This afro-pop soul group has been together for over a decade, but they haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of their potential. The Muffinz, a five-piece from Johannesburg, have big dreams of making it onto the international touring circuit and helping younger local up-and-coming performers to do the same.

Perfect 10

This year is The Muffinz’s 10-year anniversary of the release of their first studio album, Have You Heard?. The band’s exact starting date is, however, unclear — but according to the band, somewhere between 2010 and 2011. “We’re very proud of all we’ve achieved and celebrate as often as we can,” says Simphiwe “Simz” Kulla, electric guitarist for the group.

Their last release was the single, ‘You’re The One’, in 2019, so the group is currently working on their third studio album. However, except for one, all of the band members have put out solo albums between 2020 and 2021. “This was a strategy to diversify and build individual careers within the band,” explains Geoffrey Taxda Chitima, bassist of the band.

They believe the sound of the upcoming album will naturally form and is continuously forming as they work, but can be best described as South African sonic — similar to the sound they’re already well-known for.

According to Kekelingo Gregory Mabusela, drummer of the group, each band member is influenced by a wide variety of sounds they heard growing up in southern Africa. “Local rhythms infused with influences from the rest of the world — Brazilian samba, North American gospel music, British pop and popular African music on the now [defunct] BOP TV,” he adds

Currently, their sound is best described by their electric guitarist, Atomza Sifiso Buthelezi, as “modern afro-harmony with some slick South African instrumentals”, combined with their thought-inducing lyrics.

The youth must be served

The Muffinz are incredibly serious about collaboration with younger artists. So much so that they started hosting a monthly open-mic-style community meeting for songwriters, The Songwriters’ Soapbox, at Mangrove in Johannesburg.

“We’ve met younger artists [there], largely songwriters who are insanely talented and need the right kind of support and A&R,” says the group’s acoustic guitarist, Mthabisi Mthae Sibanda. Some of these artists include Liyasakha Tyhoba, KatzTheSingR, Menelwa Mbethe, and Cape Town-based four-piece, Kujenga. “There is value in our story and in the fact that we’re creating a sustainable business in the arts as young Africans — and we’ve been doing this for at least 10 years,” he adds.

In 2011, The Muffinz also started a publishing company, Aural Sense Entertainment, to protect their own songwriting and attempt to break into the music business. “We are [currently] focusing on A&R and artist development of the local live music scene,” says Kekelingo, adding that they have a partnership with an American music and entertainment company, The Orchard — which is also a subsidiary of Sony Music. The Orchard distributes their music, as well as allows them to operate as an online record label that is able to support upcoming artists with media, studio time, and showcase performances.

The Muffinz

[Lead singer of The Muffinz, Mthabisi Mthae Sibanda, performing live. PHOTO: Molefe Moeketsi]

Artists like The Muffinz, continuously need to be thinking creatively, especially about how and with who to make their money. “It was like that before the pandemic. The pandemic just put us into overdrive, but the industry doesn’t seem like it has changed yet — it probably never will,” says Kekelingo. According to him, artists are still complaining about an increase in local music quotas, predatory contracts and working conditions — which would probably not be acceptable in other professions. “We’re [just] glad to be able to make an income from doing what we love, which is performing live,” he adds.

The Muffinz welcomed by the Mother City

For a Joburg-based band, The Muffinz have a very strong fanbase in Cape Town, so they would like to come down more. “As a band, we don’t come to Cape Town enough. […] The venues are amazing and people are receptive to live music, especially the kind of live music that is a bit experimental and not entirely clear — like jazz, soul and gospel,” explains Kekelingo.

From 2 to 4 November, The Muffinz have shows at Youngblood Gallery, The Athletic Club & Social, and Selective Live. They are excited to explore these venues because some of their musician friends have performed at them, which has enticed them to do the same. 

“The content from these venues always looks like exactly the type of place and audience we need to be in front of,” says Kekelingo, adding that, outside of some corporate gigs, the last time the band had a public performance in Cape Town was in 2016. 

According to the band, with the world as interesting as it has been at the moment, you can expect anything, but they will keep wowing audiences with new music. However, in the next five years, they would like to see the group, together, and part of the “world music” touring circuit internationally. 


I can’t play any musical instruments or sing, so this is my contribution to the local music scene — which I love immensely. I can’t touch my toes, but that has held me back only slightly in life. My hobbies include reading, beer, bringing up Let’s Get Local when no one asked, writing, and surprising people with my pool skills. I believe somehow all of this will lead me to Dave Grohl.

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