Music Interview: Hot Water – Bringing It Home, Or Ballad For A Benefit

September 25, 2020

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Hot Water’s new single Home is out now. Frontman Donovan Copley, delivered a heartwarming lockdown music video for the song to raise funds for the COVID-19 Feed A Child Coalition. The video features appearances from personalities such as Passenger, Jeremy Loops, Jules from Goodluck, Arno Carstens, Sandra Prinsloo, David Kramer, Zak Hendrikz, Majozi and Jack Parow. Participants from 16 countries have lent their talents to the collaboration and over five hours’ worth of footage was received for the four-minute music video. All revenue across any and all platforms for the song and music video (radio royalties, YouTube, direct donations to the fund, licensing of track and video) during the Covid-19 Pandemic will go to the Covid-19 Feed a Child Coalition.

Donate: Name of account holder: City of Cape Town; Nedbank Ltd; account number: 1158667035; branch name: Corporate Cape; type of account: current; universal code: 198765 (Nedbank South Africa); swift number (to be used with offshore payments): NEDSZAJJ; reference number: 198056124.


“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?

Although I only got into music when I was 21, there were some moments before that, which, in hindsight, were signposts: being nine years old and deeply homesick in the USA and a Juluka album completely and utterly possessing me. Then being 11 and just singing and feeling like I was in heaven. Then being 15 and watching the wild fire and freedom of Jerry Lee Lewis’s Great Balls Of Fire and buying my first physical record. Then 19 and my best friend leaving a copy of The Best of Cat Stevens on my desk…


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

I’ve loved exploring a particular stream of South African music called township jive (Paul Simon got hold of this for his Graceland album) and also old school maskanda (Zulu traditional street music), which was the core African component of Johnny Clegg’s sound.


Name one song you wish you’d written or, if you’re not a writer, one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?

Songs are like kids, and I have so many of them that to be honest I don’t wish I’d written anyone else’s song. I have my hands full with my own.  Having said that, one of my favourite songs is the maskandi hit Imbizo by Phuzekhemisi. Phuze = “drink” and khemisi = “medicine”, so his name literally means “drink the medicine”. It’s a song that embodies a feeling of South African pride and confidence. I think that pride and confidence is the medicine we need to drink in South Africa.


In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?

Simplicity. I remember listening to a Tracey Chapman song in my early guitar playing days and realising that she used only three chords on repeat for the whole song. It was a revelation – I already knew three chords! I was like – it’s that simple! – and I started writing songs like a madman.


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?

In my world, the rhythm reveals the melody and the melody then exposes the lyrics. It’s a holistic process, like growing a plant. I do love words so much, though – they create worlds, in general, not just in art – so they would probably win if I had to pick one.


What’s your favourite piece of gear?

My Hot-Water-South-Afri-Can-Blik-Guitar for sure.


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

It’s a piano ballad. If you take Hot Water’s high energy, dance-inducing, theatrical SA jive gees [spirit] and direct it inwards, you get this song. It’s as simple as it gets – one man, one piano. The current pandemic drew this track out into the open; I wrote it last year, but I needed it now and I think maybe some other people might need it too.

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