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Cab Chats with Chad Saaiman

2014-08-11 13:10

Cape Town – When Chad Saaiman walked into the office just before 10:30 on Thursday morning  for our interview, he was the same guy I met almost 12 years ago at the University of the Western Cape.

We both studied English and Communications and while he went on to become famous, I’ve taken the route of writing about famous people.

Chad now lives in Jozi but he was back in Cape Town to host the All Star Drive Show on Heart104.9 FM for the week. In the spirit of the drive show we had our interview in the back of an Uber Black Cab and took a drive around the City.

It was like catching up with an old friend, driving around in the city we both love and grew up in. And we were lucky to be blessed with a beautiful day to take a scenic drive around the City Bowl.

(A map showing the route we took)

Playing radio host:

A regular on radio, this is the very first time Chad went behind the mic as host.

"I’m comfortable in the space, but hosting is a different level of navigating, it's a rush and I’m enjoying it."

"How have you been preparing?" I ask.

"Well, I haven’t. It was just a case of having a few ideas that I could speak about. There are a lot of natural elements that happen with Nick Feinberg and Keri Miller on air. I think that I was hoping that it would work out," he explains.

Being a Heart104.9FM listener I was quite curious to know what it was like working with Nick Feinberg, who can be quite a character.

Chad laughs, "Nick is an awesome guy, we have always gotten along because we both have a connection with soccer, but on air it’s a different persona. It’s worked out. It has been very entertaining."

"What’s your favourite thing to listen to while driving?" I ask.

"'Honestly I don’t listen to a lot of music when I drive." He goes on to explain, "There is so much music happening when I’m not driving I actually just want to enjoy some silence. Or I find myself singing. When you work in music and you hear music all the time there are times when you just want to be silent. I come up with my best ideas when I’m driving actually."

Becoming a muso:

Believe it or not Chad didn’t always want to be a singer, he actually wanted to be a soccer player. He kinda fell into music by chance and the rest is history.

"My love for music stemmed from the music that I grew up listening to. I started singing in high school by chance and it just worked out. When I was younger I thought I would be a soccer player, that was all I wanted to do. Eventually I had to stop playing soccer because my schedule for music got in the way. It was a really hard decision, one of the hardest I’ve had to make in my life," he says.

And while he may not have turned pro soccer player he keeps his soccer dream alive through his involvement with Fives Futbol, the leading provider of Five-a-Side Futbol in the country. He hosts a Chad Saaiman soccer invitational day once a year.

"So your dream has never been to become a Lang and Comm lecturer?" I joke.

"What did you say? I just fell asleep there for a moment," he adds playfully.

"As much as I enjoyed it when we did it, I don’t see myself doing that. It’s funny though outside of soccer. I have been doing a lot of writing, besides song writing I have been writing for one or two magazines here and there working on some scripts, it’s not all lost," he adds.

While Chad has worked and performed with some big names in the music industry he would love to one day work with Pharrell Williams and perform a duet on stage with Alicia Keys accompanied by her piano.

"Do you ever have a ritual before a performance," I ask.

"I just need some time to myself where I get into my zone." He tells me more about his ritual, "Before I go on stage I say a prayer and I have this ritual where I kiss this tattoo on my arm - my daughter’s name Summer. And then I do my thing."

Music and career:

Nominated for a SAMA and with two albums beneath his belt, Chad is one of the most successful South African musicians on the scene.

With the world at his feet I’m curious to know if he feels as if he has 'arrived'.

"No, I don’t feel like I’ve arrived." He continues,  "I don’t know when I’ll ever feel like that. I guess I’m the kind of person who when they hear they have been nominated for a SAMA the next thing is to win one. Then you win that and then the next thing is to win a bigger award. I don’t know when I’ll ever feel like I’ve arrived, you constantly want to keep challenging yourself in and outside of music.

"I think this year I have been challenging myself outside of music. I’ve done some really cool things, I’ve done some TV work and a lot of writing work and it’s been exciting," he says.

Being famous now, I ask how he handles the fans and the limelight.

"With the utmost humility," he answers. "You get a whole lot of different kinds of people who support you, on social media and when you are walking in the mall they will stop you to say they love your music. What more can I ask for? Without people listening to my music I wouldn’t be anywhere."

And about the fame?

"For me my goal was never fame. It was more a case of longevity and just having success within music over a life span; to be able to be playing music until I’m at an age where you know, I’m much older, something that will always be with me," he says confidently.

The Jozi move:

About three years ago Chad made the big move from Cape Town to Jozi. His move there was marked by a tragic event. He had been in Jozi for a month and a half when he was shot in a botched hijacking.

"I went to pick up a friend and I just got this funny feeling that something was wrong. I saw guys approaching my guy and as I was about to leave I saw a gun. As my foot went down on the accelerator I just heard a bang and felt something pierce my side.

"I managed to get away and eventually found a family and was rushed to hospital. The bullet had hit 5 of my organs. A lot of people have passed on with the injuries that I had. I’m really blessed to have gotten through it," he says.

His recovering period took 7 months and during this time he recouped psychologically, physically, mentally and musically

"The bullet hit my diaphragm and grazed my lungs.There was a chance that I wouldn’t sing again," he adds.

While speaking to him I can hear how grateful he is to have survived.

"Every day is just a bit more special now. I make the most of every single moment; this one, the moment I’m going to have next," he says.

The future:

Chad is very excited for the release of his third album Cinema this October.

"It is something different compared to the last ones but at the same time it’s still classic Chad Saaiman kind of style.

"I’ve worked with a lot of different producers. It has stretched me quite a bit and I think it will break new ground for me I’m really excited for that. It feels like I didn’t get a chance to promote my last album so this one we are really going to be pushing launches, tours the works," he says.

"What’s the one thing you’d like to achieve in your career," I ask.

"That’s a good question," he pauses and then continues.

"There are so many things, but I have this end goal where I want to travel Europe, Africa, the Americas just myself and a guitar and just play the smallest and coolest venues. That’s the end goal you know, low maintenance, travel the world and play my songs," he says wistfully.

(Herman Eloff/Channel24)

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