‘Hotstix’ Mabuse Shares His Recipe For Success With Young Creatives

We all have our own story to tell, the story that links us to our community and helps us connect to the world. Vuma’s My Community Cooks initiative, in partnership with the Soweto Wine and Food Festival, allowed 30 of Soweto’s most gifted creatives to share their stories, knowledge, and experiences through an intimate masterclass with one of South Africa’s music greats, Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse. The workshop saw Mabuse share his experience in the industry, how he earned the nickname ‘Hotstix’, and advice for aspiring artists.

“The purpose of this initiative is not only to amplify the visibility of undiscovered talent but also to expose them to South African icons like Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse,” says Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vuma. “By creating platforms for and initiating conversations and creating connections, we can empower and encourage the country’s creative talent to achieve the extraordinary.”

Take time to master your craft 

Mabuse, whose career spans decades, says artists who want to create a lasting career in the industry need to be ambitious, make sacrifices, and dedicate their time and energy to mastering their craft. “My ambition is what drove me to excel in my craft. I would practice for hours on end to hone my skills, and it paid off,” says Mabuse.

“Because I was so used to practising on my own, I was able to play a 25-minute drum solo at an event after a power outage prevented the band from performing. That solo earned me the name ‘Hotstix’.”

Don’t be afraid to break the mould

Mabuse believes young creatives need to focus on breaking the mould. “South Africa is probably the only country that can produce such a wide variety of music genres. But sometimes we narrow our ability to develop and grow our creativity.”

Using Amapiano music, the hybrid genre of deep house and lounge music as an example, Mabuse says everyone seems to be following this new music trend instead of drawing inspiration from that creativity to create new genres of music that are just as exciting.

Be open to reinvention

The Burn Out hitmaker says he owes his decades in the music industry to his ability to transform himself and find ways to stay relevant, including often sitting down with young creatives so he can figure out how the music industry has evolved.

“It’s important to be open to learning new things all the time. I would love to sit down with the creators of Amapiano music and learn more about this genre, maybe ask them why they felt they should call it ‘Amapiano’, especially considering that I can’t hear the piano in the music.”

Explore other escapes, besides alcohol and drugs

Mabuse acknowledges that the creative industry can be challenging but encourages creatives to avoid using alcohol or drugs as an escape. “I’ve seen alcoholism, first-hand, numerous times, especially with great musicians.”

Instead, Mabuse focused on sports to get him through life’s difficulties and encourages creatives to choose more positive ways of addressing their stress. “There are tons of other outlets out there. In my case, sports became my drug and would numb whatever challenges I faced.”

Don’t do it for the fame

Driven by a dream to better himself, Mabuse returned to high school when he was 60. He advises young aspiring creatives to adopt the same mindset and enter the industry to share their unique story, improve themselves, and leave a legacy, and not chase fame.

“It’s important for artists to remain grounded and not go into the industry for the fame because no matter what’s happening today, you could find yourself in a very different position tomorrow. This industry is unpredictable. It makes you famous today and flushes you out tomorrow.”

By shining a spotlight on creative icons like Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, Vuma’s My Community Cooks encourages young South Africans to showcase their talents and reach for the extraordinary.

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