PETER TROMP spoke to DANNY K on the eve of ‘Rocking Our City’, GrandWest CSI’s variety show to be staged at the Grand Arena on Saturday November 24. The SA pop star will share the stage with the likes of Loyiso Bala, Zayn Adam, Karen Kortje and James Bhemgee as they rock out for a good cause.
How did you get involved with ‘Rocking The City’?
I was approached by the organizers, who have had enormous success over the years with the format. I’ve never been a part of it before so I was excited to lend my name because it sounded like it would be a great show.
What can audiences look forward to with the show and in particular with your performance?
I’m going to be performing a collection of songs spanning my career and starting from the ‘It Hurts So Bad’ days up to my most recent album, as well as tribute to the Shout! campaign. Obviously there are other great artists on the bill, so I’m sure there will be something for everyone. It’s going to be fun.
You don’t seem to perform in Cape Town very often. Is there a particular reason for this?
I don’t perform very well at sea level. (laughs) That’s a joke. I’ve been overseas recording my latest album for most of this year. I think the last time I performed in Cape Town was maybe eight months ago. The first supporters of my music were Capetonians and so they hold a special in my heart. They are soul-based, R&B fans, and I like performing there.
What kind of vibe do you usually get from Cape Town audiences when you perform for them?
Every part of South Africa comes with its own identity. I know in Cape Town musicality is very important. You almost need to be competent on an instrument, so I try and show that part of me when I perform there. You definitely can’t mime in front of a Cape Town audience. (laughs) I expect a lot of noise, because Capetinans like to get down.
What do you think of the local Capetonian performers you will share the stage with?
Karen I know from her reputation from ‘Idols’. I’ve never seen her live before, so I’m looking forward to that. I’ve never seen Zayne before either. The beauty of these shows that put a whole bunch of artists together is that you get to make friends with your peers in the industry. Backstage can be quite fun on the evening.
Does being part of a line-up and not having to carry an entire show put more pressure on you, or less?
I would say being part of a great line-up puts more pressure on you, because you are following someone good, or they’re coming right after you, so you have to do a good job. I’m usually quite competitive in these kinds of environments, so it pushes me to another level.
You appear to really avail yourself for these special cause events. Why is that?
It’s been a part of my upbringing. I was taught to think of things other than myself. The people most in need in our country are children, so I’m very happy to be a part of this event. It really is a pleasure for to do what I do, which is music and raise money and awareness in that way. I try and do it as much as I can.
Do you think being a performer in South Africa carries with it more of a social responsibility than it would in other countries?
Yes. I think you hit the nail on the head there. In SA fame and fortune comes with an enormous responsibility, and you need to be aware of that. It’s almost expected of you to give back, and you become conscious of using that celebrity currency in the right avenues, not just on yourself. I’ve always admired people like Bono and Leonardo DiCaprio with his climate change work, people that have their hearts in the right place.
Let’s talk about your music. Where would you describe your sound as being at, at the moment?
My last album was kind of a departure for me because it was a more rock infused, electronic sound. I’m taking that further right now on the new album. We are experimenting with big club sounds and there are quite a few housy tracks, with a big SA housy sound particularly coming through. Basically we are into the big electro sounds that are popular right now. I have to change to what is current, which is a consequence of having been around for longer than a minute.
What about the lyrical themes?
Well, it varies. There’s quite a feel-good presence overall. I just got married, so the mood is quite happy, quite lovey. It’s kind of where I am at in my life, which is a positive space. There are also themes of being given second chances, of which I have had numerous during my life.
What other artists do you draw inspiration from in your music?
I like everything from Swedish House Mafia to Frank Ocean. I like a lot of the big DJ’s like David Guetta and Calvin Harris.
I think what I try and do, even when it is a dance track I’m working on, is to write a melody and lyrics that’s my own style. It’s that R&B influence of mine that is forever coming through.
Complete the following sentence: “Danny K, the person is…”
Hard working, humorous and tenacious.
* The show starts at 8pm and tickets are available from Computicket between R150 to R220.