Mpho Pholo best known to many in the industry as 37mph is an award-winning and highly skilled music composer, producer, director and performer from South Africa. Undoubtedly one of the most accomplished and talented producer and musicians of our time, 37mph has been a returning music producer and director on Africa’s biggest music show: Coke Studio Africa, The Voice Afrique Francophone, The Bantu Hour and The Voice (Nigeria), among other top productions.
Kool Out briefly caught up with this musical maestro to talk about his involvement in Coke Studios, music production & his new single “Eyes Closed.”
1) What’s good 37mph?
- Exciting times as I’ve been in studio the last couple of months crafting a body of work for release this year.
2) So tell us when did it all start for you?
- I produced my first song in 2002 and my first release was in 2003 on the African Dope Harambe Dope Sessions. I also produced Mizchif’s “A Wonderful World” from “Supernatural, My Return” album.
“I usually keep things very organic but organized”
3) Your seen as one of SA’s most gifted music producers what is you procees like when creating music?
- Thank you, it’s never as effortless as it may appear from the outside. Producing quality music requires a lot of time in studio, away from “cool things” constantly learning new techniques, mastering your preferred DAW. My process will remain a secret but usually keep things very organic but organized. For my current project I started with a brief document of the things I like and want to sound like. Then began writing songs/just lyrics and chords. After writing the core songs, I started producing the songs and approaching the potential featured artists.
4) What software & equipment do you use in studio?
- Right now my preferred DAW is Ableton Live Suite. I’ve been traveling quite a lot so I’ve forsaken the idea of sitting in one studio and several pieces of equipment such as the MPC 2500 that I used to produce Reason’s Audio 3D album, the Korg R3 Synth that I used on many albums as well as live. Everything I use now is “in the box”. So within my laptop is Ableton Live 9, Ableton 10, Native Instruments Komplete 11, Nexus (the entire suite-cost 60k), Universal Audio plugins which I access via the Universal Audio Apollo Twin Solo. Other than that, I usually travel with my monitors Genelec 6010B and a subwoofer.
5) You’re the musical director & producer for Coke Studio Africa & have worked with numerous African musicians on the show, how has that experience been for you?
- I have worked on two seasons of Coke Studio Africa (Season 4 and Coke Studio 2017) and I can tell you that it’s one of the most demanding projects I’ve ever worked on and so greatly rewarding. It’s exciting to work in a space that marries both music and television. Music, obviously because that’s my first love and television because of the strict deadlines and the vast scale of working with different departments such as choreography, technical, lighting, production and the talent all at once. The collaborative aspect of working on Coke Studio is the most exciting part of the job. Coke Studio is about discovery: artists discovering each other’s music as well as their cultures. So this is one huge learning experience for everyone involved. For me as the resident music director working with Thatch Music I discover what’s going down in the continent in terms of the music trends and how your favorite Pan-African A-list artists put together music and most importantly who they are. so the experience has been amazing.
6) You’ve worked with some of SA’s best artist’s & you have recently released a new song titled “Eye’s Closed” featuring Kaien Cruz & Big Star. How did this song come about?
- When I started working on the body of work I’m currently finalizing, I decided to keep the subject matter on the lyrics about love focusing mostly on positive aspects of it. So when I begin writing the album the instrumental for Eyes Closed was one of the first ones I composed. I kept it saved for as long as I could. In June 2017, while at Coke Studio I played the instrumental along with others for my album to producer Sketchy Bongo. He exclaimed that the instrumental alone sounded like a hit and suggested I get in touch with Kaien Cruz since they have a working relationship. I sent the music to her and she wrote her parts. When I received her vocals, I started mixing the song and got it mastered. Just before I released it last year, Oneal Africa one of my good friends and a DJ suggested there should be a rap feature to make the song more exciting. I had been checking out Big Star’s work so I reached out to him. We got in the studio one afternoon and penned the verse for Eyes Closed.
7) What is the message behind Eyes Closed?
- The song to me is a taste of the sounds that you can expect to hear from my next releases. The song itself talks about seeing someone you love(including yourself) achieving their best and mastering their craft which you can describe with the words “Doing it with my eyes closed”.
“The ideas I make in the studio are valuable in coming up with creative ideas for any live show or tv project I might be working on”
8) You work on many different projects as a music director & producer, how do you find it working in studio making music compared to working as a director?
- There is no comparing music directing and music production, each vocation is an extension of the other. Being an effective Music Director means you either need to be a great Arranger, music producer or composer. My strength is producing music and arranging. So, being in the studio is the thing that gives me the edge as a music director. The ideas I make in the studio are valuable in coming up with creative ideas for any live show or tv project I might be working on.
9) Whats next for 37mph? Can we expect more music maybe an album from you in the future?
- I am working on a body of work. The current working title is #BOATS “Based on a true story” but I’m not in a hurry to announce any release dates just yet but I have three singles in my outbox that are ready for release. You’re welcome to stay locked on my socials: @37mph on twitter, instagram, YouTube and Facebook for regular updates.
10) Thank you for koolin out with us man! Any last words
- Thank you for taking the time to ask me these questions and support the culture. Please follow me on my socials lots of exciting content coming your way.
Eyes Closed is available for download HERE.