Monique Bingham speaks to Quibell “Q” Ramantswana and Tom Smith at Future radio, Mzansi Show, about her first visit to South Africa, what she thinks about the country and why she thinks Mzanzi is mileage ahead of Amarica as far as deep house music is concerned.
This interview was conducted last year, 2013, when Take Me To Love – the hit track the American star collaborated with the South African-based German, Ralf Gum – was dominating radio stations and night clubs in different continents. She was in Miami, where she was scheduled to perform at the annual South Africa Miami Invasion.
Mzansi heavy-weights such as DJ Fresh, Euphonik, Black Motion, Shimza, Black Coffee were part of the Miami event.
Here are some of the bits of the interview:
Q: Welcome to the Mzansi Show, Monique.
MB: Thank you so much for having me and the support. This should keep going…I am doing South Africa Miami Invasion tonight, that should be great.
Q: Are you allowing these guys [SA Djs/Producers] to invade your country?
MB: Haha! I am fighting them on my side.
Q: One quick question before I forget. I know you might hook up with Black Coffee, if you do, can you guys try to chat about making a song together – because that’s what everyone is looking forward to hear?
MB: Haha! I’ll have to tell him that…
Q: You don’t have to give us a date but we’re looking forward to hear that song.
MB: Ok, definitely! We just bumped into each other yesterday. That’s when I went to music conference, I just bumped into Black Coffee on the streets shopping, it’s pretty funny.
Q: When you started as an artist, what was the dream back then? How long did you want to stay in this business, because some people can’t last as much as you did?
MB: I have to tell you, when I started getting into it, I really wanted to make music that turn me on as much as the music that I love, you know. I really thought it was going to be more like life thing when I first started because I was on stage with so many musicians.
You have to let this things take their cause. I just wanna do this for the rest of my life, I wanna be a little old lady on the stage somewhere, singing (haha)! That’s why I try to write songs that I think they will stand the test of time. I don’t really care what the trend is at the time, it’s really bout longevity for me, so I’ve been very very lucky to be around as long as I’ve been. I don’t know how I’ve been around around for this long, I’m only 25, so…I’m not really 25, I’m just kidding. Haha!
Q: You still got it, I can give you another 50 years (in music). is that enough or too much?
MB: I’m gonna fall out on stage…Haha!
Q: All these years you’ve worked with so many respected Djs & Producers. I can only mention a few: Quinton Harris, Cherry Chandler, Karizma, Osunlade. These are big names, also including one of my current favourite producers, who is now based in South Africa, Ralf Gum. You started working with Ralf Gum in 2008 on “Kissing Strangers” project. How did you guys get to work together?
MB: It just happened. I mean, there is no like a really magical story. He just kind of found me and he sent me the track, I stuck with it for a little while because I’m notorious for taking a long time to write songs, you know. We finally got together, now we actually really great friends, understand each other musically so well. So there is gonna be a lot coming from us for sure in future.
Q: When we talk about Ralf Gum, all I can just say now is: Take Me To My Love. How do you normally react when someone say to you, Monique, Take Me To My Love?
MB: Haha! Honestly, I’m still kind of shocked by the way it’s been received. People are just really loving it and that’s what you want, so I’m just grateful. I’m just happy that, after all this time, I’m still able to figure out how to move people, so it’s really just wonderful.
Q: What made it [Take Me To My Love] work?
MB: I think just being as honest and as genuine as possible. Ralf is the same as me. We don’t approach things thinking, ok, it’s gonna be perfect. We just talk it, you know, calculating every move, what the current trends are, do something that hits us genuinely and just really good.
I had a gig in Durban in 2011, dancers where just dancing and the moves were amazing. There was this one guy, the rhythm of the way he dances and I thought, how about I could just grab that and do something about it vocally. That’s the influence of Take Me To My Love.
Q: Let’s be fair, you’ve got so much love in South Africa and people are always tweeting about your song, your name, everyday actually…
MB: I am terrible, I’m never on Twitter. I’m terrible! Haha!
Q: Actually, I was going to complain about that. I mean, you only tweeted 3 times in 3 years. That is not fair, Monique.
MB: It is terrible, I’ve never get started. When my album comes out I think I’m gonna start tweeting more. I know I’m so afraid that [tweeting]. I’m like these guys, these corporation, are gonna sell a lot of information like terribly…LOL
Q: Let’s chat about South Africa. Tell me about your first experience of travelling to South Africa to do your job, performing?
MB: The first time I went was early 2011. Recently, I started to come back and forth. I did the the Cape Town Jazz festival, which was such an honour. I mean, I have been hanging out and talking to Hugh Masekela in the back room. We were on fire, hanging out in the hotel for a little bit. It was just amazing.
And then there is Cape Town, if you’ve never been there it is just one of the most beautiful places on earth. It is just absolutely gorgeous! We went there with some good friends and the band that I brought with me. It was just an amazing first time in the country. And just the crowd, you can’t tell how much your stuff is racinating with people until you really go and see and I was just blown away. I couldn’t believe that, you know, all this time these records have been building up this momentum. It’s just so great to keep going back to. I really love South Africa, It’s fabulous!
Q: Would you be able to consider moving to South Africa?
MB: I’m telling you like, lately I’ve been really thinking about about that, at least for a next chunk of time, not forever. You know, I need my subway… (LOL)
Tom Smith: Would you say deep house is bigger now in South African that it is in the US?
MB: I have to say that for sure. We were going to stadiums playing, like to stadium in one night, more than one stadium is closed with people throughout the show. You know, I don’t know anywhere else those kind of crowds would come out to see what we do.
Q: What do you normally tell your friends in the US about South Africa?
MB: They need to get on the plane and get over there. They have so many weird notions about Africa in general and South Africa. It will blow your mind. Just get on the plane, it will blow your mind.