Interview with Johnny Clegg

I sat down with Johnny Clegg recently at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival backstage in Jericho Beach Park and talked with him about his music and performing globally, here is what he had to say.

You have performed all over the world, Do you find your audiences reaction to be similar wherever you play?

Generally yes, but South Africa is different because people speak Zulu and they get some of the layering. People call for similar songs, if you watch the ITunes download you can see which songs are being downloaded in each country which is very interesting

When I watched your set during your Vancouver Folk Music Festival performance, you played with an instrument that I have never seen before, what was it called?

Concertina

Have you been using the Concertina in your singing for a long time?

Yes all my life, I do 3 songs on stage within an hour and a half. It originates in Eastern Europe, though it is manufactured in Connecticut, but I got it changed in South Africa to play my kind of music.

How would you say your music has evolved over the past 10 years?

I am casting a winder net from sourcing musical influences, from Rye music to rock, traditional Zimbabwe music mixed with rock music. I am a songwriter, I try to use different styles to have a conversation. I am a cross over musician, I live on the bridge between a few different styles and I enjoy that.

Are You still living in South Africa?

Yes and I am touring around the world.

Besides Vancouver, are you performing anywhere else in Canada this summer?

Yes I performed in Montreal, Toronto, Banff, Edmonton and Victoria at all the jazz festivals.

What is your favourite Food?

I like stews, country stews, lots of vegetables and meats, I also like South African foods or traditional African cuisine.

Are you still performing with your band Savuka?

I have 2 members with me in what is now called The Johnny Clegg Band.

Do you find performing at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival any different than performing at other festivals?

I think the only difference between performing at various festivals is atmosphere. They are all very similar in organization, this folk festival has much more of a gaelic atmosphere, more connectivity going on, people are curious and that is a good thing.

How has the music of South Africa transitioned from when you started performing to now?

It has been a wash of dance, trance, rap mixed in with local stylistic overlays you know cultural clayquots during the Aparteid years in really starting the youth culture.


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