Interview With Stephen Gawking aka The Nuclear Lyricist - Motivational Ballito Artists With Progressive Neuromuscular Disease Releasing Music To Inspire
By Underground Press
Published Monday, 02 October 2023 12:19
For those unfamiliar with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), please can you share insights about your condition, and the challenges this poses for you as an Artist making music?
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a disorder affecting the motor neurons—nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement. These cells are located in the spinal cord. Because the muscles cannot respond to signals from the nerves, they atrophy and weaken over time. I have Type 2 and Patients with type 2 who achieve the milestone of sitting unsupported, but never walk independently. Symptoms generally appear between 6 to 18 months after birth and most patients will survive past the age of 25, with life expectancy improved by aggressive supportive care. Deciding to pursue this dream/project is not just an outlet but has also given me a sense of purpose and therefore the challenges that come with my disability in terms of making music is nothing, living in the technological era of today makes everything possible even for severely disabled people.
When did your love and passion for music start, and when did you discover your special gift and talent for using music to inspire and motivate?
Well, I always played around with words in terms of writing poems/rhymes, etc. And also in a separate capacity played around with music as a hobby. One day I just realised that maybe I should try to combine the two into one project with the aim to motivate and inspire other people that feel trapped in life. As one living with a progressive neuromuscular disorder I know all about that.
Your name is so unique and unusual, it warrants the question of how you got to choose and use it, and the meaning behind it.
Yeah, it's a play on Stephen Hawking who is/was probably one of the most well-known disabled people in history and as a disabled person myself I thought it's fitting to honour him in that way, as for the "Nuclear Lyricist" I mainly want to focus strongly on powerful/meaningful lyricism, I feel that lyricism is being underrepresented these days, especially in the mainstream.
Being an Artist today is tougher than ever, so our sincerest respect to you for all your efforts and achievements so far. What has been the secret to pursuing your career goals in music to date?
I really appreciate you saying that, because that is ultimately what motivates me. I want to earn respect not just as an artist but as a person in general and in turn inspire others to do the same. It's all about persistence and surrounding yourself with the right people. I feel like the ones that do it for the right reasons and are fully committed will ultimately make it in time, which is very difficult for an instant gratification generation.
You collaborated with phenomenal Artists to date who are as musically diverse as they are superbly talented. You are quoted as saying 'you feel like Nick Fury assembling the Avengers' in your drive to release unique songs with a great team and message to inspire. Who all have your collaborated with, how did you meet them, and what can we look forward to as future collaborations?
Yeah, we have so much talent in SA and working with them is so rewarding. Auctavia, Gazelle, HemelBesem, Loufi, Kat, Eduan, Kulax, just to name a few. Networking is important for all ventures/projects, Bobby Johnson, Devo Oosthuizen, Loren Smith and Christiaan Steyn has helped me a lot in that regard. We are currently working on few other singles that are all in different phases of production but the next one released will most probably be a collaboration with Aewon Wolf titled “Demons & Disorders” which we are very excited about.
You are a proud supporter of Rugby, and everything our beautiful Rainbow Nation has to offer. Who are your biggest local inspirations and why?
Yeah, I just love this country and everything it. Yes, we have our struggles and obstacles but yet we keep going because we cannot give up. Our difficulties have moulded us in a way that other people in first world countries would never really understand. We embrace dark times with dark humour and by dark times I mean literally, thanks to Eskom lol. Go check out "South African Living" on Facebook or YouTube and you will see what I mean lol. We have a lot of bad and yet we still produce not just good, but greatness. Madiba, Trevor Noah, Charlize Theron, Black Coffee, Desmond Tutu, Chris Barnard, Chad le Clos, Wayde van Niekerk, Dricus du Plessis, Zozibini Tunzi, Rolene Strauss, Koos Bekker, Giniel de Villiers, Gary Player, The Bokke and all our other sport teams, District 9 and Tsotsi's whole team behind them. Master KG, Mandoza, Nasty C, Stogie T, and the list goes on and on, also let's not forget that Elon Musk was born and raised in SA till the age of 18.
Do you believe we will be able to see you live on stage with your collaboration artists in the future, and any plans for a Live Festival perhaps?
I don't see myself performing on stage like other DJ / Producers, It'll be more of an Andrew Lloyd Webber-type vibe where I am like a behind-the-scenes event/show producer with the ultimate goal of a music and arts festival, everything under the 'Stephen Gawking' brand.
Who are your all-time favourite Artists, and also which new Artists are your favourite we should take a listen to?
There are way to many to name, but from Leon Schuster in the 90s, then Robbie Wessels in the early 2000s, but the most influential local artist for me was Jack Parow, by far. Internationally, it's from Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kanye West, Childish Gambino, Tyler the creator, Black Eyed Peas to Kid Cudi. I also have to mention King Los; he is, in my opinion, the best word player/rapper/lyricist in the world, I also have massive admiration and respect for artists/bands that keep going and have been relevant for years like Drake, Ed Sheeran, Pink, Taylor Swift, etc. As for the new artists, I can't really name names because again there are too many but in terms of genres and movements I like where Afrikaans, Amapiano, Afropop, and Afrobeats are going.
Please share insights with us on your latest Single and Lyric Video 'Andria The Angelic'
'Andria The Angelic' is a tribute to my sister, Andria, who passed away in 1994 at the age of 5. Andria had Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Type 1, a more progressive type than the one I have, the song is a reflection on the impact that her death had on us as a family. The song is also a message of hope and resilience, and a reminder that even in the face of tragedy, there is always beauty to be found even though we may lose loved ones, they will always be with us in our hearts, something that is universally relatable because it speaks to the universal human experience of loss and grief. All of the featured artist came on board with the help of Bobby Johnson (Co-Producer) and Devo Oosthuizen (PR Manager at Devographic Music Agency) after hearing the pitch and meaning behind the song, bringing everything together beautifully.
What message and advice can you share with other Artists looking to make a similar difference and impact with their music?
Persistence is key, network with other artists and people in the industry and learn as much as possible from them, earn respect and like I said if you do it for the right reasons and with passion you will get there eventually.
What is your biggest goal and aspiration, both as a person and for your Career as an inspirational Musician and Artist?
I always answer questions like this with If one dreams, one can just as well dream big. So, 1 billion streams, GRAMMYs and an Oscar LOL. But ultimately I just want to earn respect and recognition and not just as an artist but also as a person in general.
What is your favourite motivational quote or motto you could say is your creed?
It's actually something I wrote myself "My life is a portrait and I hold the paintbrush, I got dealt a bad hand, but I'll play it like a royal flush." But I like the Neil Young lyric/quote "It's better to burn out than to fade away".
Any plans for a full Album, or are you following a Single-release Strategy?
Our release strategy is single-by-single, and I think it’s the best way to do it in these times, staying active in terms of your presence with your content, moving forward and growing almost like a snowball effect.
What is the top thing you would love people to know about you, that no media has ever asked you about?
For medical reasons, I am a cannabis enthusiast.
What genre of music have you not explored yet that you would love to try in terms of new music in the future?
We are experimenting with Amapiano, but I also want to look into House, Trap and Reggae maybe.
Please share in conclusion any final thoughts and plug whatever you like...
I just want to say thank you Underground Press for the opportunity and support. A special shoutout to Bobby Johnson, Devo Oosthuizen and Loren Smith.