20/11/2016 16:27 SAST | Updated 20/11/2016 18:15 SAST

Sketchy Bongo Has A Big Surprise Planned For His New Album... And It Has Nothing To Do With His Music

After producing some of the biggest hits on South African charts this year, we're ready to hear what Sketchy Bongo has cooked up for his first album drop

Supplied by artist

There was not a radio chart anywhere in the country that did not feature a production by Sketchy Bongo this year. The KwaZulu-Natal native, whose real name is Yuvir Pillay, is quickly becoming one of South Africa's biggest producers, and created work for AKA, JR, Da LES and Aewon Wolf. But it was undoubtedly the catchy, easy-listening of Back To The Beach featuring Shikinah and Kyle Deutsch that shot him into the spotlight in 2015, and he remained there since. It also took him across international borders — including a spot on the line up of this year's Jameson Vic Falls Carnival.

For the balaclava-clad 26-year-old, music has always been in his blood and the chance to get his work out into the world has been overwhelming. "[2016] has been one of the biggest years in terms of my career and I think it's only going to get bigger," he told The Huffington Post South Africa.

Sketchy Bongo said this year was filled with so many highlights, he could not pick out just one. Working on collaborations with some of South Africa's biggest names in music, Sketchy Bongo was also snapped up by Ultra Music and Sony Music America in 2016.

"I worked with Kyle and Aewon Wolf — guys I've been working with for years — and collaborated on projects such as Coke Studios and Mash Labs. Every collaboration is different," he said.

Sketchy Bongo is part of the Durban-based Wolf Pack — a creative collective of musicians, video directors, artists and graphic designers working to promote the coastal city's creative talent.

"I like people to express themselves and their creativity, and to be involved in making that happen," he said. "South African sound is so diverse and I've incorporated it in my [new] album."

After releasing his EP in 2015, Sketchy Bongo began working on his first full-length album that will be released on 31 January 2017, and features collaborations with members of the Wolf Pack.

"The EP was super experimental. I played with a whole lot of different sounds on there."

But, he says, the album will be a little different.

"There will be a lot more collaboration. We'll be releasing it everywhere — it's a commercial album and there will be videos and singles ready to come out. The first single, Love Me In The Dark, is ready and the video will drop on the same day."

Sketchy Bongo has his sights set firmly on international domination too.

"Getting signed overseas was a definite highlight," he said of his Sony deal. "This album is going to be released internationally and we're going to get that South African sound out there."

Is it finally time to meet the man behind the balaclava?

"Yeah, I think it is," he said, laughing. "[The balaclava] was never a plan, but [it] became a good way to create a character," Sketchy Bongo explained. "I was on a video set and there was a ski mask and I decided to put it on for the shoot. And that's how Sketchy Bongo was born," he said. It also became his way of keeping a professional distance from his music; if people didn't know who he was, they were able to just appreciate the music. Think of performers like Sia or South Africa's Mzekezeke (one of DJ Sbu's aliases).

"But I think it's time to let it go now. It's hot under there, man!"