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Interview: Chris Chameleon

2011-06-23 08:22
 
Interviewing Chris Chameleon... I was nervous, to say the least. Maybe it was the fear of him not remembering me, because I've 'unofficially' met him before. Then again if you’ve been in the music industry you've probably met most people 'unofficially' at some time or other, so no, it wasn't that.

I was nervous because Chris has just always been such a constant, big presence in the music industry. Cross-dressing Boo! frontman, every-award-you -can think-of winner, former 7de Laan actor… and just when you think he can't possibly want or do anything more, he launches a captivating, mesmerising second Ingrid Jonker album, As Jy Weer Skryf.

The inevitable question of course: Why Ingrid again and not someone else? Well, Chris says that he still finds Jonker's work irresistible "and of all our poets she is the most musical; the rhythm in her poems; the melody in her words, the sound, the wordplay and understanding." And on the "someone else" topic, he divulges his philosophy on life: "I don't record an album just because I think it's a good idea, or because I think it’s a way to make money, because then I can just as well record a gospel album… I truly believe that one's job must be a calling. If your heart is in something, it can never be unsuccessful."

This philosophy is evidently the driving force behind As Jy Weer Skryf, because listening to opening track "Ek het gedink" evokes teary-eyed happiness, a feeling of coming home, of seeing a loved one that you haven't seen in a while.

And unlike his first Ingrid album, As jy Weer Skryf has a fuller band sound with drums, more vocals and even a rock song in the mix. Definite highlights are the vocally driven title track "As Jy Weer Skryf", sing-along hit "Waterval van mos en son" and angry rock tune "Elke man het 'n kop".

Listening to the album makes it almost unbelievable that it was recorded in just two weeks, and of course the poems were set to music in just two weeks as well. Fast and impressive or what? Well, according to Chris, he doesn't remember much of the whole process, because "your best work is often that which you do the fastest. The whole album is a collection of one-takes with very few mistakes, and if there were mistakes it was left like that (…) Jimmy Page, Led Zepplin, they did it too, and their mistakes are fantastic!".

So what else is Chris passionate about? Suprisingly… rugby. Chris supports the Cheetahs, because as he puts it: "Firstly, I come from the Free State, secondly, I was born in Johannesburg, and thirdly, I experienced some of my most memorable youth days in Cape Town." Chris even wants to be a rugby commentator in his next life.

Being a big Boo! fan, I just had to ask about their first new album in seven years and that with some changes in the band. Chris says people are glad that they're back, "but some have an issue with the changes after the seven year gap, but this stays a monkey which I have to let out".

And does he still dress up? "Yes, I go for the more glam look now, because I mean 10 years ago I was a hot chick, so the appearance stays relatively androgynous, but the clothes are more glam."

Having all of these different interests, and facets in his life, I keep wondering how Chris Chameleon manages to stay original through all of it. So, I'll leave you with his words: "A big part of originality is isolation."

 
Cross-dressing Boo! frontman, every-award-you-can think-of winner, former 7de Laan actor… and just when you think he can't possibly want or do anything more, he launches a captivating, mesmerising second Ingrid Jonker album, As Jy Weer Skryf.

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