Music Interview: Cantrel – Attracted By Energy, Or A Downhill Success

January 6, 2021

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Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Neil Breytenbach has a side project, Cantrel, when he’s not fulfilling his duties in Prime Circle.


“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 came through the school of Oscar Pietersen, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Rage Against The Machine, Nirvana, Bush, Metallica and others. The band that I would say made me want to be in a band was the Beastie Boys. Their raw energy and catchy songs were a huge attraction for me as a musician.


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

Over the years, I have enjoyed bands like Muse, Royal Blood, Machine Gun Kelly, Yungblud and Fort Minor. But I also enjoy great acoustic songs. I think the formula now is similar to my influence back when I was younger – basically a mix of rock, rap, acoustic and electronic music.


Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?

Imagine by John Lennon. That song is timeless and the message to the world will live on forever.


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?

I would say the melodic hooks, such as catchy vocal lines or hooky instrument lines with a fusion into an easy lyric.

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.

My distribution channel is through DistroKid, which distributes through 19 online streaming channels. From there, I promote my singles on all my social media channels and have created a YouTube video or audio for the songs, which I promote to all my contacts and social media contacts as well. I also use music pluggers to get the singles to different media people. Playing live won’t happen for a while due to COVID-19, unfortunately, but I’ll definitely play live shows again things go back to normal. I’m also building an online merchandise store and will be releasing products such as Cantrel T-shirts, hoodies, vests, caps and buffs. I’m also in the process of starting my own alcohol brands such as Cantrel Lager, Cantrel Gin and Cantrel Rum. Besides the music, I’d like to grow the brand in many aspects from the Cantrel merchandise store.


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?

Cantrel is still a work in progress and the gap will be closing as I get the brand to exactly where I want it to be. Cantrel will be a continuous growth opportunity.



What is your most recent release? What is the story behind it – the genesis of the song (or songs), the people involved, the muse behind its creation?

During lockdown I’ve been releasing songs often. My first was a song called Banana Drama and the second was a song called What if Flowers Burn, which features my son Jesse X and Jesse and I have since released another song called Jump. Jump was written for world champion downhill mountain bike racer Greg Minnaar and was featured on his video edit, where he took the new Santa Cruz Heckler bike for a spin. This song and video edit was also used by the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation to raise awareness around her charity campaign and help those in need.

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