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Steve Hofmeyer: Your questions answered - Steve Hofmeyer: Your questions answered

2006-03-29 11:01

FREE download
We also organised a free download of his latest single "In Die RSA", for MWEB members only. (Non-Members can listen to the whole thing but not download it.) Click here

MWEB: You inspire great patriotism and cultural pride in many of the people who posted questions for you on MWEB - like Andries Bezuidenhout who wrote from Lagos, Nigeria, where he's working. Is that what your new song off Toeka 2 -" In Die RSA" - speaks to? It seems like SA's answer to Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA"?

STEVE: Yes. Sure is. I need to let all South Africans understand their indispensability and importance; the stigmatised Afrikaner not in the least. I am not interested in a patronised piece of land da' doer in die Bosveld as a peace offering. We Afrikaners need to come back and compete in the frontiers with and against the best Africa can offer, as South Africans, without ever having to dismiss our diversity, our historical contribution and incredible heritage. Although I fight for all monuments, it does seem that the Afrikaner monuments get moved around more easily. I cannot believe we allow this, as South Africans and Afrikaners. I have bought a truck. The next monument the government moves to erect one for themselves, I will go and move. Say, 400 meters to the right! Watch this space.

MWEB: ... and then you get others, like Marinda, who think you're not showing enough loyalty to Afrikaans culture. She says "Jy is so 'n groot vegter vir Afrikaans. Hoekom maak jy jou kinders Engels groot?" Are you? And if so, why?

STEVE: My kids really need to understand their mother first, who's totally Queen's colonial Ingels, jy weet! That will help a lot. Apart from that I speak Afrikaans to them, but that's not the point: I am the activist. Not my kids. I do not represent anybody else but I am glad to see many agree. We can never again force our children to speak a language, we can only wish to speak it and do things with it that will make other South Africans proud to WANT TO speak it. That's my mission. I still get asked "why do you interview English and Blacks on DIS HOE DIT IS" my tv show. Strange, the Afrikaner fascism is still out there.

MWEB: Karel asked if you get tired of being labelled as an "English" or "Afrikaans" singer (usually Afrikaans). What's the musical box you most want to get out of?

STEVE: I've carefully sidestepped all stereotypes. I venture in all genres, use all mediums and try to be as inclusive as possible. (Exactly my gripe with Goosen, who's exclusive and puritan).

I do believe my audience is predominantly Afrikaans, but more and more I get to meet English folk and Afrikaans speakers of other races in my auditorium. This suits me fine. Both Toekas and the Neil Diamond project have lots to do with it. But somehow many South Africans out there come to my show to realise that in all our political fuss, we have forgotten about good ol' fashioned ENTERTAINMENT. And they stay.

MWEB: A lot of people who responded offered advice. Like "MsBlue", who reckoned you needed to relax and not lose your temper so much, and Niki Maartens, who suggested you perform with a live band (and that she organise the tour!) Nina Van Heerden suggested that you should do a Gospel CD, Bob that you cover some songs by young Afrikaans up and coming bands and artists. Do you listen to your fans' advice? Any answers for these fans and critics?

STEVE: I do have a temper, but MsBlue needs to know that the internet is NOT democratically organised. I can use any language I like, especially on arty sites that claim freedom of expression. It's also important to make the right noises, apart from substantial facts. I'd like to think that I've had success by not folding in the face of criticism and peanut gallery council. I do embrace constructive criticism, but seldom get this. I'm not a medium snob (meaning I get to use bands and backtracks respectively and whenever I like or whatever the production calls for), neither a genre snob, meaning that I think all music means something important for someone somewhere, and that your taste is only superior in your frontal lobe. I always like to ask people, who hate my music, or Bles's or Jurie's...IN WHAT ORDER SHOULD I RESHUFFLE THESE NOTES THAT THEY MAY BECOME ACCEPTABLE TO YOU! Their answers are never musical, always political, social, trend-related, but never musical.

MWEB: Whose advice DO you listen to?

Only those that have been there and done what I do and did it before I did. But because I try something different, I can't take too many tips and theories too serious. My learning school is audiences, thousands, every night, who maintain their right to get up and leave if I bore them. There's also something predatorily competitive about me: I need to know that who ever visits this town next, is gonna have to come with goodies bigtime. But that's just me.

