Thato Jessica Botswana’s Rising Star
She is based in South Africa and will release her debut album this year
By Ryan Blumton
In this Echo exclusive we take a look at the work, life and artistic philosophy of the currently South Africa based twenty-seven-year-old Motswana singer/songwriter extraordinaire Thato Jessica Mataboge.
Jessica combines RnB and Hip Hop, having made a string of successful singles and collaborations. Jessica has announced that 2021 is the year that she is working on her debut album, adding that she feels privileged about her journey so far and confident in her readiness.
“I will be releasing my album this year and I am super excited and I hope that people will love it as much as I do.”
Jessica is originally from a village called Mapoka but grew up in Gaborone. She is currently living in Johannesburg pursuing her dreams as an architect, designer and musician.
Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Botswana. “I began to fully embrace music at the age of 16. When I was in Form 2 in Moselewapula there was an art club where we were urged to demonstrate any talents. I sang and everyone was amazed. That was when I discovered music as what I love and what I am good at.”
Having performed on South African stages and made multiple appearances on South African Television channels she says, “I would not say that I have performed or been exposed to the level where I am fully in the industry here because obviously there is a lot of work that comes with that especially being from outside of South Africa. It is a tightly knit industry in which to make connections.”
Moreover, she added that for obvious reasons the South African entertainment industry is bigger due to the larger population and that South Africa is the hub of a lot of the content that is spread across the continent.
“It’s a different market, more competitive and it requires being the best of your best and you need to believe that you are the best of your best in order to stand out from similar acts.” Jessica said.
She feels that the South African market is important in the sense that there has to be a focal point for entertainment in regions: “We can make examples from every continent, there is always a city or country that stands out in terms of entertainment. It just makes it easier for content creating, so obviously it’s not the same as Botswana because Botswana has fewer people but I think being in close proximity with the South African market gives us an advantage to be able to reach the rest of the continent and the world.”
She is currently refining what she wants her brand to stand for ideally through expressing herself in every way, shape or form. She has always wanted to bring together the idea of blending pop music with contemporary art and design, an infused brand for creativeness.
“I decided to incorporate body art into my brand image because I thought that this is a way to mark and express my love for visual art and express my interest for other forms of creativity.’ Jessica said.
Her favorite part about being an artist is hearing from people who have connected with your music as it validates your expression as an artist and more so that it gives hope, drive and passion to keep going.
‘When I get feedback and personal experiences tied to music that I make I recall the times as I was starting out when I was driving back to my village listening to Brenda Fassie and that music becomes a soundtrack for those memories, to me going back home with my family. So the fact that my music is able to tie into people’s everyday life experiences or to remind people of something or evoke some type of feeling, that’s the most important and precious thing that you can experience as an artist and I don’t take that for granted, when it happens I am in awe and humbled that something I created has touched another person.” she said.
She believes that a good artist needs to have networking and that a good artist needs to understand the crowd, which is also a part of networking, understanding the people that you are making the music for.
“You need to have some sense of understanding of melody. You can have a great message and approach to speak to the crowd but if it’s not some that people can dance to or cry to then it becomes difficult.” She added.
She said that artists need to identify their specialty, in terms of evoking a certain emotion but obviously should not box themselves in. Jessica aims to bring some sense of healing, faith and hope through her own music.
She said that she is hopeful that her own brand will come not only to represent audio art but physical and visual art as well the better to relate to people.
“I hope to achieve an international platform, specifically through the United States as it has the biggest market and also throughout the African continent through establishing connections in Nigeria and South Africa to place myself on a bigger platform,” She added.