Photo Credit: Sydelle Willow Smith

Where is home?

I was born and raised in Soweto.

How does a Soweto girl end up in Cape Town?

I was studying journalism at Rhodes but it made me unhappy so I applied to do a postgrad (Marketing) diploma in Cape Town. I didn’t know anyone there but was happy to have left Grahamstown.

Who is Black Porcelain?

Black Porcelain is my stage name. I consider myself a storyteller – music is just one of my voices. I wrote a poem called Black Porcelain when I was a teen and I really liked the title so I decided to call myself that.

Why the switch to literature from music?

I never intended to take a break from music because I didn’t think that writing a book would change my life significantly. The Yearning took 10 years to complete; I was writing and singing music while working on it. I’ve been working on new music for the past two years and I’ve grown a lot as a songwriter.

What is your creative process and how has it evolved?

I lack discipline as a songwriter and author. But it all starts with a very small idea/melody and I keep repeating it until something else comes up, and then I trust the story/song to lead me to the end.

Where does radio fit into this?

I grew up in radio – my father started working at the record library at the SABC and he eventually joined (what is now) Metro FM. I was that little girl who went to work with my dad as often as I could because radio fascinated me. In 2007 I was hired to produce a show on Radio 2000. Somehow I started presenting my own show and the rest is history.

The Yearning is rooted in a very South African experience with a young woman trying to reconcile ‘the calling’ with her western-influenced contemporary lifestyle, how did the story come about?

What I started writing in 2006 and what The Yearning is now are two completely different stories. It began as a distraction from my job (in advertising) and as I grew the story began to evolve. Perhaps I was struggling with my own place in the world. I was going through a lot and I wrote a tale about healing; healing I desperately needed.

What’s the hardest part about being an artist?

When people don’t realise how hard we work and they refuse to pay us or respect our work. It's very frustrating that people think my time or skills are not worth compensating. I learned that it's very important to know your worth. It will seriously save you drama – you won’t accept the dodgy gigs, give more of yourself than needed and you'll respect your craft enough to keep honing it.

What gives you joy?

Reading. There's nothing better than getting drawn into a story while the world around me keeps moving.

What do you still want to do?

I still want to be a mom, live outside of my country for a few years, produce a graphic novel, become a better guitar player, learn Arabic, grow my own food, wear a Freakum dress, run a 21km marathon, learn how to make a tomato tart… There is so much!

I learned that it's very important to know your worth. It will seriously save you drama – you won’t accept the dodgy gigs, give more of yourself than needed and you'll respect your craft enough to keep honing it.