Music Exchange: Inspiration, you tricky beast

Music Exchange: Inspiration, you tricky beast
By Martin Myers

Martin Myers

By Martin Myers
@martinmyers

I have been privileged over the years to work with some of the most creative musical minds who inspire me on a daily basis and who bring joy to countless South Africans.

Some are household names, others appeal to the select few, and some are rising stars, but they all have one thing in common: they are creators, and are thus at the mercy of inspiration striking whenever it deems fit to do so. From poets to painters, all have their creative peak period, though.

The thrust and idea of this column came about after I spent last weekend working on a television advertisement with an artist I manage. What transpired was the song they filmed was written in the wee hours of the morning, so hence the question, when to create?

Bass player Victor Masondo wrote the original music for, amongst other things, the closing ceremony for the FIFA World Cup 2010. Victor’s magic it would seem is realised first thing in the morning. That’s when, for him, the new melodies come to mind in a rough state, but the arrangements? Those happen at night.

RJ Benjamin was even more specific “When inspiration comes, no matter what time of day or night, take it! Inspiration can come from a bird tweeting, or a line in a movie. Creating is an amazing feeling, a natural high, and it is a wonderful addiction to have.”

Alistair Izobel and Billy Monama (guitarist), seem to have 2am down as their collective creative time. Alistair always wants to strike when the gush of inspiration happens. When that happens he composes at the piano. He uses the M Audio system, at home, and is writing a new show at the moment called ‘Kaapse Musiek in Colour’ that opens in about three weeks time.

Another artist, Roeshdien Jaz, sleeps with an A5 book and pencil next to his bed, but everyone I chatted to all made it clear that when the inspiration comes, get it down in whatever method possible.

The poet Siphokazi Jonas finds the creative process being unlocked when she’s cooking or cleaning her home or driving, that’s when the raw material gets put down, with the refinement taking place at around 2am, that her real hot spot of creativity.

My wife, an artist and painter, is inspired when it rains. That’s when she creates her best work.

Another point I noticed, while sitting in the recording studio this past week, is there’s no clock. Creativity seems to know no boundaries. Now if only all the 2am creative types could transfer their thoughts, telepathically, to one another… that would be a mind blast!

By the way, the shooting for the fifty second video started at 7am and was supposed to end at 6pm.Well at 9pm it was still going strong! So much for a time limit on creativity. It clearly knows no boundaries!

Gig of the week: at Straight no Chaser

Friday and Saturday, May 22 and 23: The Kyle Shepherd Trio

That Kyle Shepherd was, yet again, overlooked by the South African Music Awards this year, says more about the SAMAs than it does about Shepherd. His nominated album, ‘Dream Time’, is a complex listen. It incorporates not only the history of South African jazz, but also modern classical, traditional African sounds, and street smart contemporary tones – hardly mainstream radio listening. Adventurous ears will, however, be rewarded this weekend when Kyle showcases recorded, new and unreleased compositions from his repertoire with Shane Cooper (bass) and Jonno Sweetman (drums).

“Those fragments of musical home that have always characterised his compositions and playing are still there; the reworkings, though, are often unexpected and subtle, emerging from a modern and personal pianism that isn’t in anybody’s shadow,” says newspaper journalist Gwen Ansell.

Admission: R80 per set, or R140 all night. The first set starts at 8.30pm, with the second starting at 10pm.