Boo will be making sounds and faces at Park Acoustics on Sunday. The Pretorian had a chat with Chris Chameleon about having multiple personalities, playing Sarel Fourie in a movie and Ingrid Jonker's resonating voice.
So, how’s it going these days?
It’s going in overdrive.
Which came first, the name or the whole being a chameleon thing?
It is something I have always noticed in all people, that chameleonesque tendency to change, adapt according to circumstances. in the early 90’s I decided to take that general aspect of all humanity and identify with it in my own name.
I gave the new album a listen and felt a very connected dynamic, lots of passion and sounds that would look like lovers gazing into each others eyes. Why do you think that is?
Perhaps, because you have a good ear for truth?
This is your first collaboration apart from the band. How did that come about?
I read Daniella’s poetry over a year ago. It festered, flowed and swirled in my mind and heart for months and eventually compelled me to put it to music.
How is the process different from say your solo albums?
In composing poetry, my main objective is to unlock what I believe to be the inherent melody of the words. I would describe that process more as ‘unlocking’ than ‘composing’. In my own albums the words sometimes come forced, the melody at other times, and mostly they come simultaneously. It is different in that I am then too close to both to view them objectively enough to ‘unlock’ things. In composing poetry, I am a farmer, in the completeness of my own work. I am a crop.
How is poetry different from lyrics or are they pretty much the same thing?
They are the same thing, but different a) in that lyrics are sometimes created to suit the melody and b) poetry is completely dedicated to the text, not considering the requirements subsequent melody may impose.
Can you describe the process of turning poetry into music?
Every word has a color, a weight, and historic stigma. I tend to read a line several times, immersing myself into the mood of its contents and then I start strumming around on the guitar, until I find the sound that best emulates this feeling. That is my cue and once I am in the matched emotional zone the rest follows rather quickly, smoothly and if it is good, without me really knowing or understanding how it plays out.
Extended harmonies seem to help poetry translate into music. What other things do you use to make music from poetry?
I never use anything. Things put themselves to use. As in most ‘creative’ arts, the idea is to free yourself of expectation, prejudice, your own ego and the intellect, and finding that magical groove, the flow that presents ‘creation’ through you as a medium, rather than a ‘creator’. Whereas I like to get all brainy and cognitive about things in discussion, in my work, I try to remove the grey matter as much as possible.
I’ve never been able to truly describe my connection to Ingrid Jonker. Are you able to describe yours and if so what is that description?
She is a pitchfork and so am I and when hers vibrates mine resonates.
I remember you played a teen junkie way back in “Netwerk”. What’s your view on drugs?
You have not taken enough to deprive you of your memory of things so far in the past!
You played a blind musician in 7de Laan. How did you prepare for that role and did you go blind for a while to get a feeling of what it is to be blind?
It was not I that was blind, but Dezi. I was just lamed. Maybe you did take that many drugs after all!
You’ve been able to cater for so many ears and music tastes. Is there a secret to doing that?
If it was a secret it will be no more once I answer you: the key is to let art reflect life. The work of the average musician is less interesting than the life of the average bank clerk. Because most musicians commit to a particular genre for a lifetime and stick to it, whereas a bank clerk may in one day be a father, a husband, a pal, a rival, a cheat, a hero, a slave and a master – thus expressing himself, manifesting, in a greater variety of ways than most musicians in an entire lifetime. So by being true to oneself, and letting life lead you away from your resolve to commit to a particular form of expression, one may excel in a great variety of expressions and resonate with a great many different ears.
Sarel Fourie is such an awesome character and deserves his own show or movie. Would you ever consider going in that direction?
He nowadays makes an appearance at almost every one of my solo shows! I love him. He is positive, not jaded and hungry as a wolf.
How much effort and artistry actually went into the Sarel album?
Much. Die Heuwels Fantasties and I helped him put it together and we committed ourselves fully to making the best album for him that we could.
It’s been three years since the last Boo album. When can we expect a new Boo record?
Recording early next year.
Can you tell me a bit about Pretoria? Do you have a relationship with her and if so what kind of relationship do you have?
As a Joburger Pretoria is my hotter cousin at a lower altitude, who speaks my native tongue, Afrikaans, better than Jozi does, affords me less anonymity and bears more landmarks of my people’s history. Pretoria is therefore welcome in my heart at all times and often resides there.
Why do you think music is so important to people?
Because it enters through that cavity you can’t close at will, like your eyes or tongue or nose. Because it starts out as a physical stimulus which eventually goes through the heart to move the soul.
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