Having been in the music industry for 16 years, soulful songstress SPHEMusic is establishing herself as an artist with the release of her debut album “Beautiful”.
Born Siphelele Sokhela, the musician has had a passion for music from a young age and would bug her elder brother DJ Sox, (Mbusi Sokhela) who is one of the founding members of Durban’s Finest, to put her on a song.
She eventually got her bigger brother to give her an opportunity to record a demo and her voice was heard by fellow Durbanite DJ Bongz, who featured her on his smash hit “As long as you love me”.
This happened all while Sphe was still in high school, igniting her career in the musical space. Having been a part of a choir, the musician got to tour internationally to places like Germany, Russia and Estonia before heading into university.
Now SPHE is ready for South Africans to get to know her as more than just a feature collaborator with her debut offering.
IOL Entertainment caught up with the 33-year-old to find out about her comeback into the music scene, the making of “Beautiful” and all that is SPHEMusic.
Her debut album could be described as long overdue, considering how long she has been making music, however, life is known to take its own course – and that was the case with her.
The marketing graduate worked her way up the corporate ladder as a brand manager at one of the leading insurance companies in the country.
She has been doing music for a long time but is a rising/upcoming artist. One would think she takes offence at being put in that box, having done so many features in the past.
“I think I don’t mind people treating me as an upcoming artist because essentially I am.
“This is the first time I’m branching out on my own and instead of featuring on other people’s or household names. Songs, right? I don't mind it. I really don’t mind it,” she said.
Two years ago, when she found herself at her lowest, she started feeling alive after recording music in her brother’s home studio.
“Every time I’d go into the studio, I would just feel alive again and I’d really feel that sense of fulfilment and happiness again.
“I just started recording music. In fact, this album wasn’t initially supposed to be an album. It was just going into the studio releasing emotions that I was feeling. So, every song on the album is, is a real, is a real emotion.”
Recording the album over the past two years has been a way for the musician to release the emotions she was experiencing.
“Beautiful”, which is also the album title, was one of the first tracks she recorded and it’s the song that pushed to keep going.
She described the song as a note to self: “It’s about the fact that you set your eyes on the stars and live your dreams because you’re beautiful.”
“It’s just an affirmation of your inner beauty and your talents and making you, it motivated me to go after my dreams.”
In June, SPHEMusic released the visuals to her chart-topping single “Khuluma”, featuring award-winning musician Mondli Ngcobo, which is the first single of the album.
This was not her first time working with Ngcobo, who has produced hits for multi-platinum selling artist Kelly Khumalo and Grammy award-winning artist Black Coffee.
She previously worked with him when she was 16 on DJ Bongz’ hit, “As Long As You Love Me”, and calls him agreeing to work with her again a “highlight”.
“We got back together in the studio and did such an amazing song. It’s called “Khuluma” . It was a smash hit, it was number one. Three consecutive weeks on Gagasi “Top 10 Afropop charts”.
Time may have passed between their last collaboration but Sphe revealed that the musician has been always supporting her pursuing music.
“He has always been pushing me, you know, as far as the music is concerned. So coming back into the studio with him, it was just like it was back in 2000.”
This time, however, Ngcobo is the one who composed the song.
“It was nice being on both sides of, you know, where he composed the one song and I composed the other. So, there’s a difference in the sound of the songs because it was written by one of the other of us.”
Sphe has also worked with Phila Madlingozi, he features on the song “Queen”, a fantasy love song inspired by the late Zulu king’s King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu passing and the prospects of a Queen.
The two have become good friends and connected over the fact that they are related to legends and their passion for music. Madlingozi is the son of award-winning musician Ringo Madlingozi.
The album consists of different sounds, there is something to get you in a dance mood or in your feels.
“What’s lovely about the album is that again, like, I’m very musical in a sense that I love all types of music like, so I sing what I like, right? I love R&B. I love our pop. I love afro tech, I Iove dance, I love house music. So, there’s literally all of those genres and the album.”
Prior to the album’s release, the singer was fearful of everyone having access to her diary, which is her music.
But releasing the project is one of her proudest moments yet: “To face my fears, you know, and finally, do what, you know, I know is my purpose.”