British singer, songwriter is still on an escapade around the globe and now ready to knuckle down and record an album titled Made in Malawi.
After commencing on a recording project four years ago, Neil Nayar is finally set to release a live album with his Malawian dominated The New Vibration Band.
The New Vibration’s first gig was at the City of Stars Festival last year and, with the album to be released soon, Nayar is now preparing a busy touring schedule, first to Lilongwe.
“Before coming here I hadn’t written a complete song in two-and-a-half years. So, we decided with the band that instead of playing my old songs, which could be on my first album or EP, we should instead focus on the new songs. And before I knew it we had a repertoire of 14 new original songs. So, then came this idea that if we do all the production here since the band is all Malawian we could call the album Made in Malawi,” he told On the Arts.
According to Nayar, very little is known about Malawi in England, and not about music so he thought it could be a bold title to make people wonder.
“Obviously the main object is to release it here, but I’ll also spend some effort to get the album out in the UK. Also, I like the idea that it encourages pride since I know, as people here should know, that something made in Malawi should be of the highest quality,” explained Neil.
The group comprises five members including Nayar and Rosha Vole on bass, Edson Msendera on drums, Blessings Nkhoma on lead guitar and Christine Msuseni on backing vocals.
According to Nayar, the kind of music he is doing is a little hard to describe as it is a combination of Malawi influences and his innate unique sound.
These influences are ranging from rhumba, kwasa kwasa, country, nsansi which he studied a while in Ntchisi, jazz, and romantic songs.
Said Nayar: “There are 11 tracks on the album, two rhumbas, two country songs, two very much fusion Afro-European, three ballads, one local, and one calypso. The songs talk about friendship, love, travelling, loss, pursuing dreams, overcoming obstacles and facing the past.”
Commenting on the Chichewa song, he said: “I wrote the Chichewa song after walking from Dowa to Ntchisi where I spent three days learning the nsansi. My Chichewa really improved in that short time wandering through villages. So, when I got back to Lilongwe and sat playing with traditional rhythms on my guitar a simple guitar refrain appeared with the lyrics, ‘Uli kuti chemwali, kodi, unapita?’
“This deals with my adopted sister who went back to her real mother when I was 10. I didn’t know that she wasn’t my real sister so it was traumatic. Also, the real mother lived in America so she went far away and we lost our relationship for many years. The chorus says, ‘ndikumbukira nthawi imene tinkaseka,’ so the message is that we should remember the good times and not dwell on the sadness of loss,” he mused.
However, there is more that can make Malawians fall in love with the album.
Nayar does a song dedicated to one of the populous townships of Lilongwe, Kawale in the song Way of a Child.
“I like Kawale so much. There is a strong sense of community and incredibly bright youngsters with a passion for their country and its place in the world at large. Also, I like interacting with the kids, women and men I meet every day when walking around,” he explained.
The penciled date for Made in Malawi launch is April as the artist is still waiting for the final mix before the album is mastered.
Nayar first arrived in Malawi on two years ago and, for the last three years, he has been living a simple life as a working musician.
But being in foreign land where even local artists struggle to find sponsorship, how did he manage to raise funds for an album?
“I raised the money for the album through crowd-funding. Many people pre-buying the album and therefore supporting an artist they like to create their work. I also sold things for more like the pieces of paper on which the songs were written and I said, they could be worth a lot of money someday. So, in some way people have invested in my project.
“It’s a new idea facilitated by the internet. So, by using crowd-funding I was able to get money from all over the world which actually paid for the album. Also, it means there are a hundred people already eagerly anticipating the album,” he explained.