Moonchild Sanelly has picked the perfect moment to grace the world with her good vibes. With external misery continuing to closeaa in, her debut international offering, the ‘Nüdes’ EP (released last month via Transgressive), offers the perfect escape - its jubilant ac brimming with body positivity, sex positivity and a determination to let nothing stand in the way of a good time.
The Johannesburg-based singer and rapper established herself on home turf some time ago, where she’s been hailed as the ‘Queen of Gqom’ - the style of minimal house that arose in South Africa during the 2010s. After immersing herself in the Durban poetry scene of the late 2000s (“Give me a word and I can tell you a story,” she says), Sanelly branched off into making her own music because she “wanted something more exciting, something that wasn’t already being done”.
Having grown up obsessed with kwaito, hip hop and jazz, she now has her own way of describing her sound. “I call my genre ‘future ghetto funk’,” she says. “It’s a blend of different things. What I bring to a song is not necessarily limited to a genre, but it is very distinct and you can definitely hear where I’m from. If you don’t understand the gqom, there’s something else that speaks to you; it’s really exciting to see people from different places a that.”
It’s not all they’re celebrating, either. Her track ‘Thunda Thighs’ recently inspired a TikTok dance challenge, acting as an entreaty for women to celebrate their bodies. “It’s a song that reminds women that they are awesome as they are,” she explains, although the South African radio authorities didn’t agree, banning it from the airwaves earlier this year. It didn’t stop the track from becoming an international viral smash, however, and many of the clips are set to feature in a forthcoming video for the song.
August’s ‘Where De Dee Kat’, meanwhile, is a paean to sex positivity, a full-throated anthem to female desire with its chorus of “penis, penis, penis”. “It’s like, man, we come from sex, let’s talk about it!” she says. “I get surprised how people fear talking about sex, and it’s like, why? Why are they scared of something they’ve enjoyed?”
It’s grimly predictable that the singer has had to deal with a measure of abuse as a result. “They associate it with being a slut, saying that you enjoy sex and talking about it,” she explains. “I get called all these names all the time on social media, but they’ll have to deal with it, because I’m not changing anything and I’m not going to not talk.” Does she secretly quite enjoy winding those people up? “Abso-motherfucking-lutely! It really does give me a kick,” she beams. Suck it up trolls, ‘Nüdes’ is clearly just the beginning for Moonchild Sanelly.
As featured in the October 2020 issue of DIY, out now.
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She’s got awards in her eye-line and Beyoncé in her phone book, and with her second record in the works, Moonchild Sanelly’s message of “freedom, joy and liberation” is exactly what the world needs.
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