MWEB: Many women posting said they'd drop everything (including possibly their husbands) for you. Some may have been joking but Ronette's question is interesting: "Ek wonder altyd of Natasha nie soms moeg/kwaad raak vir al die vroulike aanhangers wat om jou drom nie?"

STEVE: The idea would be that Natasha, who enjoys a lot of respect out there, feels comfortable with what she experiences at shows. She does. Apart from this I need to show that I enjoy being home, which I do, and therefore make as much time with my wife and kids possible. But you're right in your subtext that, 12 years ago I woulda f**ked them all. These days I enjoy getting to the seclusion of my hotel room, play Far Cry on my laptop and speak to the kids on the phone.

MWEB: You get a lot of requests for advice - including people asking for your interpretations of the bible, or for you to come to their 21st birthday parties. What's the weirdest request you've ever had from a fan?

STEVE: So many strange ones, daily. I suppose the lady who expected me to fly to Miami to sing Pampoen on her wedding night, as she owned all my CDs. This time of year I get hundreds of Matric Farewell requests, and I can hardly waltz. Weekly folks get me to sign on their cars! My pa moer my stukkend...

MWEB: It seems to be very important for many to know whether you are a Christian or not. Karen Gerrits, for example said: " jy 'n christen or 'n anti-chris?" Your response?

STEVE: Yes, people doubt my religious credentials for taking on, not just the church, but the prevailing theology. You know, Jesus, Luther and Socrates were seen as "anti-christ" in their own time. In the Afrikaans community they will allow you and forgive you anything if you say you BELIEVE. Take Hansie, for instance. This is not good enough for me. I certainly believe in Jesus and God, but I truly doubt the antediluvian definitions that make Him silly, vengeful and often ridiculous. Not God's fault as much as ours. Believers need to ask themselves why the only wars that are being fought in modern times, are those amongst (and because of) the most religious nations in the world. All tactics sanctioned by the Gods of both parties. And people think they can solve it by asking others to believe? Really.

MWEB: Jaco asks: "What is the secret of your success?"

I don't do the business-side because I know my limitations. I write the songs. I never lose sight that I work with humans and NOT fans. Guitars and muses do not make me better. I remain negative, this way I don't expect much as I am always wonderfully surprised. I try maintaining my almost childlike sense of awe and wonder. It's possible. I don't hang around in order to "be discovered". No-one is waiting for you either. I generate myself. Finally, I admit if I don't know. It's easier.

MWEB: Mel Johnson asks: "Does it hurt you that guests at the South African Music Awards thought your win of the SAMA for best selling artist was a joke and laughed out loud?"

STEVE: Firstly, David Kau created a strange expectation by saying something like "...and the World Cup Soccer bid goes to...". Secondly, it was not expected and if the biggest seller is going to be white, pleeeez don't let it be Steve Hofmeyr. Hy's 'n silly Boer! I understand the prejudice, but I care a f**k about their problems. The people who fought the hardest against a discriminatory South Africa, are often the ones who find it hardest today to tolerate the choices, tastes and ideologies of others.

After selling six times gold in a year (SAMA), breaking all SA records with two DVDs in eight months, making the top 100 South Africans (SABC 3) and top 12 (Sunday Times/Marcinor) South Africans, I feel comfortable that enough people care to take me serious enough to invest a lot of their time and money in my music and other interests. And, for my enemies, I AM ONLY JUST BEGINNING! Swallow that.
Newsflash 17 Nov 04: Steve's latest DVD just went gold

MWEB: You write poetry and would like to (or do?) write film scripts. What's the core big issue - jealousy, honesty, power or whatever - that inspires and challenges you to express yourself?

STEVE: I think epistemology: the data that somehow goes all warped or missing from one mouth to another ear. The Universal Collective Misunderstanding. I know what makes me creative: conflict, new perspectives, spiritual views, the realisation of imagination, curiosity. And I do suppose the adulation and approval of your peers. But novelty rather than success drives me. Hence NO Toeka 3 and NO Beautiful Noise 2. Got other plans. Sound of Music next year and Steve Platinum, my greatest original hits over the last 15 years. Also shows in London, Canada, NZ and Aussie.

- Jean Barker

Steve's the golden boy of SA pop - or should that be Platinum? Yes, we're talking serious CD and DVD sales. He's also the bad boy and the centre of controversy. We put the best of your questions to him and got answers.

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