Fortune favours the brave, and luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. Such is the career trajectory of young South African producer extraordinaire, Clxrity. Unbeknownst to him, the amount of time he spent honing his skills in his dorm room would lead to him getting placement on the biggest R&B project to be released in South Africa in recent times .
He is the producerial brains behind Elaine‘s culture-defining, mammoth single “You’re the One”, as well as her other enthusiastically received single, “Risky”, which are all part of her brilliant EP Elements. Abound with world-wide appeal, the concise R&B EP propelled Elaine to the pantheon of great international artists like Adele, Beyoncé, Chloe & Halle, Bob Dylan and many others, as they all became her label mates through a deal she inked with Columbia Records announced in August.
We caught up with the virtuoso producer whose producer tag “Clxrity Is Clear To Say” has inadvertently been turned into a popular Twitter quip among Elaine’s ardent fans. Real name Ntateko Shilowa, the 19 year-old producer from Pretoria, is also a music composer, guitarist, songwriter and audio engineer.
Also having already worked with artists like KC The Plug, Denimadic, J Clu, AKA and Gator, in the interview below, we delve into how he started out, the opportunities that have fallen into place for him post-Elements and what’s in store for him moving forward.
How did you link up with Elaine and start a working relationship with her?
Elaine and I actually went to school together. She hit me up one day after hearing around school that I made beats. Then we started working together from then on. This is how I ended up producing three out of the seven songs on her acclaimed Elements project.”You’re The One”, “Risky” and “I/You”.
When and how did your musical journey begin?
My musical journey began back when I was 14 years old. I was writing exams at the time, and one day my father called me to his bedroom to show me a documentary he was watching, that was playing on CNN. It was about the large scale EDM music festivals that are hosted around the world. At one point in the documentary, they had a conversation with a producer on how he makes his music. When I saw that he was making the music from a laptop, I was shocked because, up to that point, I didn’t know that one could make music from a laptop. Luckily, as the producer was talking, the camera zoomed in on his laptop, close enough for me to see that the program he was using was called Fruity Loops. I then took a photo and started making my own research on it. I was enchanted by the whole process and so by the time I was 15, I had downloaded the program, taught myself how to use it and I started taking music seriously from then on.
Elaine – You’re The One (Official Music Video)
Who would you say are your biggest influences so far?
To be honest with you, I am still figuring all that out. I mean, the truth is, I draw inspiration from many genres as I mentioned. What planted the seed in me was seeing an EDM producer, yet what I am known for is making R&B, so that shows you how deep and wide my influences go. The list is really long but all in all, I think it’s safe to just say, I’m still figuring it out.
How was it working with AKA, and is there any music that has been released by him that you worked on?
The song I produced that AKA ended up being one was actually by an artist named Vato Kayde. It’s called “Lost Hills” and features AKA and Gator. I made the beat when I was in the studio with Gator, then I got a call informing me that AKA would be on the song. As you can imagine, that was really exciting.
Vato Kayde – Lost Hills [Feat. AKA & Gator] (Official Audio)
Is there any more music that you guys worked on that didn’t make it on to Elements?
Yes. We did work on other songs but they were not coming out how we had envisioned them, so they remained on the cutting room floor.
Having worked with Elaine, could you foresee that the music you and her were working on would have this much impact?
I thought the songs were going to do well because we really loved them. But I won’t lie, I certainly wasn’t expecting the life-changing opportunities and achievements that would come later as a result of the music we worked on. That was definitely unexpected. And with her subsequent success as an artist, as well as the reception of the album, that has translated into me also receiving some level of success and opportunities as the producer behind her most beloved hits. So, man, Elements has really changed a lot of things for me.
What are some of these changes?
My resume, after the success of Elements, now affords me the access to artists that I have always wanted to work with for a longtime, who have otherwise been so out of reach. But now, working with these same artists is now a possibility.
What was the dynamic when working on Elements, considering it was just you and Elizée providing production for Elaine?
We are all individuals. The three songs that Elaine and I worked on were done in my dorm room and the four songs that Elaine and Elizée worked on were done at Elizée’s place.
Are there any projects that you’re working on at the moment?
Right now, I’m currently working on myself. I have a lot more time on my hands because of the lockdown, so I’ve been learning new skills and improving the skills that I already possess. It’s funny because if you would ask me what my short-term or long-term goals are, I wouldn’t be able to answer that. This is because at the moment, it’s very hard for me to say what’s in store for sure because as I mentioned earlier, I did not expect the life-changing opportunities that came after Elements was released. Nonetheless, I definitely want to continue finding new talent and make a difference.
Any artists that you would like to work with?
Definitely. I would love to work with artists like Samthing Soweto, Kabza De Small, Nasty C, Sun-El Musician… the list goes on, really.
Are you keen on exploring other genres?
With regards to genres, as I stated when speaking about my introduction to music, I started out making EDM at first, then hip-hop. Now it’s R&B, but there are still lots of genres that I would like to explore.