13/03/2018 16:21 SAST | Updated 14/03/2018 09:14 SAST

Nakhane On New Music, The Problem With Queer Role Models And Late-Onset 'Inxeba' Trauma

HuffPost caught up with South Africa's artist of the moment, and tea was spilt.

AFP / Getty Images
South African singer Nakhane performs at the Aire Libre concert hall in Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande, outside Rennes in France, as part of the 39th edition of the Trans Musicales music festival.

South African author, actor and musical star Nakhane has already had quite a year, what with the local furore over his award-winning depiction of a gay Xhosa initiate in "Inxeba". But things are about to move into overdrive as he prepares to launch his new album.

Record label BMG will be releasing the album, called "You Will Not Die", on Friday. It comes just weeks after the release of a new video and single called "Interloper", which has been receiving rave reviews around the world.

Nakhane spoke to HuffPost from BMG's Berlin office to share his experiences over the past few months, from being in Europe while all the drama unfolded back home, to his soaring global fame, to what the new album means for his career.

You seem to have come into your own as an artist over the past year. How are you feeling creatively at the moment?

Something happened in the past year and a half. The first thing was dropping the Toure, my surname, and becoming Nakhane, for myself and people as well. It was a thing of, "Okay, I am owning myself, I am mine, I am responsible for no one else but myself."

It gave me so much freedom, in terms of my art and my life, and that meant that I could do whatever the f*ck I wanted. With "Interloper", I wanted to exhibit a sense of freedom and excitement about life... life doesn't just give you roses. Yes, there's always a little sh*t on the side, and you need to be prepared for that, but we need to try and not forget that it's not all bad. We just need to chill sometimes and enjoy the view.

People have been calling you a queer role model, but you seem reluctant about it.

Once you accept the identity of a "queer role model", you can't come back. I'm way too f*cked up for that. When someone asks me for advice I'm like, "I don't know!" We are all just figuring it out, pressing all the buttons and hoping something works, otherwise it wouldn't be this hard. I'm just lucky to have a family that gave me a certain kind of confidence in myself, and also encouraged my abilities, but also gave me a f*ck-you attitude. My mom still gives me that "f*ck them" speech, and that's really helped me.

What was it like watching all the "Inxeba" drama unfold while you were overseas?

I had to take a lot of medication for that sh*t. "Inxeba" was necessary, but it was not easy, and I'm done pretending that it was okay; that I am okay. We're f*cked right now, all of us in the crew – but I am proud of what it revealed. Hopefully it shifts something in the minds of the people, but I am tired now, really.

What should we look forward to from the new album?

I am so proud of it, I bled for this one, I haemorrhaged for this album, but I am just really proud right now. Like you said, I have really come into my own as an artist; I've matured. But I also feel like a child at the same time. I always look at children and how excited they are, and how they have no fear of being judged, and I never want to lose that excitement. And I guess that's what I hope people get with this album – that feeling, and the sense of just living our lives, you know.

"You Will Not Die" will be available in stores and on most major streaming services on Friday, March 16.

Follow @nakhane for updates and tour information.