INTERVIEW: Werner Bekker



PHOTO CREDIT: Xavier Saer  

Werner Bekker


I have been learning more about Werner Bekker


and what sort of music the South African artist was raised on. He discusses his current single, I’m with You, and what comes next for him; whether there are any rising artists we need to get involved with – I ask where we can see him on tour.

I discover what sort of music Bekker is inspired by and what the scene is like in South Africa right now; a few albums that are important to him; how he spends his time away from music – he ends the interview by selecting a cool tune.


Hi Werner. How are you? How has your week been?

It's been a lovely week here in South Africa. Spring has started to peak its head out and we just had our national heritage day celebrations, which is always an amazing time. It's great to see the amazing diversity and beauty that our people have.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

I am a singer/songwriter from Johannesburg, South Africa. I grew up in a very artistic home. My dad used to be a full-time musician and my mum used to do a wide variety of visual arts. I am currently doing music as my full-time job and have been involved in the music industry in South Africa for around five years now.

I’m with You is your current single. Can you reveal the story behind it and how the song came together?

I'm With You is a song about the death of a relationship and how we as people tend to cling to the idealism of such a relationship. We often don't want to let go of the idea of something even though it has been long gone. In the song, I chose to use an old car as the metaphor for the relationship. This 'car' keeps breaking down and you don't want to let it go because of all the preconceived ideas you have built up around your feelings about this 'car'. The specific car that inspired the song was an old Volkswagen Beetle called Penny-Lane.

Will there be more material before the end of the year?

Unfortunately, we will not be releasing the next single before the start of next year. We are currently in-studio working hard to get a full five-track E.P. out by then as well as another music video. So, I can tell you that it will be well worth the wait.



How did you start in music? Did your family play a hand in your passion?

My family definitely played a massive part in my being a musician. As I mentioned earlier; my father was a musician for many year when I was a child. We used to tour South Africa with him and my mum, visiting all the major cities and festivals and I was really inspired by my parent's lifestyle. I started with piano lessons at the age of seven and have apparently been singing since before I could talk. I often think that, if it weren't for my parents, I would not even have thought about pursuing a career in music.

Which artists inspired you then and inspire you now regarding your sound?

I quite like music in the same way that I like books. I am very particular about it and when I find something I truly like I will listen to/read it over and over for the rest of my life. The first artists I really admired as a child must have been Jack Johnson, Damien Rice and Jason Mraz and, to this day, I am still listening to them and loving them. Current inspirations for me include Ben Howard (whom I discovered as a teenager), Hozier; Jake Bugg, Aliocha; Matt Holubowski and Fink. 



You are based out of South Africa. Is there a strong music scene there? What sort of sounds are trending right now?

There most definitely is a very strong music scene in South Africa. It can be very diverse, although the three most popular genres according to me would be as follows: Hip-Hop would be at number-one; most of our major radio stations are focusing on the current international boom in this genre. Secondly, the Afrikaans music industry has been a top seller in our country for many years and is still one of the strongest and quickest-growing.

Lastly, and my personal favourite; we have a flourishing underground scene that includes every genre from folky singer/songwriters to Metal to Ska-Jazz and so much more. This last category is the most diverse and also the smallest but it tends to have a very close following of dedicated listeners which appeals to me.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

I must say I would love to have the new E.P. done and dusted and ready to release. This has also been my first year playing some major festivals and I am really looking forward to playing those as well. In all honesty, this year has been so great thus far that I don't really even know if I can expect anything more from it.



Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?

I think it's hard to pick one moment. They all sort of amalgamate into one big blur of awesome experiences but, if I have to choose, I would probably say my first performance at my high-school was a major moment for me. That's about eight years back now and, at that point, I didn't even know how much I loved doing this but it planted a seed. It was an amazing night. 

Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Firstly; Damien Rice's O

He recorded this with a small 8-track recorder in many cities across Europe and you can hear the true emotion and delicacy in every single word that he sings.

Secondly; Ben Howard's Every Kingdom

This story is similar in that this whole album and the E.P.s running up to it were recorded in a barn by Ben and his two band members. The feelings and emotions are so real that it almost feels like you can touch them.

Lastly; Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales

It was probably the first artistic work that got me to think and dream in a musical fashion and I have been listening to it since my first ever road trip. It is arguably one of Jack's most honest and serious albums which has grown on me so much. It's like watching Friends for fifteen years and laughing and finding new jokes every single time you watch it again.



If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

Definitely Damien Rice…

I would not want much from a rider perspective - maybe just a bottle of good wine and a quiet room with an old-school record player so that we can share inspiration and talk about the processes we follow. I would love to pick his mind and truly understand the inner-workings of his writing and recording processes.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Just be you: only you can sound like you and that's the only thing that puts you aside from every other artist out there. Also; keep pushing a dream that you believe in, not someone else’s.


PHOTO CREDIT: Greylin…Photography

Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?

My next festival dates in South Africa are 27th September at White Mountain Acoustic Festival and then over New Year’s at Smoking Dragon. Both these festivals take place in the beautiful Drakensberg and are a must-see for music and nature lovers alike. 

Might you come to the U.K. and play? Do you like the music here?

It is one of my all-time dreams to do a tour in the U.K. and myself and my team are hard at work trying to make it happen.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Matt Holubowski

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

My current favourite new artists include Matt Holubowski and Aliocha as well as some South African acts such as Bad Peter and Stone Jets.



Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Yes, of course. I love woodwork and building this around my house (sometimes, I only manage to destroy them) and I also love traveling and hiking and being in nature. Most of the time, however, I spend my time of playing The Sims 4.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).

Please could you play Shrike by Hozier


Follow Werner Bekker