With all the South African Idols hype going on at the moment, it seems only right that we catch up with some of the Idols Alumni, starting with Season 7 winner, Dave van Vuuren. After all, who could forget that nail-biter finale alongside Mark Haze!
Dave’s career has taken an interesting turn as he opted out of his contract with Universal Music in order to remain true to his own sound. He released his first album Free The Animals in 2011 and recently released an EP, The Raging Sea. This Friday, he will reveal the music video for “Lunar Girl” – a track off the EP. Here’s what he has to say…
It’s been almost three years since your Idols win, was the hype all that you anticipated it to be?
Yes, it was great. Gave me a good boost.
What sort of impact has this had on your music career?
A negative and positive affect. Negative because of the stigma that comes with winning Idols, some people may not take my original music seriously and to a lot of people I will always be the Idols winner and not David van Vuuren, the musician who plays in dingy bars and lugs around gear just like everybody else. Positive in the way that a lot of people got to hear my voice and I gained a great fan base from it. Also provided me with a great start to my life financially.
You opted out of your contract with one of the biggest labels in the world. What fueled your decision to make such a brave move?
I could see it was going to be a massive struggle to create and perform the music I want to, that being the most important thing, I decided to get out of there as fast as I could. Also, there are so many successful bands that aren’t with a label given the social platforms available to us in this day and age. Also you have guys like David Grevler at Anti Motion Studios who record and produce superbly, so all I had to do was go to him, record my songs, register them with SAMRO, get the songs onto iTunes via Distrokid.com and there you have it. Facebook allows you to boost your posts for a fee depending on how many people you want it to reach based on gender age etc. so it’s been a very awesome and enlightening experience. I encourage all other artists to release music independently. Creative freedom is a must if you want to connect with people on a spiritual level musically. You have so many platforms to choose from. Band Camp, Sound Cloud, Reverb Nation just to name a few.
Do you play as a solo artist now or with a band?
I play solo and with a band! I love doing both so much and actually write accordingly.
Is music your full-time job?
Basically yes, but obviously I have a few other things I do to gather funds. But I’d say 70% of my time is focused on music.
Would you do anything differently in terms of your career?
I’m someone who doesn’t like to look back too much. Everyday for me is a learning experience and mistakes are mistakes. There was a Skateboarding crew back in the day called ‘PD’ and they had a philosophy that went ‘No regrets, only apologies’ and that took on flesh you know? Obviously I have my morals but ja, I just try to keep on keeping on.
You’ve just released a new EP, “The Raging Sea” – can you share some details about the tracks, the writing and recording process?
Yes! I’m very proud of it because I wrote all the songs myself, lyrics and melody wise but obviously there was a little help from my friends concerning structure, tones etc. All the songs are dear to my heart. It’s a concept EP, all about the spiritual war within us and how it affects not only us as individuals but also the people around us in a massive and intensely profound way. There’s six songs on the EP and all of them are mid tempo except for one, ‘Lunar Girl’ which is a fast paced Rock n’ Roll song. Two folk songs and four full band songs.
What is the biggest obstacle that you face as an artist in the South African music industry?
I would have to say funding and the lack of venues hey. But I don’t like to down our scene. I love it and it’s a privilege to be a part of it! Just to get up, switch on and connect is the greatest gift I could ever ask for. Some of the greatest shows I have ever played have been to less than 20 people.
You decided to relocate to Cape Town. Did the decision have anything to do with your career as an artist?
Yes it did, I wanted to be there because there’s some thing in the air there that cannot be explained. I feel at home there and Jess (my wife) and I love the ocean and we need to be near it. I did go to school there for 5 years so I’m excited to go back. I’ve always felt at home in Cape Town. Also there seems to be more venues. I just really love the ocean. It affects my spirit and over all outlook on life. I’m a much better person after catching a wave or walking along the shoreline.
You’ve been gigging since you were sixteen, I’m sure you’ve had plenty of highlights. What stands out most?
Koppi last year and Koppi 2012 with SGQ. Also Dorpstraat Teater in 2012. Touring with Naming James and Gareth Wilson was also amazing but there are so many! I guess those stand out the most.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you thus far?
Playing Oppi Koppi last year, recording my EP with Dave Grevler, Buying a Fender Stratocaster (American, 70’s Reissue) there are lots hey!
Favourite South African artists/bands?
Some Grow Young, The Black Cat Bones, Southern Gypsy Queen, Naming James, BCUC, Van Coke Kartel and Pestroy – in no particular order.
#ThrowBack to Dave’s nationwide, tearjerker performance of “Vincent” on Idols Season 7!