Most unemployed youth roam the streets aimlessly as if with a lost hope for life. Every once in a while when they can, they are inebriated of the alcohol whose origin only them can tell.
However, same cannot be said of a group of music fanatics from Ha Mabote in the outskirts of the Berea district. This is Origin,a band of impervious music loving young people with a unique style of music coupled with youthful vibes to spice up the industry.
Founded in 2017, the band that is made up of six members, three of which form part of the founding members, namely, Liphapang Lebata (Vocalist), Teboho Lemeke (pianist), Karabo Phama (Vocalist). There was also Lerato Majara (vocalist) and Khothatso Mokokoropo (vocalist) who left the group as time went on due to personal reasons.
As their journey continued, three others joined the band Samkelo Zwane (bass guitarist), Mosh Moliko (drummer) and Molise Maleu (guitarist).
The musical assemble has built its name to be recognised amongst the top bands in the country over the past three years.
They started out as friends who loved music inspired by the spirit of family.
As Phama explained “we met at church during the service as most of us served in the church band, there would also be night prayers for the youth and other youth events. That is where we kept realizing our common interest which is music hence we decided to pursue it,” he recalled.
One of the founding members Majara has since left the band to pursue a solo career. While Kokoropo decided to take a break from the music industry.
According Lemeke, Khothatso’s decision came as blow to the band but they had to understand and let her go due to complications with her family.
“We had no choice but to understand because her family felt she was just fooling around while they wanted her to focus on her studies,” Lemeke said.
“It brought about tough decisions because the back and forth was a bit frustrating for us even though we would want her to still be part of us”
The versatile band dabbles in Afro-pop and jazz as Moliko reiterates “We like to believe our sound is more of Afropop with a fusion of jazz and a bit of hip hop,” he said.
The band eventually got their big break in 2019 when they were part of the first ever Step-Up competition, a music talent search. They were the music directors and coaches of the contestants throughout the competition which was won by Tamia Phooko.
According, Lebata, what sets the band apart from the rest is the new energy they possess and the new way of seeing and doing things.
“Being a young people band, we come with fresh ideas, and in some instances we fuse the old with the new and come up with an entirely new sound,” he said.
And Phama added that “there is a difference between a band and people who just came together because they know different instruments, we have built a band from nothing to something, and we have a mindset of molding a person. For instance we did not have any established member in our band, in the beginning until this point”
The group of young minds with a passion for music has taken a different approach to music. Despite most of them being tertiary graduates, they have decided to do music full time. This means they live and breathe music.
With laughter, Moliko explained that “Origin is our nine to five and that also is our uniqueness. We realised that if we wanted this to take us somewhere, we should at least give it our all,”
They say amongst the biggest challenges they had to face and eventually win over, was convincing their parents about that decision of doing music full time
“When you do what you love and commit to it, eventually it pays off. It was a bit tricky for us at first to convince our parents because expectations were high after most us graduated.
“Our biggest breakthrough with the Step Up contract eased our parents’ conscience and allayed their fears while also giving us a huge boost. It was a lucrative contract which brought us enough capital to buy our equipment then that’s when the parents saw how serious we were about the band,” explained Phama.
As much as every journey of life has challenges, be it personal or professional life the band members agreed on the fact that they are all driven by passion for their art. They maintain most of the challenges they faced have helped shape and build their character.
Inspired by the South African eclectic soulful style of music, origin looks to take over the Southern region of Africa with their harmonic sound.
Amongst other things the band has achieved to date is being part of Everything Live, a platform created to appreciate local musos who have paved the way for the current generation. They are also part of Project Qamako, a network created to promote circulation of currency in the country through exchange of services amongst the youth.
They have recently recorded a single titled “Sebetsa Moshana” which was launched on the 3 October at a packed Café what, in Maseru.
“SebetsaMoshana has done wonders for us; those who did not know about us, now have an idea. It is a song meant to inspire those who are hustling and working hard in pursuit of their dreams,” Lebata said.
The band says their journey was not smooth but they took every challenge as a lesson.
“Surprisingly we don’t have anything we can refer to as a challenge since we took all of them as lessons. We have never been broke yet we are owed by a lot of promoters and event’s organizers, we were robbed however we were blessed through all that,” explained Lemeke who is also the band’s songwriter.
With an obvious male dominated band, the members said they never intended for it to be like that however explained that in such settings the moment genders start working together, there are always clashes which result in the difference of effort and commitment when things get tough.
“Our journey was all God’s doing that things become this way. At the beginning we had ladies but they couldn’t withstand the pressures of a band and the industry demands,” explained Karabo.
With the impact of covid-19 outbreak felt across all walks of life, especially in the entertainment industry, Origin says the pandemic was more like a blessing in disguise for them as it brought them closer than before.
“I would say we took the lockdowns brought by the covid as a blessing to us; it strengthened our purpose and vision. We made a decision to go into studio and start working on our long overdue Extended Play (EP) and the single SebetsaMoshana. In actual fact I would say it brought us more success” said Lebata.
Lesotho Annual Sports Awards 19, AfriSki Gin & Jazz as well as Step Up make the list of events they have had the honor of performing at.
The band is currently working on their debut EP which they say they hope officially introduces them to the world. Their expectation is to release it by December this year.
Moliko said they are not signed by any record label and would want to keep it that way.
“Not being signed is liberating as a creative because you have the freedom to do things your way with no restrictions. It can be challenging sometimes in terms of certain things that require outsourcing services,” he said.
One of their biggest aspirations is to grace the Lesotho Tourism Festival (LETOFE) and the Mbombela Jazz Festival.