Reclaim yourself, question everything...
Just over a year ago, I was walking though the Old Biscuit Mill with two of my closest friends, Don Packett and Motheo Moleko. Mo saw some guys jammin’ in the square, he went over, picked up a microphone, and started rapping with them. He still is…
I rap in an act with Jeremy Loops and Jamie Faull – a pair of talented Cape Town-based musicians – and I’m currently working on my solo project. A few months ago, after a successful tour to Johannesburg where we played (and impressed) at a music festival called Sowing The Seeds 2012, I wrote a status on Facebook about the doors you open by giving your all every time you do your job, whatever your job may be. That status, reprinted below largely untouched bar some additional info for context, chronologically follows how our effort opened doors for us, allowing us to go from an act that busked to 10 people to an act frequently playing to 7000+ people at major music festivals in just 18 months.
I hope something of my tale resonates with you like it did with Richard and some friends on FB.
When Jeremy and I started this music thing a year and a half ago, I used to always tell the guys we had to put on our best performance bar none at the most recent show because you never know who is watching. I still tell them this.
Jeremy asked me to try this music thing with him because we had a cool crowd at The Biscuit Mill when we were busking there. I only asked if I could rap with them because they were playing nice tunes. We didn’t know each other at the time so, in essence, it all started with him impressing me, and I impressing him in turn. This was the start…
Main stage at Rocking The Daisies 2011 – our biggest gig to date at the time – happened because the event owners watched us kill our ‘audition’ at Sowing The Seeds 2011. Sowing The Seeds 2011 itself happened because that very same event organiser saw us kill our fortnightly shows at a packed Rafiki’s, and figured we should at least get to audition at STS2011 for the big time.
Our many Assembly gigs happened because we killed Assembly the one time we got a chance there through a party hosted by GreenPop. We made sure to impress at the venue every time we were invited back thereafter.
Our KZN gigs in Pietermaritzburg, opening for The Parlotones at Maritzburg Day, and Durban, opening for Freshlyground at COP17, happened because the director of the events company hosting those events saw us at the aforementioned Assembly gigs. He was impressed, and contacted his CEO to urge him to book us. He checked a YouTube vid from an Assembly gig, and was convinced enough to book us. We killed those performances, by the way. [Those performances also played a big role in our securing a slot at Splashy Fen 2012, a big KZN music festival that recently took place.]
Oh, and now talks of massive things are ongoing because we killed Sowing The Seeds 2012 in JHB. If you’re still connecting the dots here, Sowing The Seeds 2012 happened because we killed Rocking The Daisies 2011, which itself happened because we killed our ‘audition’ at Sowing The Seeds 2011 in CT, which itself happened because we killed our fortnightly gigs at Rafiki’s.
Lots of killing going on here. Consistent killing, mind you, and with greater precision/violence each subsequent occasion.
My point is you never know who is watching, and you never know what doors you could open by just putting your back into it. We’ve played for an audience of 10, and we’ve played for an audience of 3000-7000, and we give equal effort every time. Every. Fucking. Time. No off days. Ever. The audience deserves no less, irrespective of its size, and you owe it to yourself, too.
Seriously, people are always scouting in any career. Just, please, show the fuck up if you want it badly. And I don’t mean play-play badly. I mean really, really want it. We cannot completely control how much longer our amazing journey will continue for, but we will control the only thing we can control: our unrelenting effort.
Everyone has unrelenting effort within…!
(You can listen to the studio recording of “My Shoes” on Soundcloud)
April 12, 2012 at 9:09 am | 12 comments
When I was 21 years old, I walked into the bedroom of my great aunt Mamie for the last time. She was sitting in her chair crying, tears running down her cheeks. Growing up Mamie was one of the most important people in the world to me, always having a story to tell – I was devastated to see her like this.
“What’s wrong, Mamie?” I asked.
“Sit down.” she said, smiling now, “I’d like to tell you a story.”
“When I was just about your age, I left Glasgow for Toronto. I was young and excited, leaving home for the first time. Toronto was a whirlwind for me, I got my first job, and I watched my first Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game.”
If you know me and have ever wondered where my passion for the Maple Leafs came from – now you know.
“It was also in Toronto that I met my first love.” she continued. “His name was Lesley John Moore, he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. One weekend, a few months after we had met, he took me for a drive to one of the nearby lakes, when we were there he got down on one knee and proposed to me, the sun setting over his shoulder. I was ecstatic.”
She stopped for a second as she remembered the moment, smiling through a tear.
“The next week, I packed my clothes into one of his suitcases, the letters L.J.M stenciled in gold leaf, and went home to tell my mother. At first she was as happy for me as I was, until she asked me if he was Catholic, he wasn’t, and in those days things like that mattered. She was furious and forbid me from ever talking to him again. Over the following months, letters came, but they were always returned to sender, unread. My mother would not even let me write to him to explain.”
“They say time heals all, and I guess over the years I healed a lot. I met your Uncle Reggie, we got married and tried to start a family of our own. After three miscarriages, we knew it would never happen. So your Mum became a daughter to me, and then you and your sisters became my grandchildren. Your Uncle Reggie died when you were two, but he adored you. You used to sit on his knee taking the pen out of his pocket.”
“I really do love you all more than you can possibly imagine, you are my happiness. However, when you walked in today, I was crying because I was wondering what my life would have been like had I married Lesley John Moore.”
The following day I left on tour with Roxette. Mamie died while I was on the road.
I have never forgotten that last sentence. It is, without a doubt, the saddest 16 words I had ever heard.
Sixty years after she had left Toronto, she still cried for the love she never knew.
The final lesson Mamie taught me was this: It’s far better to live with the regret of the mistakes you have made, than to die with the regret of never having tried.
She had that suitcase with her until the day she died.
Love you Mamie…!
February 27, 2012 at 10:14 am | 13 comments
I have a confession to make. If we knew each other when I was 14 years old, there’s a very good chance I masturbated thinking about your mum (and your sister… and your sister’s friend – usually together).
Sure, on occasion I’d manage to get my hands on a wayward copy of Scope (thanks Dad), but for the most part the average candle-bashing involved nothing more than my imagination.
I was a master. I could piece together a story that would make Jeffrey Archer proud (or at the very least, blush), starting from how we met, flirted, seduced and succumbed all with the perfect timing of a thriller.
And I could create a new story every day, or if I’m to be completely honest, twice a day… sometimes more.
Fast forward 20 odd years and the world has changed, although not entirely – admittedly I still enjoy the odd manual override.
However, I’ve become lazy.
Gone are the Booker Prize winning scenarios, only to be replaced by the cheap thrills of youporn.com. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, the convenience of the click/shake/wipe method has its advantages. I just feel that an imagination is a terrible thing to waste, and if you have a job like mine, my imagination is a tool that I require daily.
So, what’s the solution? Lads, there’s only one thing for it, you need to double your efforts, what ever you’re doing now, do it twice as much! BUT and it’s a big bold but, every other time – no porn allowed.
Do it for yourself. Do it for your career, for god’s sake man… do it for your country.
So yeah, to sum up, the porn industry is definitely killing creativity. Either that or your mum got ugly…!
October 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm | 12 comments