Behind the success of winning artistes such as Gazza, The Dogg, Tate Buti, PDK, Lady May and Promise is a man whose name is rarely said. The very few that speak of him, know him as ‘Glo’, a name which became popular after the release of Gazza’s Afro-dance song ‘Seelima’ in 2011.
Those in the industry often credit Glo for the success of ‘Tormentos’ by The Dogg featuring Sunny Boy and Brikz. Glo’s name is also attached to the success of the ‘Ayoba’, a track by Ees featuring South African artiste Mandoza. Ironically, all three tracks were released around 2011.
It is also said Glo has been the man behind all the sought-after albums that Tate Buti and PDK released in the period between 2012 and 2014. And he is responsible for Promise album ‘Tanauka’ that was released in 2014.
So New Era Weekend went in search of this Glo, to find out who exactly is this man and what does he do to musicians’ songs that they become market hit songs that have shebeen jukeboxes across the country wailing at full blast 24/7.
We found Glo in a home studio – a house in which one room has been converted into a studio. Lo and behold, Glo is actually not just a producer but a music writer as well.
And it turns out Glo’s real name is Solani Zulu, a 34-year-old sound engineer, who entered the music industry to strictly entertain a hobby. He had held full-time jobs first working for NamPost and later for Namibia Airports Company. Only to quit his job in 2008 when he realised that the hobby is not only giving him joy but also fattening his wallet better than his day job.
The property housing the studio, in the corner of Jenner and Pasteur streets in Windhoek West, is an artistic hive. It is a mixed dwelling it seems, with living quarters as well as a visual art studio and music studio in which we found Glo, the elusive legendary music writer and producer.
It is at this address that one would find Antonio’s Art studio by Namibian Yugoslavian Dragan Bozidar Dzokic, and, on any given day would bump into the big name in the music industry such as Tate Buti, Chikune, Female Donkey and Arafat. Milling around or going in and out would be up and coming musicians, producers, choreographers, dancers, visual artists, designers or models.
“Producing is something that I always wanted to do, although it only started as a joke at a time when I listened to Western music,” says Glo, leaning back in his chair, surrounded by keyboards, computer monitors and other instruments.
Glo started his hobby way back in 2001, imagining himself morphing into a Namibian version of Quincy Jones and Dr Dre. In his imaginary world, then, he was going to be this big music writer and producer.
The transformation came after he realised that the money he made from the beats that he was making in his spare time – he would sell the beats to musicians and other artists – could actually sustain him.
Born in Lusaka, Zambia, and later relocating to Namibia, Glo grew up in Windhoek. He did his primary education at the People’s Primary School in Windhoek and completed his secondary school at Jan Jonker High School.
Glo describes himself as a music producer, composer and director, and regards his works as unique from other producers locally. “How I grew up plays a role on the music that I produced,” he says. He came from a devout church-going family in which music was an important element. He also played in different jazz amateur bands. That, combined with his hunger to constantly sample different music genres, has contributed to his creative style.
Although Glo has never won any award for his works, he says winning an award is a vanity that does not discourage him to continue working hard.
“My works are all over the streets, bars and cars. All I can say is that, my work is people-friendly and I am not focusing on achieving awards. But I hope one day I will get recognised for my hard work,” says Glo.
This year, Glo made another headline when he and his partners, visual artist and music promoter Dragan and music producer Arrafath Muhure, started My Ongoma Media, a company targeting female artistes.
“By creating this company, we wanted to bring unity and peace among female musicians and for them to start working together,” he says of why they chose to target women artistes.
Glo also opines that the reason Namibian artistes are not progressing as musicians is because they are divided, with each musician always branching out to start his own record label.
“When you want to start a foundation, you need to break a lock, that is why we decided to start with female musicians first, despite their differences and issues,” explains Glo.
Glo is also working on different projects one of which is Promise’s new album. The single track, ‘Dogo Dogo’, which was released last week, and currently enjoying massive airplay and attracting more viewers on social media, is part of the album in the works.
“By now, the song is standing at 14 788 views on You Tube, which shows a great initiative,” says Glo.
Glo is also working on the new album of Tate Buti, PDK, DJ Siya and for upcoming artistes such as Monique English, Doris, and Chikune, all to be released by the end of the year. “God gave me all the strength to have such a huge responsibility,” he says of his projects.
His advice to upcoming music producers: “You need to stay focused and do well in your education as education is the key to success. Even if you want to be a producer, you need to study sound engineering.”