Journalist, editor, business owner & podcast host, Tecla Ciolfi knows something about staying relevant in SA’s music scene. ASA chatted to her about where it’s all headed.
It is impossible to talk about the last decade-and-a-half of South Africa’s music scene without giving due props to the owner of SA’s biggest independent music site, Texx & the City and, since just over a year ago, podcast host, Tecla Ciolfi.
Ciolfi catches up with me to talk about her wild, music-fuelled journey so far, how she’s managed to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry, and launching and hosting her podcast. Texx Talks has the vision of appealing to as many music tastes as possible by interviewing all different types of musicians from around the world.
What memory pops up when you think back to your childhood?
It was a pretty quiet household most of the time because both of my parents were out hustling, which is 100% where I get my never-say-die-or-lie-down attitude from. When they were home however, it was a very different situation – there was always some kind of pasta sauce on the stove and the music was normally a little too loud (according to our neighbours). I guess I mainly remember it as being a fun household to grow up in.
I already know that you’re 100% a Slytherin, but if you think back to freshly-matriculated Tecla, what was the master plan?
There was not, nor has there ever been a master plan. I honestly think that’s why I’ve managed to make a career out of what I do up until now. I’ve never closed myself off to any opportunities or new ideas that have presented themselves to me.
You’re a wearer of many hats: journalist, editor, business owner, podcast host, event curator, artist manager – all with music at the core. Talk to me about your relationship with music and how you turned it into a life-long career.
The scene appealed to me so much when I first started dabbling in it. There was a thriving indie scene, 5FM had some incredible shows and presenters that really shaped a whole generation, and MK (it no longer exists) was beginning to do the same with its shows and presenters, and I just really wanted to be a part of that in any way. So, when I started writing for a free street press music publication, Your LMG, that became one of the biggest in the country for a number of years, it really gave a bunch of misfit content creators a home, and I was one of them. I’ve allowed myself to adapt with everything that I do around the ever-changing music scene. If I hadn’t adapted, I would’ve become irrelevant.
You’ve interviewed so many musicians as a journalist. How does it differ interviewing for written articles versus podcasts?
Well firstly, podcasts don’t require spending 20 hours transcribing an interview that I absolutely hate. Through an episode of Texx Talks, I’m able to instantly get my connection with a musician across to whoever is listening. In a written format that takes time and skill to adequately reflect to the reader. To be honest, I prefer the written format, but some people don’t take the time to read a 3000-word piece anymore. So, I’ve had to roll with the punches, and here we are at the finish line with a #1 podcast, so I have nothing to complain about really.
You reached the 100k downloads mark in your 4th season and are wrapping your 5th season. What are some personal podcast milestones for you?
Interviewing Cassper Nyovest. I don’t know why but I was way more nervous to chat to him than I was Passenger or The Lumineers or Portugal. The Man. I kept thinking, “Don’t fuck this up!” the whole way through the interview and luckily, I didn’t. In fact, it turned out to be one of my favourite episodes to-date.
What can you spill about what you’ve got lined up for the rest of the year with Texx Talks?
I wasn’t going to say anything to anyone until we launch, but fuck it. We’re doing our first full takeover of Texx Talks by a well-known international brand that I cannot wait to share with everyone. Obviously, these kinds of things have to make sense and the brand alignment is perfect, so I’m frothing to kick this off.
I hear they call you Nostradamus on the streets. Who are the South African musicians/producers who you foresee making big waves? And what trends do you predict for the entertainment industry while COVID is still very much a part of our daily lives?
In terms of trends, podcasting is the one. I reckon you’re going to see a hundred and one podcasts start popping up for all sorts of industry-related issues. Whether or not they’re any good, I’ll leave it to your discretion.