Bouwer Bosch on bringing back the Straatligkinders: 'Music is hard work'

2019-02-09 15:21
Bouwer Bosch

Cape Town – After a six-year break Afrikaans alternative band, Straatligkinders returned in the latter half of last year with their new album, Verdwyn.

Lead singer Bouwer Bosch spoke to Channel24 about what’s changed with the band in the years since it’s formation in 2006, how he has grown as a person and working on the latest album. 

During the candid chat Bouwer also spoke about how radio has changed along with his own songwriting. 


About what he’s learnt over the past 13 years, since Straatligkinders formed in 2006, Bouwer said: "What I’ve learnt in over a decade is that music is hard work. When you start the band as a student you think you’re just going to write songs and perform but there's a really important business side to music that I think we neglected for a long time. So, I think it’s important to focus on the hard work. If you look at someone like Francois Van Coke and where he’s at right now (that’s a great example) of how hard work has paid off. We underestimated how much hard work it is, doing music, but I’m not complaining. The fact that we can do music for a living, is a massive privilege. The other thing, on a personal note relates to the saying, ‘You must never start to fall in love with something that starts to fall in love with you,’ and music is one of those things. That is to say that music is amazing and it’s a privilege to do it, but it’s important to remember that it’s just music. Your whole identity shouldn’t be defined by the music and the band. We are more than what we do. That was valuable lesson for me to learn."

About the band’s long break and how things evolved in the interim, Bouwer mused: "We took a break and I think we learnt a lot of those things. We also learnt that the song is king. We were a genre band for a long time because we were in love with that heavy genre. But nowadays, it’s all about the song, it doesn’t matter about the genre. The people who like Ed Sheeran are the same people who like the new Imagine Dragons song, that is super cool and heavy. Or the new Rolling Stones track, it’s the song that matters and we focus more now on that than anything else. If you listen to commercial radio now you won’t even find a rock band on there. No Foo Fighters, no Linkin Park, Imagine Dragons is about the only band that is on the charts these days. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no place for bands. You have to play by the rules, and when the rules change you still have to play with."

About how the South African music industry and how radio has changed the singer, songwriter and filmmaker said: "10 years ago in South Africa the metal rock scene was in fashion and then if you had a dream to be like a pop artist it was difficult because it wasn’t popular. If you weren’t heavy or loud then you weren’t respected. Now the tables have turned; it’s all about the music and the song. There are no gimmicks. People don’t care, what you stand for, that’s how I feel. There was a time when music was all about, ‘How can we offend?’ If you look at Die Antwoord and where they started out. Now people don’t care who you offend. It’s about, ‘Is the song good? Or is it catchy? Can I sing to it at my wedding? Can I sing to it? Can I dance to it?’ I think it makes the playing field a lot more even, to just bring youre a game, bring the best song you can."

When comparing the songwriting process and end products with Bloeisels, the band’s first album, Bouwer said: "When we were younger, we were really angry, like every person in their early twenties pretty much. I was upset with church and society and everyone else. The older you get the more you realise who you are as a person and that you want to express yourself in a different way. I think that (that growth) automatically makes the music… I don’t want to use the word, softer because it sounds like we’ve become MatchBox 20 (laughs). "

He added: "It’s not the angry vibe that it once was but the content is still the same, I’m still mad about the same stuff. About my struggles with spirituality and South African culture as a whole and being an Afrikaaner and how I fit in. We learnt the hard way that music is a burden but if you do it well it can be your full-time job and you can earn a salary from making songs. But to do that you have to write better songs, songs that the people want to hear, not songs that you want to play the whole time. But then there’s a balance, who do you write for? Do you write for people or do you write for yourself? There’s sacrifice and a give and take which has to be reached."

About writing the new album Bouwer said: "With regards to the studio approach, we actually used four or five producers on this album, which we’ve never done before, because we did everything in Potchefstroom where we staying at the time and it was easy. We did everything there. Ewald Jansen van Rensburg was actually one of the producers, he’s in the band Monark and has produced for them as well. We started off together, we were his first band and we worked together because we all lived in Potchefstroom. But this time we were all actually staying in different places and wanted to use different producers in all of those places because we wanted to work with people who were better than us in every aspect. It’s truly what we did this time. So, if we were doing a rock song, we got a rock producer, when we were doing pop we got a pop producer."

Straatligkinders recently released a new video using emojis, which is the first of its kind for local Afrikaans artists. The song featured in the video is titled, Krake and the interesting concept for it was devised by the band’s manager, Louis Janse Van Rensburg. The video was shot on an iPhone through the messenger app. 


About the song Bouwer said: "Krake means cracks and the song is about the cracks we all have as human beings. Through different relationships, romantic or platonic, we have to change to heal our own cracks and help heal each other’s. Cracks are not a negative thing; we all have them so it’s a human condition."

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