Takunda Aaron Chimutashu aka Zen the Master is a 25-year-old creative filmmaker, TEDx speaker and engineer with a passion for the arts and the people that create them.
Motivated to showcase more Zimbabwean talent, he has launched the ‘Zen Chills With’ series to talk to and showcase more artists and creatives in the media space. Following the first episode of the series published in December and features TearsintheSoil, #enthuse sit down with him.
#enthuse: Hi Zen! Why Zen The Master?
Zen: Well it’s a pretty long story, basically back in university I was a pretty avid gamer and my gamer tag was Zenpool. After a while, it became my actual nickname and got shorted to Zen. The master part came up when I was searching for an Instagram handle and…it kinda just fit with me I guess. I bet you expected some dope deep story about inner peace and stuff, but honestly, all that came way after the name.
#enthuse: Haha okay and what made you start vlogging?
Zen: I’ve always wanted to share parts of my life with people. I’ve had a pretty eventful life and the amount of things I learn from experiences and other people on a daily basis is mindboggling. I guess I just decided to kind of cut out the middleman and just plug people into the source of all my insight… My life. The Zen Life.
#enthuse: What is living a Zen Life?
Zen: Yeah… still figuring that out. That’s why the vlog, it’s my journey to figuring that out.
#enthuse: You mentioned experiences that taught you a lot. What was one such experience and what did you learn from it?
Zen: Being homeless for a short stint was a major one. Something about hitting rock bottom made me braver when it came to trying new things. Its kind of hard to fear loss when you’ve had nothing to lose before.
#enthuse: Why did you start doing this series and can you tell us a little bit more about it?
Zen: Well, the “Zen Chills with” series is a series of vlogs where I spend time with artists and have them showcase their art with some cinematic shooting and editing, either as part of the vlog episode or as a separate short film. The series came about as a result of the underutilisation of Zimbabwean artists that I’ve seen. All of them are either underrated or just performing to small audiences.
The problems I’ve noticed are a lack of resources to create engaging visual content, lack of audiences that understand them and vibe with their art. In this day and age, visual content and spreading your vibe is everything!
My idea is to give art a context. I want to give audiences a personal experience with these artists and reveal the human within them whilst exposing their art to different audiences using my skills as a vlogger and Filmmaker. Hopefully, the effect will be the creation of an audience that both appreciates the art and the artist and vibes with both.
#enthuse: What’s one thing you’ve learnt from a creative that changed your perspective?
Zen: Hard one. Borderline impossible to answer. I think I’d have to go with Overdose’s approach to her art; “if you don’t like it, go and make your own”.
#enthuse: What influences your choice of which artist to work with?
Zen: It’s hard to nail down, but It’s all about vibe and message. If I find a person who gives off a really interesting vibe and has an interesting message to share through their art, I make an effort to engage them and create with them. I can’t really nail down what a “vibe” is, but I know it when I feel it.
#enthuse: And who are your top 5 Zim Creatives and Why?
Zen: I will list the top five I’ve had a personal experience with. Well;
TearsintheSoil (poet) – one of the most introspective poets I’ve ever met.
Metaphoric Ove7dose (rapper, poet) – wise as hell and also frighteningly humble. You can catch her vlog episode on January 21st.
Michael Chiunda (poet) – genuinely one of the most talented lyricists I’ve ever listened to. Seriously, look him up.
Welensky Kaseke (Film score artist, film director) – why this guy isn’t world-famous by now baffles me honestly. Every musical piece he produces inspires me to dream and his newest movie Botso left me stunned!
Kirkpatrick Chidamba (photographer) – this guy’s eye for beauty is nigh unrivalled. I just simply enjoy looking at the pictures he takes.
#enthuse: What do you believe needs to change in the art space in Zimbabwe?
Zen: I think we need to work on creating a clearer journey of progression from a guy on the street to star. We don’t have an environment that primes the industry movers to be hungry to discover new artists. Most creatives just amble around in their respective circles unsure of how to get from where they are to where they dream to go. I feel the story would be far less tragic if these creatives’ art just wasn’t making the cut. Instead, we live in a country where some of the best art will always go unnoticed.
Let’s teach creatives what the movers in their industry are seeking. Let’s push movers to create more platforms for discovery (events, competitions, pitches). Let’s remove barriers that stand in the way of artists pitching themselves to industry giants. Let’s get artists distributing and pushing their own art harder and on more platforms and let’s have more successful artists being candid about how they made it to where they are.
Most of all, let’s have small creatives collaborating across artforms to promote each other and share audiences. Cross-promotion, online distribution of content and working harder to produce engaging visual content. There’s something about *seeing* things that makes audiences remain engaged and gain interest in creative works.
#enthuse: Wow, truer words have never been spoken. Do you have anything else you would like people to know?
Zen: Watch and subscribe to the vlog and support local artists. There’s a lot of great talent in Zimbabwe just waiting to be recognized.