Behind the Scenes of SXSW: Queen of Gqom Moonchild Sanelly Redefines Female Empowerment Through Music
When you have a conversation with singer and dancer Moonchild Sanelly, you can’t help but feel her contagious energy. Hailing from South Africa, Moonchild has collaborated with artists such as Beyoncé, Diplo, and Gorillaz. From her funky, fun blue-hued hair (which is inspired by a mop) and inimitable style sense to her punchy rapid-fire lyrics, Moonchild sets herself apart from the industry both visually and musically. Gqom, a genre of electronic music stemming from South Africa, is part of her bass-heavy rhythmic signature sound that comes to life on stage. During the peak of SXSW, EDITION sat down with Moonchild to discuss her influences, forthcoming new music, and what female empowerment means to her.
See more: 10 Acts You Need to Catch at SXSW 2022
So, first off, what do you think of SXSW so far?
I'm loving it. I love SXSW! The difference this time is I’m no longer acting alone. I'm acting with the team, and I have official shows. I really love the fact that you can get into so much music, whether you know what you're going to do or not. You can bump into the coolest band. It's just beautiful and just pure art.
I love it. So, getting into your music, you are undeniably the queen of gqom. So, for someone unaware of gqom, what is that music genre? And what does it mean to you?
Gqom is freaking awesome! I love the drums. It gives me that feeling like I'm in this underground dungeon, and it's just like 50 people and just losing your sh-t. No rules, you know? It's so free. It hits hard. You don't even have to understand what's happening. You don't have to have the lyrics. It's just a vibe. I love it because I'm an energy person. The music gives me the feels. It gets me jumping around. There's no way I could ever do a full set standing. I’d probably twerk. I generally twerk. It’s just beautiful energy.
I'm glad you helped me pronounce gqom! So, what other influences do you draw from with your music?
I write a lot of stories, and I generally only listen to myself and Beyoncé. Usually, I just listen to one album forever. So I'm just like, ‘Okay, I hope I don't get disappointed if I listen to the new one’ because I guess it's the controlling part of me. So, my biggest things, first and foremost, are always liberation, animation, and sex. So, the sex part is cute and not overt. It’s like Snow White turns 21, and the seven dwarves become her strippers.
That’s an analogy! So, with it being Women's History Month, I feel like the vibe you're exuding is confidence. So, in what ways do you feel like you're empowering women as an artist?
Firstly, by being a successful, single, bad bitch, and making money from the actual dream. So, that's the first part – everything is possible. I live my life. I can date a boy or girl. They’re never surprised about my sexuality because I've just been myself so much that there's nothing that surprises them. It’s Moonchild. So, it’s something they've obviously had to learn on their own because I have been rejected for being this person. I have had to fight for being this person. So, I’m winning as a person now. So, just knowing you're a bad bitch, not needing a partner.
So, with that in mind, what advice would you give someone that might be struggling with their self-esteem?
You can literally change what you don't like or change your mind because it’s all about change. You can change how you look at yourself. When you look at yourself from up, and you look down, you’re already looking down on yourself. So, maybe look at yourself and use those affirmation things. They sound ridiculous, but they’re a real thing. You have to learn to love yourself at some point because the world will always have something to say. You’re either too skinny or too big, too everything – just be yourself. If you don’t, a man will make it feel like it's a favor to love you. You’re going to take it because you don't love yourself. So, get it together and love yourself.
My last question pertains to your plans for the balance of the year. A little birdie told me that you have new music coming out. Are you able to speak about it?
I do have an album coming out soon. I've got so many singles that I’ve been dropping. I've been dropping two singles every single month since last year. So, I’ve been having singles and music videos, and that's all the stuff that's going to be in the album. I’m dropping “Strip Club” with Ghetts, and it’s celebrating strippers. The whole thing with my album this time around it's not necessarily serving to reach women that society deems as successful; instead, it’s to reach women that are proud of what they have – whether they are a stripper, choose to be a side chick, choose to be bad bitch, or whatever way celebrating everyone because it's already hard enough to have a vagina in the world. So, why make it harder by judging each other?