Interview of the Day, Interviews, Music|October 24, 2011 11:05 am

Meet Brandon October

Brandon October

Brandon October won over the South African public when he appeared on the very first South African Idols show back in 2002. Brandon battled it out with Heinz Winckler right to the end, only to miss out on the title by a fine margin.
His debut solo album, ‘Temptation’, produced by Marcus Brewer, was released in 2003 and was nominated for a SAMA the following year in the Best Pop Album category and spawned three chart-topping singles.
Brandon has continued to build a solid career for himself in the local music scene through live performances, competition judging, TV presenting on kykNET, motivational speaking, MC work, corporate entertainment, charity functions and event appearances.
In 2007, Brandon’s follow-up album, titled ‘Opsoek na Liefde’ was released to a supportive Afrikaans following.
He has participated in prestigious events around South Africa, Africa and overseas and shared the stage in with numerous established entertainers and musicians, including Amanda Strydom, Gloria Bosman, Coenie De Villiers, Danny K, Koos Kombuis, Patricia Lewis, Zamajobe, Boom Shaka’s Lebo, Timothy Moloi, Danie Niehaus and Nataniël.
Brandon has just released his self-titled third studio album, produced by Robin Walsh and plans to embark on a national tour soon.

Personal
Q: The all important personal profile. How would a close friend introduce you at a social event? i.e. Name, age, company, interesting fact etc.
A: My close friends know to only introduce me as Brandon. I am much more than what I do for a living, much more than what people know or think they know about me.

Q: Tell us something that not many others know about you. This could be anything from a phobia to your favourite movie.
A: I am a keen DIY man. I’ve painted our house inside and out, designed and built patio decks. I enjoy a good challenge and can do pretty much anything I put my mind to.

Q: What do you enjoy doing when you want to get away from it all?
A: What I enjoy most, is spending time with my wife and two beautiful sons. In an industry of superficiality and insincerity they are my quiet place from the storm: they bring balance and normality to my life. While my sons really ‘dig’ the idea that their father is a ‘rockstar’, as they call it: to them, I am just dad.

Q: How would you describe your dream home and where in South Africa would you like it to be?
A: My dream home has a tennis court, swimming pool, bowling alley, go-kart race track, 6 garages, library for all my books, studio, 6 bedrooms. We’ve already found it…I just have to make the owners an off they can’t refuse…

Music Career:
Q: You’ve just completed your 3rd studio album. How is it the same or different to those that came before?
A: I am not the same person I was 8 years ago, neither am I the same person I was 4 years ago, so it stands to reason that my music wouldn’t be the same. My songwriting has changed, the subject matter, to a degree, has also changed. My singing style has also evolved. On this new album there are definite moments when people will say, ‘damn I didn’t know he could do that’.

Q: How would you describe the writing and recording process of this album?
A: Writing good songs is never easy and I don’t record a song just because. It really is a labour of love and each song is written and recorded with the thought that, ‘what if this was the last song I’d ever have the opportunity to write or record?’ I have a personal connection with each one.

Q: What do you hope to achieve with this album?
A: I’d of course like to increase my fanbase and to sell bucketloads of cds. It’s also an opportunity to show a completely side to my music: this album is infused with rock elements and captures my voice like few have heard before.

Q: Your career was essentially kickstarted by Idols. Do you feel you would have reached the same kind of level without the headstart the show gave you?
A: My case is a different one to say, an artist whose life’s dream was to become a singer. While I’ve always loved singing, it was never something I considered making a career of. Having said that, I do believe that it’s still possible to have achieved what I have without the platform Idols provided. It definitely made the transition from Ad-man to music- man a whole lot easier, but with hard work, persistence and above all tenacity it can be done.

Q: How do you think the Idols show has changed over the years – for better and worse- since your year?
A: There have been many improvements over the years that have definitely added value to the show, both from a viewing perspective and from a brand point of view. Elements like a live band, backing vocalists; pyrotechnics gives each show a sense of realism that few contestants will again experience.

