Interview by ARMC | Written & Edited by Reggie Rasodi
Meet Hloni Modise Matau, a trailblazer in the music industry as the CEO of Basadi in Music Awards (BIMA) and the creative force behind HM Entertainment, a dynamic PR agency. In a recent interview, I had the privilege of delving into her journey. Hloni’s leadership at the awards and her role at HM Entertainment showcase her passion and dedication. Beyond her professional prowess, what truly sets her apart is the infectious inspiration she imparts to women and what personally stood out for me during my interview with her was her delightful sense of humor – she’s very hilarious and made me laugh a couple of times – making her a standout figure in the world of music and entertainment.
Firstly, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this with me. Please introduce yourself and share a little about your musical journey?
My name is Hloni Modise Matau. I am the CEO and founder of the Basadi in Music Awards. And apart from BIMA, I own a PR agency called HM Entertainment, and I have a foundation by the name of Hloni Modise Foundation. When I was 19… (she recalls) yeah, I was 19, that’s when I started working at a company which I won’t mention the name of, I was working as a booking agent at that tender age, and then I slowly worked my way up. Then, you know, joined the SONY Music family, and I worked at a local division of the SONY Music label. Started as a marketing assistant, worked my way up until I was label manager.
What motivated you to choose music as your career path?
To be honest, when I started, I never thought I was going to end up in music. When I think back, I mean, I used to organize a lot of events at school, you know? But the events that I was organizing, it was more community-driven. I thought I was going to be like, the first black female president of South Africa. The universe works in funny ways. I started getting a job and the job was booking agents for music. And then I never looked back. I think my father’s love for music as well. My family actually is like a lover of music. So, I’ve always loved music from a younger age, but I never really thought I’d end up having a fully-fledged career in the music space.
Please share a moment when you felt empowered as a woman in the music industry, and how did it shape your career?
Oh, wow. Okay, wow, that’s a very deep question. Wow, I’ve had so many moments, but I think the one great one was when I used to work with Sony Music, and I watched Oprah’s Legend Gala, and I think I used to close the door of my office for an hour every day, and I used to watch. And the reason why I watched that, was the way I was fascinated by how one woman can have all these powerful people in the same place for the greater good. And I was just like, you know, one day, I’ll have to do something like this for women in South Africa. And I think on the day of the launch of Basadi in Music Awards, I think that was International Women’s Day 2022. I looked around the room, and I could see all of these great, super powerful artists in one room, I felt like, okay, this is it. This is it. And you know, when people were doing their makeup, I just held their hands and I was like, do you get it? Do you get it? Do you get it? Do you get it? And everybody was like, I get it, I get it, I get it. And I think that’s when I decided not to look back. Because, it was real, it was happening. And it happened exactly how I envisioned it. Where you see, multi-generational artists in the same space. Other artists meeting each other for the first time, sharing stories, sharing how they inspire each other and how they want to grow. I was looking at that saying, this is a life-changing moment. This is it. This is it!
At ARMC, we always express how representation matters. How has the concept of representation influenced your career, and what approach do you aspire to adopt in the music industry to serve as a positive example for future generations?
Yoh, Reggie, I feel like you’re about to say, “answer that for 10 marks”. **we both burst out in laughter**
Look, representation is very important to me. I feel like music is very diverse, and music, like sports, is that one principle that is able to unite all different people of different color and so on. So, for me, that’s why at Basadi in Music Awards, it’s very important that we have different representation, because it’s not black awards, it’s South African. It’s not even South African, it’s global. But it’s that global representation that, for me, shows the true reflection of what our industry is about, you know? And the approach that I’m looking at taking, I mean, we have started one way or the other, and to making sure that whether it be performances, whether it be the different approaches that we have leading up to BIMA, that we have different types of people in one space. Because we learn so much more when there’s different representation. It’s not one voice, and I love that. I love hearing different voices for the greater good of a goal.
Lastly before I let you go back to being a shero and superwoman, collaboration is key in the music world. Could you tell us about a memorable collaboration with another talented woman and what you learned from the experience?
There’s so many. I’ve had the pleasure of, maybe not even the pleasure, the blessing of working with great women in this space. And I’ve learned so much. I think for me to be who I am today is a cosmetic of all the lessons that I’ve learned from all those different women. The older generation – the likes of Abigail Kubeka, Letta Mbulu– the class, the humanity, taking your work seriously, you know. Dr. Mpho Phalatse, former mayor of Johannesburg. There’s a lot, guys. There’s a lot. Let me put it this way. I’ve always partnered with different women in different parts of my life. And I feel like singling one out almost feels like the others were not up to par. But all the collaborations with the different females at different parts of my life meant so much to me. I just feel like God always placed the right women to sort of mentor me. But I’ve had the blessing of having solid, solid women that I look up to. And, you know, having them saying either kudos for what you’re doing or why don’t you try it this way, it’s going to work out better. Or let’s do this thing together and see where it’s going to take us, you know. And it’s not just women who are of higher positions. Even the women that are not seen as higher positions. Because I look at everybody the same. Because I learn from every person that I meet with. I am heavily inspired by most of the females that are surrounding me. And they all teach me a lot in their own different ways, you know. So, I’ve had a lot of collaborations that have shaped me into being the woman that I am today. And I still continue to have a lot of those.