Don’t set “age deadlines” on your goals – Sjava

We had a chat with musician Sjava about his career and pursuing your dreams despite your age

Take us back to the beginning of your musical journey.

My journey goes as far back as primary school. I had an isicathamiya group called Abafana baseMpumalanga. I eventually moved from KZN to Johannesburg, where I went to high school.

During that time, I was listening to a lot of maskandi and isicathamiya, and I remember many of my peers were listening to hip hop, which was a genre I was completely unaware of. I couldn’t even speak English at the time. My peers introduced me to the genre and it helped me a lot to learn English faster, and I fell in love with the genre.

That’s how my current sound, which is almost a fusion of hip hop and isichatamiya, was born.

When did you start taking music seriously?

In Grade 10 – I was discovered by the late artist Zombo. He started a label and wanted to sign me; he was the first person to believe in me and it meant a lot because at the time he was a professional artist. After he passed away, I started focusing a lot more on acting.

It was around 2013 when I decided that I didn’t want to do the acting thing anymore; music was my first love and I wanted to pursue that. I was 29 years old at the time and a lot of people told me I was forcing the matter, and that I was too old to be start a career in music, but I never let the words get to me.

Four years later, here I am with my ATM (African Trap Music).

When would you say your big break came? 

My big break was definitely when my debut album came out because I had never released any music before.

If you had to describe your music journey in a nutshell, what would you say? 

I’m not going to say it was really hard because that’s what happens when you do music, unless you have money or a family that’s backing you. Obviously it was hard, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. If it wasn’t hard, I wouldn’t have the content I have.

As an artist, I know that if I’m going through something, chances are there’s someone else going through the same thing somewhere else. I want my music to help and heal people through my own experiences.

What advice do you have for people who may think they’re too old to take on a new endeavour? 

They must just keep doing their thing and never look at the years. At the end of the day, creating age deadlines for yourself puts you under unnecessary pressure and when the age does come and you haven’t accomplished what you had set out to do, you will feel like a failure. So rather have a goal set, but don’t set a time deadline to it. Rather continue to work towards it.