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UMLILO BIO

Founder of Future Kwaai Records

Intergalactic shape-shifting kwaai diva Umlilo is a genre and gender-bending multi-disciplinary artist. The queer performer/music producer’s signature sound dubbed ‘future kwaai’ explores and pushes the boundaries of electronic kwaito, alt-pop music in contemporary South Africa and has been a regular fixture in the international music community.


Umlilo merges an avant-garde aesthetic with technology, visual art, dance, film and fashion design. They have released two acclaimed visual EP’s that have been playlisted worldwide, received over 300 000 streams online and featured across film, art, literature, fashion and music platforms. Umlilo has performed shows and tours in North and South America, Southern Africa and Europe.

Umlilo has released two EP’s ‘Shades of Kwaai’ and ‘Aluta’ available on Apple Music, Amazon and most online music platforms. The EP was playlisted all over the world in countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, France and USA. The debut single Living Dangerously from Umlilo's debut EP 'Shades of Kwaai' was named one of Rolling Stone SA Magazine's hottest singles of the month for May 2013 and featured in film While You Weren't Looking and will be part of the BBC drama series ‘Noughts and Crosses’ soundtrack. Umlilo has given two TED talks with one titled “Technology resuscitates art”.

Magic Man, the first single off Aluta with a music video directed by Jasyn Howes debuted as part of Vitra Design Museum's travelling exhibition titled "Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design". It travelled all over Europe from Germany, Switzerland to Bilbao, Barcelona. It is also featured in a worldwide film exhibition and coffee table book "Seismographic Sounds: Visions of a New World". The follow up single and music video Chain Gang was nominated for 6 Mercedes Benz Bokeh Fashion Film Awards.

The next single Reciprocity exhibited at Explode! Exhibition in Sao Paulo, Brazil and aired in USA TV channel KCNet. Out of My face is currently showing at the Afro futures exhibition at Kunstegewerbemuseum at Berlin’s Museum of Decorative Arts. The last visual single Umzabalazo, debuted at Tedx Cape Town where Umlilo gave a talk and performance around music, technology, and activism.

Umlilo featured as one of the queer artists in the I-D documentary Out of This World with Mykki Blanco and has been a 1Beat fellow with the US State Department and Bang on a Can. Umlilo has also released a single Emoyeni through Prohelvetica Johannesburg as a cross-collaboration with Sean K from Namibia. In 2019, Umlilo performed at the annual Afropunk Festival in Johannesburg. They have since done projects with Elektron (Estonia), Goethe Institute (Archive of Forgetfulness), Un (Infecting) The City (Cape Town) as well as Concerts SA.