Jean Barker for MWEB: What's your first childhood memory?Ike: I think my Dad put me on a bicycle, and he made me believe he was still holding me, but he wasn't. And when I realised, I was crashed into a bush, I think. [laughs]
MWEB: When you moved from Cape Town to London, what were you looking for there?
Ike: All my life I've really liked British oriented music. I've always been inspired by David Bowie and Suede and Pulp and stuff like that. At the time, here, hardly anyone knew who they were basically. So that was my main reason to move there. And I ended up staying there for a long time.
MWEB: And this whole influenced by Bowie thing. He's mentioned all over your website...
Ike: Well at first everyone starts off - whatever it is you do in life - with someone you look up to. I've developed into something different. I mean, I'm not trying to copy anyone. But he was a big inspiration. There are also a lot of other people I really enjoy. Like Iggy Pop, or Lou Reed, or Supergrass. Even a lot of classical music as well.
MWEB: Been to New York?
Ike: No, I've never been to America. A bit scared of Americans, actually.
MWEB: So you've been in London for...
Ike: Uh... altogether, five and a half years?
MWEB: And who makes up your audience there?
Ike: Quite a big mix actually. I mean in the beginning, it was quite a lot of student friends. It developed into it's own little audience. Not really South Africans. I really wanted to experience Britain. So I didn't move to Wimbledon or Earls Court, I actually moved to the South East of London. And so I wasn't in touch with any South Africans whatsoever for the first four years. And last year I really started missing home, and I hooked up with all the people I knew.
MWEB: And the response from British radio stations?
Ike: Mmm, it was alright. Also radio stations in Holland, Germany, Italy... it was played in like 17 countries. And it was played in Britain too, but not on the big stations. That was singles.
MWEB: Was music a full time thing while you were there. Were you able to get by?
Ike: Ja, well London is a hectic city. Just to pay the rent was a mission. So I was teaching singing, and teaching in schools sometimes, and doing a lot of busking -playing guitars on the street for quite a long time ... it was quite good income actually. I'd play at Queen's Walk [on the Thames] and there are a lot of little restaurants there, and after I'd played a couple of songs I'd go round the tables and ask for a contribution. I was making, like R800 an hour.
MWEB: More than you'd make selling records?
Ike: [laughs] Ja, definitely
(He also toured around Europe busking)
MWEB: And tell us a bit about the live music scene in London
Ike: I really like the London vibe. There's a lot of competition with other bands and a following, and it was quite a rough place. But I must say, lately, it's changed so much because of this whole stupid Pop Star and Pop Idol and Big Brother, the audience tend to want more cover music. And a place like London, where you'd think the most creative people would stem from? But they're all having their parties on Fridays with cover music. The venues are starting to CHARGE musicians to play... you have to have a following of 100 people or upwards to get to play... It was getting increasingly difficult there. And it's such an oversaturated market there. It's a bit like living in Cape Town and having Table Mountain. Nobody ever walks up it because it's always there.
MWEB: And the South African bands, like Tweak, who go there? They call it a tour. They tend to play the South African pubs? Have you seen them?
Ike: No, I really consciously stayed away from that scene. To see if I could make it with the Brits. I know the easy way would be to play at all the South African places. I only did it once. At the UKASIE festival. It's the biggest South African festival outside of South Africa. And it was like Heinz Winckler, and Dozi, and all these people. I was the only English act of the bands that were supposed to represent the diversity of our culture! Didn't see one black face. I had to sing Die Stem five times before I got all the rugby players to applaud. [Laughs].
MWEB: And touring? What are the things about it that work for you, and that really don't?
Ike: At first, I loved everything about it really. But it's luck of the draw, of the evening really. What bands are playing in front of you and after you. And especially with my first album, I learned a lot. It was quite reliant on the lyrics and it wasn't the most upbeat album. So it was quite difficult to sell it to like... people who didn't know you at all. The second album is very different. It's more upbeat and catchy and hooky... (Ike recommends his friends' band, Athlete, Snow Patrol, Morrissey to those who like his songs.)
MWEB: What kind of South African do you think of yourself as?
Ike: Quite proudly South African actually. I really love this country - I really absolutely love this country. It's always been home to me. I didn't come back for four years, but it was a very conscious decision. I wanted to see if I could make it, without running back to mommy. But I also see myself as a very open minded South African. I'm looking around what's happening in the rest of the world and I try to work to an international standard, rather than doing just about enough to scrape through here.
24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.
In the seventh episode of the Channel24 Coffee Break series, Just Jinjer frontman Ard Matthews stopped by Channel24 to jam a few songs and talk to us about his new album and band as well as overcoming his National Anthem upset. Read More »
The lads talk life, love...and their new album. Read More »
10 epic pics.
All the deets.
South AfricaCity Press
Johannesburg CBDResourcing Solutions
HousesR 3 300 000
HousesR 6 850 000
HousesR 3 500 000