Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Interview with Jeremy Olivier: A rock star with soul!

If you haven't heard the name Jeremy Olivier - you are missing out. In fact I know I was missing out until I saw his You Tube video of Serendipity.  And so I had the awesome privilege of being able to interview him and find out more about this talented musician and to keep you all in the loop!  I thought that I had best interview him quickly before I have to make an appointment to talk to him once he reaches international stardom!

Tell me a little about who you are and your family 
Well, my name is Jeremy. I am a guitarist and vocalist, husband and father of five. We live in Capri, Cape Town and our lives are an exciting journey together. Because my work has me away from home most nights and many weekends, we spend lots of time together during the day, while most families are at work/school. Homeschooling makes that possible and enables us to really 'do life' together. We wouldn't have it any other way! Work wise, I have been privileged to play with so many wonderful musicians and some great artists in my career so far, like Johnny Clegg, Judith Sephuma, Jonathan Butler to name a few. A few big highlights have been singing backing vocals for George Benson and playing guitar for Katherine Jenkins. Besides gigging, I am also regularly commissioned to write music for various animations, like 'Bokkie' for the Springboks and 'Sharkie' for the Sharks rugby teams and TV ads as well as lots of other studio session work ... but this year, something has shifted ... it just feels like it is now my time to be seen and known as an artist. Exciting times!

Where do you originate from?
Born in Zambia, raised in Zimbabwe and moved to Cape Town in 1995 to study Jazz Performance at University of Cape Town and obtained my honours degree in 1999.

What instruments can you play?
Guitar and Bass, and a little piano and sax

How would you describe your music for the public audience if they have never seen or heard you before?
Singer-songwriter, soulful, light rock in the style of John Mayer, Jason Mraz/ The Script

Thinking back to early childhood, what was your first experience with music ?
I was raised in church, so I was mostly exposed to gospel worship. My very first performance was with my dad at the age of 5, and I sang 'Something's happened to Daddy' :-)

What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music? 
I just knew at age 17 that this is what I was called to do. Nothing else was an option.

What can people expect to see at a live performance?
The audience definitely determines what is drawn out in the performance, so it is different every gig, but every time I perform I leave my heart and soul in the song. It is wonderful when people respond and are touched by the performance.

If you could describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?
Honest, catchy, relevant, uplifting

Have you ever entered a contest to promote your music? 
I entered a Hansa Pilsner "Cool Sounds" competition about 12 years ago with the song I wrote to propose to my wife, Nicole. I came 3rd.

What are your songs about? (themes you cover)
 Love, life and hope - just can't write a depressing song! I must be a happy guy! :-)

How long have you been performing live? 
For 22 years now - I started at the age of 14 gigging and touring Zim in a rock 'n roll band. I've come a long way since then, but I am so grateful for those early experiences. Those were invaluable life lessons.

What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?
Sending our first song to radio stations and having Cape Town's biggest station (Kfm) be the first to play list it, playing it during prime time straight away! That is unheard of in this business, apparently.

If you categorise your music, what genre would it fit best?
Light rock with a soulful edge.

What are your immediate music career goals ?(next 1 to 3 years)
To break into the international market.

What is the greatest challenge for you?
I can't say there are any challenges at the moment. I have an amazing team around me with my wife as my manager and a fantastic publicist who both believe in me and are working day and night to get me out there. The musicians I play with, like Frank Paco, Shaun Johannes are like brothers to me and have really got my back (like getting up at 4am after 2 hours sleep to play with me on the Expresso show!). I am blessed with awesome people all around me!

You’ve heard of the saying “starving artists” before, how do you cope with major obstacles?
 Again, I've just been blessed with work from all angles, so I've always been able to support my family.

What does your family think of your performance and do they support you?
They are my biggest fans! :-)

Do you have any favourite types of music and is it different from what you play now?
I couldn't say I have a favourite style, I just love and appreciate all styles of music. I would say Jazz has been my foundation but music from artists like John Mayer, The Script, Jason Mraz have shaped my style into what it is now.

Do you have any other interests or talents you would like to share with us? How do you enjoy relaxation time away from your music?
I love to play golf, although I don't get to do it very often. My downtime (especially after a gig) is to catch up on sport on TV, but my favourite thing to do is to chill with my family - sitting on the veranda, glass of wine in hand, next to my precious wife watching the kids play in the garden. Bliss :-)

Does anyone in particular influence your music?
I would say George Benson, John Mayer, The Script, Jason Mraz

Tell us of the most embarrassing moment, if you care to share it with us? 
I once mistook a manager of a very prestigious restaurant for the manager at the Wimpy (they looked alike in my defence) ... we bumped into him and his girlfriend (who knew me well) at Pick 'n Pay and as she went to introduce us, I said, "Yes, I remember you. We eat at the Wimpy all the time!" To which they both forced out a little confused smile as my wife elbowed me and tried to change the subject. They must have been baffled for the rest of the day, thinking, 'What did the Wimpy have to do with anything?' Ha ha!

What are your up to date performance plans - new releases -?
I have just completed a four track EP now available for digital download .

What did you do before you got into the music industry? 
Nothing!I have only ever been a musician. I used to teach guitar at Silvermine Academy and Bishops (Diocesan College) in Cape Town, but stopped a few years ago to concentrate on performing and composing as the demand and opportunities increased.

What do you attribute to your “drive as an artist?” 
Belief that this is what I am called to do. It's so easy, like breathing.

What do you think makes you and your type of music unique from other artists?
Knowing who I am and being comfortable in my own skin - not trying to be something I'm not.

As an artist how would you define success? 
Reaching millions and touching them with my music.

Jeremy Olivier's latest music video: Serendipity
Is there anyone special you would like to thank for making your dream come true as an artist?
I would like to thank my wife and manager and co-songwriter, Nicole, who is my inspiration and my best friend. My parents for always believing in me and for putting me through university. Our publicist, Noelene, for working tirelessly and being 100% committed to getting me out there. And every person in the music industry who has helped shape me as an artist and opened up doors for me in music. I am richly blessed with the best team of people around me.

How can people stay up to date with what you are doing - do you have a fan base, newsletter?
The website has a gig guide which is updated monthly, but even better is my Facebook fan page which we update regularly and post all sorts of news/links and events information.

I am so grateful to Jeremy for taking the time to answer all of these questions from someone who is clearly no music expert but loves his tunes!  Go ahead and support him!  I look forward to seeing Jeremy Olivier making waves in the music industry, and impacting many more people.

Linking up to: Raising Homemakers

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