A Conversation with Tanaka "Ects" Chuma: Talking Spoken Word, Music and his Creative Journey

Born out of a desire to exorcise the conflicting emotions he felt as a teenager, Tanaka "Ects" Chuma has been writing for over a decade. What started with the pen at the age of 17, has grown to encompass other art forms of storytelling. Still ever-evolving, Tanaka's expression of himself now encompasses Spoken Word, Traditional Music and hip-hop. He is now not only a recording dub poet and songwriter but a guitarist too.

A Conversation with Tanaka "Ects" Chuma
Tanaka "Ects" Chuma

Tanaka's stage name "Ects" comes from a play on the initials of his full name, Tanaka Effort Chuma. He has released four studio albums to date: Ndabuda Mugaba, Chomunzira Famba, Seiko Chahunga and Zvinotevera Tanaka. The poet and songwriter was a top-10 finalist for the Start Brite competition in 2016, he had a second-place finish at the Lafarge Poetry Slam in 2018 and in 2020 he was nominated for Outstanding Spoken Word Artist at the NAMA Awards.

Tanaka currently balances his music career with thrifting and collaborations with designers as a way to supplement his income. Yet he's ever confident in the impact he can make.

We caught up with the poet and songwriter a while back for the short interview below:

How did you get into poetry and music?

So I got into poetry and music as a way of documenting my emotions and state of mind. I started off as a poet evolving to the stage I am now.

Did you immediately find it easy to put words into poems? And has the way you write changed over the years?

With art, it's a continuous practice and perfection. The first poem I penned is obviously different from the second and the third. Adding up with the years it has changed, and I'm looking forward to more changes that come with growing in it.

How have you found the transition from poetry to songwriting?

I didn't feel the transition much because music is poetry written before it meets melody or rhythm. Hence hip-hop is rhythm and poetry.

Have you found any major differences between the Music space and the Spoken Word space in Zimbabwe?

Yeah there is, probably because poetry has a niche market. Same as some traditional music under the same category that's not commercial.

How did you learn how to play the guitar and was this inspired by the poetry or you were already interested in playing it?

I dreamt about it and avoided it for 2 years the dream, and then during the lockdown the craving just got real, so I learnt guitar during the first lockdown of the COVID era.

I taught myself most parts because it was a lockdown and I produced my third album with guitar, which was the first the following year.

What inspires your particular sound in music?

My sound is inspired by originality, bringing something new into the spaces. Of course, driven by the sphere of influence I have as a Zimbabwean.

Out of your 4 albums which one would you recommend for someone who's never listened to you and why?

I highly recommend my first album (Ndabuda Mugaba) because it's a raw album. To understand me better coming forth

What has kept you motivated during your journey?

The desire to share a message and speak out for those who can't speak for themselves, and knowing that I have shared a message that people appreciate like I always say, even if I die today people will forever talk about my potential, if I have reached where I need to. So I am much more motivated by the legacy left after I am gone.

What has been your biggest obstacle?

Financials. It's always an obstacle to most artists but if you love the dream you gotta be creative to make it work no matter what.

What do you see as the future for "Ects" as an artist?

Being a household name to represent Zimbabwe in terms of culture preservation. Everyone conscious is going to vibe to my state of mind at some point in life and some testimonies I will hear some I won't but it's always flowers wherever they are.

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