Moto Moto Podcast features Hair on Fire / Umulilo

I am super-excited that one of my favorite podcasts, Moto Moto African Music Podcast, is featuring my song Hair on Fire / Umulilo this week!

MJ Wemoto’s Moto Moto plays music from all over the African continent, and with the podcasts coming every Friday, is usually my set-up for a fresh infusion of awesome African tunes every weekend.

Moto Moto is described as “the most well-rounded African Music podcast on the internet, serving you with sizzling Afrobeats, Afrobashment, Afro Hip Hop, House, Afrotrap, Afropop and  everything considered African popular music “ and I wholeheartedly agree.

Hop on over to the podcast and have a listen, maybe even subscribe!

Siyabonga (“we thank you” in Ndebele)

Sid Mofyaafrobeats, podcast
New music: Hair on Fire / Umulilo

Hair on Fire / Umulilo is now available on all major platforms.

I initially called the song "Street Guitarist" when I first wrote it - even though the words "street guitarist" do not appear in the lyrics. It’s in the voice of a street guitarist who plays music in order to connect with people, but finds that most people just walk on by without as much as an acknowledgement. He is somebody that is a "nobody" to most people, except for a few people who stop and listen and start tapping their feet, even dancing. That gets him excited - gets his "Hair on Fire".

"Umulilo" is the Bemba word for fire and is the refrain that runs through the song. The full refrain “Leto ‘mulilo” means “bring the fire”. Bemba is a language spoken by about 5 million people in my native Zambia and also in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The song is upbeat because it is a celebration of the fact that even when life is tough, and you are somewhat invisible to others, there is always something that can warm your heart - get your "Hair on Fire”. It could be playing cards with friends, listening to music, visiting Mother, hearing from a friend from a long time ago, watching your favorite team, a smile on the street...

You can listen to it right here on this website, or follow this link to listen to it on other platforms.

Sid Mofya
Beauty in the Mundane
Picture by Ezra Teshome

Picture by Ezra Teshome

Story matters. I'm inspired to write this by a photo gallery I saw displayed at Equator Coffees and Teas in downtown San Francisco. The photos were by a guy called Ezra Teshome, who is a construction professional and an amazing photographer. He uses a vintage Canon AE-1 35mm film camera exclusively for all his work - very cool, and a rapidly-disappearing art in the age of digital photography

I saw the pictures first and liked them. Then I read his explanation of the pictures and I loved them!

He says:
"I chose these photos from my repertoire to show beauty in the mundane melancholy seasons of life. The series shows people who have been physically or psychologically harmed in some way, shape or form. Without revealing the stories of my subjects, the theme / human condition of pain has a presence in each photo.
The pain of moving to a new place; the pain of saying goodbye to a friend or family member. The physical pain of aging; the psychological pain of being too young to be considered of merit. Or recognizing and coping with our inadequacies; or realizing we excel in that which we do not enjoy.
I'm reminded, through these narratives , that I am not alone in my pain. This idea rings true in many ways, especially in light of what hope awaits us after the trials of pain."

I realized, from Ezra, that even though we're artists of a different kind, he a photographer and I a musician, we're choosing to express similar things. We're seeing pain in ourselves and others and "writing" stories about it. Pain is a human condition, as is joy and peace. We are continually moving between these emotions, or states. This connects us all as humans. No exceptions. We reduce that pain by identifying with each other, by exposing our pain to others, and by helping each other.

I wrote my upcoming song, Hair on Fire /Umulilo from the perspective of a street guitarist. The song is about being unknown, and unseen; and the joy that you feel when you find something, or someone, that lights you up. And, as you light up, other people see you, and know a bit more of you. Ans they in turn light up. The refrain is going to be Leta Umulilo (pronounced lay-tah oo-moo-lee-lo) which is Bemba for "bring the fire".

Hair on Fire / Umulilo comes out on all platforms in December.

Meanwhile, check out Ezra's work here.

Collaborating to create "Nimwe Kafwa"

I love collaboration. There is something about having an idea or set of ideas held between different people that all comes together to form something that could never have existed otherwise. I think it’s quite magical!

I wrote Nimwe Kafwa on piano, and worked with my brother who lives in Zambia, who arranged the backing vocals. He asked a Zambian band (True Note) who we know through a mutual friend to sing and record the backing vocals. The producer on the track is Mark Kenoly of Kenoly Studios in Santa Clara, California. He produced, played bass, and mixed and mastered the song. In the process we changed the song in many ways that I couldn’t have anticipated by myself. The collaboration took work, lots of communication, and, sometimes, patience with each other, but it’s a marvelous process to behold.

Incidentally, according to Yuval Noah Harari, the author of Sapiens, this ability to collaborate at scale is what distinguishes human beings from other animals and enables us to rule the earth despite not being the strongest or the fastest species.

Long live collaboration! (see a fascinating video on this by a friend Kate Lamont)

You can listen to Nimwe Kafwa right here on this website, or follow this link to hear it on any online platform.


English translation (poetic, not literal):

Heart fails. Eyes look up. It's darkness.
Words freeze. Hardness. Think I'll go to Him
Friends love, but they're human. Just like me
Money's gone. Hardness. Think I'll go to Him

(Chorus) Hallelujah. Helper. Keeper. Father. Hallelujah

Lead me to water and green grass. I don't need much more
It's all goodness, refreshing. When I go to Him

Bridge) Stay with me. Shelter me. I don't need much more.


Written, arranged and performed by Mofya
Additional vocals by True Note (Chingola, Zambia)
Bass guitar, production, mixing and mastering by Mark Kenoly
Recorded at Kenoly Music Studio, Santa Clara, California.