Q: How do you feel South Africa’s musical landscape has changed in recent years?
A: The fact that fewer people buy CDs these days has contributed to the demise of ‘physical’ music. Live show attendance indicates that people still want to see live music and still are passionate about South African music. I suppose too, to a degree, economic constraints further impact album sales. I have noticed however that artists are becoming more resourceful at getting their music exposed and this along with other merchandise sold is sustaining the industry.

Q: What kind of shows do you enjoy playing most?
A: The best shows are the ones where the audience is an appreciative audience. When people respect and acknowledge the craft of songwriting, the skill of singing and the investment of practise; that is for me the perfect show; even if only one person is in attendance.

Q: Do you have any shows that stick out in your mind as particularly special?
A: Both the World Summit on Sustainability and the FIFA unveiling ceremony in Berlin, Germany are memorable experiences. Those very important and privileged opportunities were televised live to billions of people and with the president in attendance, it made it all the more important!

Q: How important do you think it is for musicians/ creative minds to meet and collaborate?
A: Because we all view life differently, our realities are different. When we share our experiences and abilities with each other, we take that creative process to another level. Since ideas can now be bounced off two or more parties, sparks fly then arguments ensue and once we’ve stripped away our egos and allowed our creativity to flow unheeded; magic happens.

Life in South Africa
Q: Have you or any of your immediate family been affected by crime? If yes, has it changed your perception of the country and the way you and your family live your lives?
A: It’s not crime that has changed people’s perception of our country: it’s our current government’s inability to control and put a stop to the crime that’s created that perception. Our country really has everything you’d want a country to offer, wildlife, and beautiful coastal and bushland areas, resources aplenty.

Q: Have you ever considered emigration? If yes, where do you think you would emigrate to?
A: Not in the sense that I’m fleeing my country, but I have considered moving abroad to further my career. I’ve always liked Europe so a likely spot would be somewhere in The Netherlands or Switzerland.

Q: If you were given the opportunity of sitting down with the president, what advice would you offer him?
A: I’d start of by telling him to listen to the people. A true leader is not a dictator. A true leader cares about the little things, the things that are important to others. I fear that there is too much emphasis placed on the past. Let’s leave it there. We are ruled by a government that constantly reminds us of our country’s past but does very little to improve the present.

Q: South Africa’s greatest musical export is?
A: We have had a few musical ambassadors throughout the years. I think of the late Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Johnny Clegg and of course more recently the South African rock band, Seether who have managed to make their mark on the American music market!

Life in Johannesburg
Q: What do you enjoy the most about living in Johannesburg?
A: While Cape Town born, fast-paced Joburg has an urgency that resonated with me.

Q: Favourite restaurant in or around Johannesburg for a romantic dinner?
A: My wife and I have two favourites. For Greek cuisine we go to Mythos in Bedford Centre and for Italian we go to Ciao Baby Cucina also in Bedford Centre owned and run by our friend, Chef Warren Harvey.

Q: What is the one place in Johannesburg that is a must visit for all tourists?
A: No visit to Johannesburg or even Gauteng for that matter would be complete without a visit to The Cradle of Humankind – a World Heritage Site – and the world’s richest hominid site.

General
Q: If you were able to pick anyone as your mentor, who would it be and why?
A: My grandfather has been my life mentor, guiding me and tutoring me in the things that would stand me in good stead in any situation and also prepared me for manhood. All of this was done in his easy conversational way that made his lessons not seem like lessons at all.

Q: One book that you would make required reading for all matric pupils?
A: ‘How to win friends and influence people,’ by Dale Carnegie. Being a teenager is one of the hardest phases in one’s life and it can be very confusing.
This book changed my view of the world, how I viewed myself in it. With practise, the teachings espoused by Dale made me more comfortable with myself and prepared me for any situation. It’s because of the teachings of Dale Carnegie that I, with the same level of comfort and confidence, can address, engage and communicate with any person regardless of their status or station in life. This book prepared me for the stage long before I had any thoughts of stardom.

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