word of advice do you have to upcoming artists who are trying to build their careers abroad?

XM: My advice to those who are trying to build their career, is that the most important thing to fight for is your contact base, create a good contact base everywhere you go, connect with people that can get you shows, people that you can collaborate with that will take you to the next stage, people that will plug your content either on radio or TV and keep that contact base alive, keep checking on all your contacts and be patient as well, as some may need you to keep nagging them.

Tapiwa Rubaya

Tapiwa Rubaya is the current affairs, fashion and sports reporter at My Afrika Magazine.

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