Zambian artist Bacci is sitting in a chair, his hair dyed the colour red and his eyes are closed.

Bacci Takes the Wheel in New Video, “AUTO”

Introducing the neo-soul artist bringing Zambia’s next wave to the world.

by Daniel McIntosh

Photo by Maingaila Sekeleti Muvundika

Hailing from Lusaka, 25-year-old singer-songwriter Bacci developed an interest in creating music while performing with his church choir as a child. Representing the next wave of Zambian music, Bacci takes inspiration from a careful blend of 90s R&B and early-aughts alt-rock. On his latest video single, “AUTO,” the inspiration shines through in the emotionally-resonant lyrics. Of the cathartic release, Bacci says it was written about “someone who didn’t know what they wanted. It triggered a lot of uncertainty for me and my emotions were always all over the place because of that.”

RANGE is excited to present the video premiere for “AUTO.” The video features Bacci and a crew of stylish friends simply enjoying the day tailgating and doing donuts. The scenery projects good times, while the song chastises a lover for putting up walls. Featuring a verse from fellow Zambian hip-hop artist, K.R.Y.T.I.C., the track puts Bacci’s falsetto to good use over a cool beat, perfect for cruising. Tap into our interview below to hear the rising singer’s take on Zambia’s new wave, singing in English, and his vision for his forthcoming debut.

What inspired you to start writing music?

My elder sister, Etambuyu. She used to write music on her keyboard when I was little and I loved her jam sessions. And then later on as a teenager, stuck in boarding school, writing became a tool for self-expression and healing during those formative years. 

Can you tell us some of your musical influences? What were you listening to growing up?

I listened to a lot of 90s and 00s R&B like Brandy, Joe Thomas, Tevin Campbell, and Toni Braxton. On the flip side, my siblings had an unhealthy collection of alternative rock too, like Linkin Park, Avril Lavigne, and Evanescence. I feel these two genres are what really shaped my sound. 

The lyrics of “AUTO” are very personal. Can you let us in on the inspiration behind them?

I was in a talking stage with someone and they were always high. I never seemed to get through to them because of that. It felt like I was talking to a wall half the time. It’s like, what are we doing exactly? That really upset me because they claimed to like me as much as I liked them but acted otherwise. They always wanted to be around me but the smoking made them anxious and I’d have to comfort them. I got tired of being a parent so I distanced myself before there was dependency on me to provide therapy and fix them. They were always trying to take stuff from me. Money, clothes, food… whatever. I let it happen because I thought it would make me more desirable but it really just put my emotions on “AUTO.” 

Can you tell us a bit about some of the challenges that you face as an artist in Lusaka?

Lusaka, and Zambia in general, is going through an awakening. We’re starting to realize the value and importance of art. Especially the younger artists because they’re more self aware and have more to talk about. But we still haven’t quite gotten to a point where art is accepted in all its forms. For example, some people don’t really vibe with my music because I write and sing in English. Which for me, is a tool to help me reach those international audiences. They choose to see it as a misrepresentation of Zambian art. It’s like, I was born and raised here, speaking and writing English practically my whole life. I am Zambian and an artist. Why am I being excluded from that representation? 

What’s the perfect way to spend a day in Lusaka?

I’ve just recently learned how to not always be working so I wouldn’t exactly know. But to go to an art gallery with my aesthete/misfit friends and talk about the complexities of life, healing each other’s trauma sounds like a vibe to me. Of course gin would be involved. Haha. 

What do you like to do when you’re not making music?

I believe I’m a multidimensional artist. I run an instagram thrift store where I sell clothes that I up-cycled as well as style clients. I binge watch fashion videos (mostly sewing tutorials) on YouTube.  I do graphic design. I self-study/practice screenwriting and filmmaking. I practice 3D modelling because I think NFTs are the future and I wanna hop on that wave before it’s too late. And lastly, I self-study Astrology and spirituality in general.

Who are some other artists from Zambia you think we should be excited about?

My friend Talé Sheezy has an EP coming out on the same Vancouver-based label and management company I’m on. He’s an exceptional artist pushing boundaries and changing the narrative. I particularly enjoy his dedication to expressing his music visually. 

Chuck Van Dusty is another fave. His music is so different but he has some really strong stories to tell about life, existential crises, and the complexities of growing pains in an environment such as Zambia that doesn’t support artists’ growth well. 

Tehillah J, Menace ZM and Uchii are also young artists on the come up with that new wave Zambian sound that just excites me because it’s fresh and innovative. 

Who are some of the artists that you currently look up to?

Solange: her mind is just downright beautiful. SZA and Frank Ocean are super experimental with their music but still communicate vulnerability in the most honest way.  Rihanna is getting her bag with the fashion industry. FKA Twigs has a niche cult following and to me it seems as though she has full creative control over her work and that’s beautiful to me. 

For your soon to be international fans, what are some things that you want people to know about you – as both a person and an artist?

For some reason, people don’t seem to know how much work I put into my craft. They seem to think I have it easy and just get lucky. I produce and write all my music, I graphic design most of the imagery you see and now recently become more involved in music video production. 

Also, I’m quite spiritual. And I talk about manifestation and the law of attraction and protecting one’s energy currency in my forthcoming project too. I believe we live in a matrix. One where our souls are supposed to learn Karmic lessons we didn’t quite learn in our past lives. That’s basically how I live my life. 

We’re excited for your forthcoming album! Can you tell us what to expect?

I’m excited too! It’s been a long time coming. AQUA ALIEN is basically a few pages from my diary the past couple of years. Experiences I had in love and romance, realizations about myself and the world we live in as well as mantras to keep going. I did my best to try and create a sonically cohesive body of work because I struggle to stay in people’s little boxes.

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