“ My mother is Portuguese and my father is South African, I grew up in London and Cape Town. I love culture and stories, this all adds to influence. All the experiences I have had in my life add to the mix. I love anarchy, I love literature and I love the way music feels when you hear it, how it feels to write it and play it.”
INTERVIEW: RICK DE LA RAY
IMAGES: HAYDEN PHIPPS
You are currently recording your first solo album with producer Mathew Fink – he really has a flare with bringing out the best in local bands and musicians. What was the approach you took on the recording process and when will the album be released?
The album will be released this summer, the approach was to keep it close to its live presentation and have a good time while doing it
Are you still being represented by Just Music, what sort of relationship do you have with them?
Yes, I have re-signed with Just as a solo artist, I enjoy working with them – they do not impose consumerist and capitalist bullshit onto my songwriting and they are a rad team. What lead to the break up or split from machineri, if I may ask? You guys were definitely getting a lot of attention for a while. It seems that your solo career is your main priority now…machineri was an unforgettable trip. I had some of the greatest shows I can remember in that project. That was the band for my early twenties and I learnt a lot from it but now the evolution must continue.
Have you decided on a title for the first album and can we expect another classic cover like the machineri one which was done by the legendary Storm Thorgerson, who passed away last year?
Storm’s work on the machineri cover can undoubtedly stand up with the rest of the masterpieces he did for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, etc. I will always be so proud to have been a part of that, bless his soul. The title for the new album will be DELTA ROCK SERPENTE MASJIEN and no it won’t be as good as Storm’s machineri cover, but yes I will try and come up with something good. No pressure.
How did you manage to get Storm to do the album cover for machineri in the first place?
A friend of a friend of a friend…
In what way do you feel your sound has changed since you started playing solo, what influences your soul right now?
I have always written music for bands crossing many genres, ranging from old rock, folk, celtic, reggae, dance, delta, etc. I have always done that and still continue to do this as I love and am inspired by so many genres and performers. machineri was very raw, the solo stuff is not as raw and I am playing all the guitars so it will sound different in this way. You will have to wait and listen to the album.
Is Sannie your real name – seems very Afrikaans? The first time I heard your name I assumed it was “Sonny” – can you fill us in on a bit of your family background?
Yes, Sannie is my name. I am named after my groot Ouma on my dad’s side, Sannie Uys. I come from a long line of artists on both sides of my family, Sannie Uys played violin, piano and was a writer. She was also the mother of Uys Krige, the South African poet. There are actors, film directors, musicians, poets and architects all growing on my family tree. It comes with the territory.
What elements or influences would you say have molded you into the individual that you are today?
A wide variety of music, I was exposed to a lot of blues, gospel and jazz in my ears from a young age. I began to play piano as a small girl and then I switched to guitar. My mother is Portuguese and my father is South African, I grew up in London and Cape Town. I love culture and stories, this all adds to influence. All the experiences I have had in my life add to the mix. I love anarchy, I love literature and I love the way music feels when you hear it, how it feels to write it and play it.
You had a SAFTA best actress nomination in 2009 for the film ‘LONG STREET’ – do you see yourself still getting involved in any other acting jobs in the future or are you shelving that line of work for the moment while you concentrate on your music.
I have an agent and I go to castings / auditions. If there is ever an opportunity for a good role then I would always be up for it, hell yeah.
Are there certain recurring themes in your lyrics, what inspires you to write down words and thoughts towards a new song?
I write about water a lot, water is a theme that is often there and perhaps it stems from living in Cape Town. I write about ideas, failure and dreams. I personify things, it varies, I love stories too and poetry and politics. It depends on what sort of words go with what kind of music. Recently, I wrote a song called ‘No Bride’ which is inspired by the idea of a bride not pitching up at the altar, the jilted groom. This song is inspired by real men that I know, who are useless when it comes to relationships, life and work. I think it’s funny so I write a song about it and the words go, “no bride today, no bride tomorrow, waiting all night, where she been, she never arrived at the wedding”, Ag shame.
What comes first, the melody or the lyrics – how do you go about constructing a new song?
It depends, either way, it changes all the time.
You have an up and coming UK tour happening soon. How did that come about, is there a lot of interest in your music form that side of the world right now?
I guess we are going to find out now, aren’t we. I am actually answering these questions from an Internet Cafe in South Kensington and the weather is fabulous. I go into my first rehearsal with my UK band tomorrow. Very excited, there are definitely a lot of people messaging me and asking me where and when are the shows, I think there may be some lovely turnouts.
What are your expectations from this UK tour, do you have any hopes or fears that you might want to share with us?
I am generally feeling pretty good about it to be honest. Fears – my pedals get lost or my guitar breaks. Otherwise, it‘s an incredible time of year here, the streets are packed, the weather is super hot and it’s sunny until 10 every night. Hopes – people will follow the music from here and I will be able to create more opportunities to travel and share the music with as many people across the globe as possible.
Do you manage yourself or do you have some one that takes care of your bookings and PR?
I do a lot myself, I have been managing and booking since I was a teenager so I know what comes with the territory. It’s best to have a small team of people that you know you can trust. I have a small number of people who I work with. I am and will always be very involved with the running of my music career. You have to be on the same wavelength, it takes time to find the right people and you have to try and learn along the way.
Do you consider yourself to be part of the psych movement happening at the moment – to me your music is quite diverse and can be slotted into quite a few genres, with a common thread of blues holding it all together? You’re even part of the Cape Town World Music Festival this year.
You are correct in saying the music slots into a few genres for sure, so one of those genres is definitely psych. At World Music Fest I am playing gospel, writing in Portuguese, covering Malian blues and singing in French, it’s very varied! I have been part of the psych vibe in Cape Town from the early start and continue to enjoy being involved. Recently, the last show with The Golden Animals from Boston was a really cool experience to be part of. It’s great to meet artists from different countries and show them a bit of South African hospitality and to share the music.
We have so many music festivals happening in this country now – which ones do you feel are the most important to play at and which are your personal favourites?
The big ones are always good to play, Splashy Fen (I think the oldest big fest in SA), Oppi for sure, Daisies, etc. One of my personal favorites is Up the Creek because it’s small and the location is so beautiful, Swellendam is a magical place. My ancestors come from there so maybe it’s a historical bias and it’s HOT there at that time of year. World Music Festival might just have shot to the top of my list as the menu of artists to watch is diverse and anyone who brings – VIEUX FARKA TOURE to play in SA is my number one. Kleinmond Blues Festival is also pretty lovely.
Please can you give us five of your most influential albums that helped shape the sound of Sannie Fox?
What a great question, though you know I can’t possibly sum up all my influences in five albums.
5 SEEDS OF THE FOX
JOHN LEE HOOKER
INFO – SANNIE FOX
LISTEN – SOUNDCLOUD