Mandy ZA

Mandy ZA

Artist / Singer-Songwriter

An upcoming music star, and singer, songwriter born in KwaZulu-Natal, but raised in Johannesburg. She grew up listening to the likes of Tamia, Mariah Carey, and Westlife and was influenced by the sounds of RnB which later influenced her passion for writing and expressing herself through music. Mandy ZA’s incredible ability to use her voice in almost any genre is a skill she is known for. She is seamlessly able to use her voice together with her witty lyrics predominately about love, in a way that speaks to the soul.

“I’m not even just a vocalist anymore. I’m an artist who makes music and 100% loves what she does. I’m a singer, and a songwriter. Not genre specific.” – Mandy__ZA

Digging into the creative process, Byta speaks with artists, musicians, producers, DJs and anyone involved with music creation. A conversation about how they create, collaborate and share music. From studio setups to routines, and the first person to hear about the next 'big' work.

Where are you based?

Johannesburg, South Africa.

How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do something else?

I started making music in 2020 professionally. The 1st producer I worked with was Tyler ICU. But I’ve genuinely been doing music practically my whole life.

Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?

Everyone influences my sound. I listen to a looooot of music so. Tamia, Mariah Carey, and Westlife are just a small sample. No! I haven’t stolen tricks. If I’ve sung another person’s verse or song then it was probably a cover.

Explain your creative process. Do you have a routine?

My creative process is always Melody 1st, then lyrics. I usually find melodies to beats that are already done. My schedule however depends on who I’m working with so it’s all over the place. Sometimes it’s me making music all night and this is most likely because most producers like working all night and all day. Or it’s from early morning till late evening. However, that’s when I go to the studio. Sometimes I stay at home and make covers or music.

What is your “studio” setup?

Usually, I’m at another person’s studio. And it’s always the same setup. PC, mic, keys, speakers etc… the basics. Sometimes it’s a full-on studio where I don’t even know what’s what. Obviously, my favourite instrument is the electric guitar which is crazy because we hardly have it in the studio. I’ve only been in its presence twice in the studio. It’s a special instrument but, the piano makes my writing process easier so there’s also that.

Mandy ZA studio

What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely? 

My writing process stays exactly the same when I’m in the studio with other people. If I’m working with other vocalists, it’s very rare that they’ll make any input when it comes to another person’s lyrics, I’d like to think it’s an unspoken rule or something. But with some producers and ALL rappers, they’re very hands-on which is always better because they usually know what they want or where the song must GO. When I work with other people most of the time there’s a pianist, a guitarist, a saxophonist etc….  I love those sessions because a song is made from scratch from the beat all the way to the melody – a special moment.

At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?

Haha, the moment I’m done recording it. As in, the moment I leave that studio with the music I made that day, anybody can hear it. Why would I leave with songs I’m unhappy with to the point where I’m uncomfortable with others hearing it?! That’s bogus. Hear my mistakes because I’m open to criticism as well. The only people I send to after the studio is my team.

Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?

Yes, every time my music is about to be released, or on release day, something always happens whereby either my name or some Metadata is wrong and my team have to scramble to email all the different platforms or the distributor to change it. That’s stressful!

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How do you know when a track/album is finished?

I need to be able to jam to it without cringing at how it’s been mixed or mastered. Cringing is such a norm because there is some tweaking that’s done to my voice that I sometimes don’t like.

How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?

There are many pre-release horror stories and post-release horror I can’t even get into it because I’m still traumatised. Most of these horror stories are of songs I was featured on. If you know you know. Which I’m sure you’re kinda getting. Let’s just say, as a featured artist who’s not really big in the industry yet, you’re not protected on another person’s song no matter how much you press that other person about it beforehand and afterwards.

Who on your team gets to hear the final versions first and why, what formats do they each need?

My team is my management and they are also my friends. They get to hear the finished product first, every time!

Mandy ZA Byta

Outside of your inner circle who are the people that will need to hear the new tracks next?

Preferably DJs that’ll play my music wherever and whenever. We need to send to them in advance of release. (pre-release music sharing).

Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?

I’m working on a couple of songs. The features are a surprise but I’ll give one collab away: Sino Msolo