A few years ago, singer/songstress Marissa Guzman was on every House music fan’s lips in South Africa, making headlines when her song ‘Time to Go’, Black Coffee remix, topped the charts on various radio stations and Traxsource (Worldwide digital music store).
The American vocalist instantly fell in love with Mzansi house music scene and the country loved her back.
What Marissa didn’t know is that once one fall in love with Mzansi’s house music scene, the temptation of emigrating to the Republic of South Africa is irresistible.
Raised in Detroit by a father who was on the Motown label, Eddie Guzman of Rare Earth, and a mother who is a painter/interior designer, Marissa finally gave into the temptation and she has now moved closer to the fans she describes as “the best in the world” – South African fans!
I caught up with Marissa to find out more about her move to Mzansi.
1. You finally emigrated to South Africa, how does it feel like to call South Africa your second home?
Marissa: It feels great! Although I’ve never been here during the winter months… I didn’t know it gets so cold.
2. How popular is your South African name, Khanyisa? And please tell the story behind it.
Marissa: The story behind it is that one of my fans said on Facebook “You need a South Africa name!” Then the comments started flowing. Someone said “Khanyisa! It means light.” I loved that so much and it stuck.
3. What is the biggest reason for your move to South Africa?
Marissa: Well the biggest reason was to be able to do shows for my fans. They don’t play house music on the radio in America, so it’s really hard to make it as an artist in that genre. Since there is basically no money in music sales anymore and primarily just in the gigs, that’s the way us artists stay afloat. So to be closer to the people who appreciate me the most just makes sense! Plus, I want to help shed light on new, talented producers/vocalists by signing them to my record label, Juicy Lucy. Black Coffee did that for me and look where it got me. He passed the baton to me so it’s my turn to help!
4. When did you start entertaining the thought of moving to SA for good and what was the inspiration behind the idea?
Marissa: Haha – well the fact that I was constantly on the lookout for a kitty sitter made me realize that I spend more time here than at home in San Francisco. It’s a bummer because after all of that, I found out I couldn’t take my kitty, Junipurr with me Delta Airlines makes the animals ride with the luggage and that could have killed her. So basically it’s all because of my cat lol.
5. You are based in which city?
Marissa: I will be based in Joburg and Cape Town. Joburg because it’s the business mecca, and Cape Town for 2 reasons. 1) Coming from San Francisco where you’re surrounded by mountains and the beautiful sea, it’s sooooo inspiring to artists. So I realized I need the breathtaking landscape to be inspired and to come alive artistically.
2) I’m starting a VERY exciting new collaboration project with Erefaan Pearce who is based there, called Pearl Divers. Our first release, which is a tech house jam, is due to come out on Kevin Saunderson’s sister label 2nd Born. We are very excited about this and definitely need to start building a repertoire of songs.
6. What would you miss about America?
Marissa: I will miss my Mom, my family, my friends, my kitty, Burritos and Pho (a delicious Vietnamese soup)!
7. Many South Africans will remember you by the song you did with Black Coffee a few years ago, ‘Time To Go’, how did that song build your relationship with South African fans?
Marissa: Oh man. Well, the song was written about the first person to ever break my heart. It was a very unhealthy relationship. I think we all know, love can be like an addiction. When you know it’s bad for you, but you just keep running back for more because of the feeling you get. Eventually when you realize you can’t do it anymore and you’ve totally had it, you have to dig deep to find the strength to let it go. You need to be your own best friend, constantly giving yourself advice and support to be strong enough to end it. That’s what happened to me, and I think a lot of people could relate with that!
8. You call South African fans the best in the whole world, what makes them the best?
Marissa: Because they just support me to the end! As an artist, we can be so hypersensitive about our work. Rejection can literally paralyze us to the point of not wanting to create anything for the fear that people won’t like it. My fans in South Africa…they not only support every song I make, but they absolutely love the songs! I’ve had 5 #1 songs on Yfm. That is such a blessing!! It’s also the fuel I need to not give up on this dream I have, and to stay confident enough to keep pushing out new music. I am eternally grateful for their constant love and support.
9. And how many South African producers have you worked with since then?
Marissa: Quite a few! After Black Coffee, I’ve worked with Cuebur, Erefaan Pearce, Qness, and I have a few upcoming releases with Whisky, Zulu Mafia and Stethoscope. I’m really excited about the new stuff coming out!!
10. Apart from music, what is the best thing about South Africa from an American perspective?
Marissa: I think there is an energy in South Africa that you can’t find anywhere else. It probably has a lot to do with everything the country has gone through historically. The fact that the citizens killed hate with love blows me away and it comes out in the art, music, and culture. “We are One” is something that symbolizes that we are burning down cultural barriers with music. As a white artist with all my fans being black, it really says something about the direction the country is moving toward. My fans are the grandchildren of the men and women who went through Apartheid. It’s actually a revolution that South Africa is going through, and I’m so very proud to be a part of that history
11. How do people get hold of you for bookings?
firstname.lastname@example.org or +27 073 092 2731
12. Your message to your SA fans?
Marissa: Do not ever forget your dreams. Honor them and don’t ever ever ever give up. I had a lot of rejection when I was just starting out back in 2007. Now those same people who rejected me are begging to work with me. And if “God gave you a gift, and you’re not sharing it with the world, then you’re being selfish.” That quote changed my life and gave me the courage to sing in front of people.