“I liked that it's a song that was not necessarily what people would expect from us: a sad, trauma-mining ballad. Instead I wanted us to make a banger.”
Today, Nakhane (they/them), the multi-disciplinary artist and musician from South Africa, has released their new single “Do You Well” featuring Perfume Genius.
Produced by Emre Türkmen with additional production by Nile Rodgers, “Do You Well” is a sonic oasis of nu-disco, funk, and electronic sounds. Decorating the track’s hedonistic and libidinous spirit are thumping basslines and synth chords reminiscent of Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder’s work. Unabashedly communicating feelings of lust and longing, the lyrics detail one’s desire to bear witness to their lover’s body in its full and bountiful glory.
Speaking on the song’s inspiration, Nakhane says: “Parts of the lyrics were a humorous take on how deceptive club lighting can be. We all look a little different under those strobes lights. I was making fun of myself, and turned that metaphor into something literal and somewhat base.”
Following in the footsteps of their previous single “Tell Me Your Politik,” “Do You Well” finds Nakhane mining underground club subcultures for high-energy territory with a marked focus on. Contributing guest vocals on the track is acclaimed avant-garde musician Perfume Genius.
Noting the assumptions a collaboration with an artist like Perfume Genius would reap, Nakhane says: “I always thought singing with him would be a beautiful thing. I liked that it's a song that was not necessarily what people would expect from us: a sad, trauma-mining ballad. Instead I wanted us to make a banger.”
The accompanying visual is the manifestation of a concept fully formed by Nakhanethemself with direction by Jordan Rossi (Years & Years, MNEK, Craig David, Griff). The video hones in on the mutual infatuation and apprehension between two Black queer bodies. The narrative is split between Nakhane and their love interest wrestling while also submitting to their desire for one another.
Of the “Do You Well” video, Nakhane says: “I wanted to explore the intersection of violence and sensuality, the dance of courting someone before you actually have sex with them. It was inspired by a lot of gay-themed films, where we normally see characters wrestling with their inner dialogue before they give in to their desires. So I said why not make that wrestling literal? Of course the inspiration for that was how homoerotic wrestling is”.
“Do You Well” marks Nakhane’s first piece of new material since the July release of “Tell Me Your Politik” featuring Moonchild Sanelly and Nile Rodgers.Nowness called it “Mutually political and erotic…a call to action demanding that prospective lovers be ideologically aligned before partaking in sexual trysts. Fierce, urgent and defiantly lacking subtlety, Nakhane is resolute in the idea that sex is a political act.”
Nakhane also recently returned to the stage to deliver a bespoke and grandiose performance in collaboration with acclaimed British-Kenyan artist and painterMichael Armitage at White Cube Gallery. A long-time muse of Armitage’s, Nakhane performed a piece in response to his exhibition titled “Amongst The Living.” Alongside Keir Adamson, they created 35 minutes of music spanning reworkings of older songs, unreleased music, improvisation, and cover versions of music by Miriam Makeba.
Nakhane’s 2019 album You Will Not Die was deemed “unforgettable” (FADER), and was released to global acclaim. In a profile story, The New York Times said thatYou Will Not Die “ponders faith, pleasure, exile and belonging as they traverse hymns, neo-soul, South African pop and electronic dance music.” See more praise below, and keep an eye out for more coming from Nakhane soon.