Music Interview: Werner Bekker – Withdrawal Symptoms, Or Quitting Is For Winners

May 21, 2020

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By BRUCE DENNILL

Werner Bekker‘s latest single is called Withdrawal, a musing on the giving up of a vice – smoking, drinking, eating or whatever you do to take the edge off – and how that can cause us to take our frustration out on the ones we love.

 

“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan 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?

I would have to say my biggest inspiration is the singer songwriters from the Naughties era. I don’t mean “guys with guitars, performing on their own,” but rather talented writers. The likes of Damien Rice, Thom Yorke, Glen Hansard, Train, Aqualung and many more. This era marks the link between classic songwriting and what we are experiencing now.

 

Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?

It definitely has changed. I think everyone goes through changes in taste. I am currently listening to a lot of independent artists such as Dan Mangan, David Keenan and Winterbourne. I feel like these musicians are using the current sound while keeping a sort of honesty to their music that we used to see in bands like Queen or The Beatles. It’s refreshing to have the prospect of combining synths and songwriting with modern song structure and drum machines. That said, I am and will always be a fan of musicians over computers.

 

Name one song you wish you’d written. What makes that song so important?

I would have loved to be the writer of so many songs. A couple that come to mind are Brighter Than Sunshine by Aqualung, London by Ben Howard and What Light by Aiden Knight. I feel that all these songs evoke an immense vulnerability in the listener, which I believe comes from an honest emotional catharsis. No one is able to synthesise these feelings. They are once in a lifetime moments captured for us to listen to in a song format. Having said that, I don’t know that I would write the same songs if I could turn back time. Songwriting is such a personal process and each song is unique and true to the heart of it creator.

 

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 (selling CDs from a box in your car or similar) and any other creative channels you’ve explored.

In all honesty, I have no clue. Some things that have worked for me include building a team of people who are passionate about my music and who want to see it grow. I spent much of the first five years of my career performing at least three to five times a week in order to build a steady following and from there, I have tried everything from selling merchandise and physical CDs to promoting my music via ad campaigns on social media and going to parties that I know influential people will be at. I think it all comes down to working hard and constantly trying new ways to reach your target audience, whether that’s through gigs, festivals parties or social media.

 

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? 

As young adults, we build stuff up in our minds. To a degree, I was aiming to be a semi-famous musician by the age of 23. I just turned 25. Life never happens like we planned it. I think I am on the right track and I plan to innovate and enjoy the journey as much as possible

 

What is the story behind Withdrawal – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?

The song explores how we over-analyse things in our life when we try to break free from addiction, in my case cigarettes. The songs I write come from personal experiences. Quitting smoking is something that I had to deal with recently. Music serves as a therapist for me.

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