By BRUCE DENNILL
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a superfan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
Xavier Rudd was always someone I would feed off in a sense of having an uplifting and conscious message to put out, referring to a lot of natural elements that I can relate to, especially being from Kommetjie, where the ocean and surfing and a ‘less is more’ approach to life is important. Bob Marley was always up there to. Angus & Julia Stone and Milky Chance were the inspiration of the direction I wanted to go sound-wise.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
It’s a constant change. I think as an artist it’s so important to be open to loads of different kinds of music and pick out things that appeal to you from composition and arrangements or melodies. Aaaah, I love it!
Name one song you wish you’d written (or, if you’re not a writer, one you’d like to be know as the definitive interpreter of). What makes that song so important?
I would have to say Natural Mystic by Bob Marley. It’s a song I can clearly remember from being a kid and my brothers jamming Bob Marley in the house. It’s one song that has stuck with me and makes me feel at home wherever I am in the world.
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?
Having relevant lyrics that stand out are definitely number one for me. I also don’t want to veer too far away from the organic acoustic sound where the roots of the music began. Melody plays a massive role too. I love going from an upfront acoustic sound to big chorus drops and into dancey basslines.
The music industry is no longer a single-narrative operation. For you, what is the best way to get your music from your head to potential listeners? Please comment on digital means (from social media to full streaming and download distribution), playing live (how often; where; to whom), being a cottage industry (eg selling CDs from a box in your car) and any other creative channels you’ve explored.
I find creating a bit of hype doing social media videos and engaging with your audience around a track that you working on in studio or something you’re about to release works amazingly well. Pushing for playlisting and getting the right kind of promo behind you from someone who truly believes in your music is a game-changer too. If you really want to to maximise your reach, putting in some budget goes a long way. I remember printing 200 CDs for Afrika Burn once with a bunch of unmixed/unmastered tracks that had never been released. I would run around giving a copy to everyone, which was a good starting point for some response.
In terms of the above, is there a gap between what you envisioned and what you are experiencing now? Does it matter, and if so, how do you close that gap?
There are many aspects I’ve envisioned in the beginning, but I find we’re still at the beginning stages of this career, so it’s constantly changing. Coming to Europe to tour on a few different occasions and opening for solid bands such as Sticky Fingers has opened my eyes to what life on the road is all about. Even though it’s doing what I love, playing music, there’s a lot of energy and being “out of your comfort zone” that is required.
What is your new/most recent release? What is the story behind it – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?
My debut album and lead single both titled Your Mind Is A Picture is the latest release. These songs have been in the mix for almost two years, bouncing back and forth, and collectively they’ve become this debut album. Each song differs so much from the other – from daily experience to out-there creative thoughts that have manifested into 12 songs. People behind it? My brothers, who I’m so fortunate to have in my life and who are such talented artists – without them, this project wouldn’t be where it is today. Shaun Cloete and Dean Bailey have been involved in the writing and production. Also, our original drummer Ross Hillier – who also shot some of the videos – and Adrian Fowler, our newest edition on the drums. Love you guys!