So, how’s Koos Kombuis doing theses days?

Hi, like everyone else I’m simply trying to survive in the New South Africa with all its paradoxes, contrasts and challenges.

You matriculated in Pretoria. What’s your relationship with Pretoria like?

I hated Pretoria when I first arrived there, but things got better once my parents had me locked up in a rehab place, where I met lots of interesting people. I have since discovered that Pretoria is one of the cultural hot spots of South Africa, even if they don’t have a Wine Route.

Have you been to any high school reunions?

I only attended one high school reunion, and I’m determined never to attend another one. It was a terrible shock, all these very old guys who claimed to be my friends, and all my ex-girlfriends who had since then turned into ou tannies.

Did you ever feel like there were too many snorre in Pretoria?

There aren’t as many snorre in Pretoria as there used to be, except during November, and even if there bare, these days having a snor has a different connotation, it’s no longer a political statement, so it’s okay.

Have you written any songs about your experiences in Pretoria?

I remember once writing a song called “Jakarandastad“, but I lost the lyrics and never recorded it. I’m glad I lost it, because it was written in the early days when I still hated Pretoria. It went something like “Jakarandastad, Jakarandastad, hier sien ek elke aand my gat“.

You’ve been everywhere known to South African Music Kind. What’s the beyond like?

This question I don’t quite understand, the syntax is too weird (?)

Did you ever get that “Huisie by die See”?

I now have a house which is quite close to the sea, though I can’t actually see the beach from here. Adding a second floor didn’t help either. But it’s okay, it takes me only ten minutes to drive down to the promenade!

There’s so much magic in that “Babylon Blues” video with James Philips and Johannes Kerkorrel. Can you tell us a bit about that day in the studio?

I don’t actually remember that day in the studio, but there’s a very cool video clip that was taken on the day we recorded that song live.

What advice would you give to a poet who cannot rhyme?

Poetry doesn’t HAVE to rhyme!

Some say you were a volksverraaier in order to be a patriot. What’s one of your best memories from those freedom fighting days?

I called myself a volksverrraaier atone stage because, by opposing apartheid, my friends and I went directly against the volk’s ideology of those days. In my next book, however, which is due to appear in August, I explain why I now once again consider myself an Afrikaner. The book is called “Vêr in die Wereld Sushi” and is to be released by Penguin SA.

As for memories: I have recorded all my memories of those days in a previous book, Short Drive to Freedom. I can’t really say those memories are pleasant, though; those were terrifyingly difficult times, and I had a serious substance abuse problem.

Your latest album “Dertien” has a lot of romantic observations with a “Don’t worry every little thing is going to be allright” vibe. What do you think?

dertien” was my first spiritual album. I wrote most of the songs sitting by a fire in the Great Karoo. I am very happy to have rediscovered my faith at this point in my life.

Do you listen to a lot of songs?

Not really. Music tends to remind me of work. However, sometimes I tune in to Jango and stream some alternative country music or old rock ‘n roll.

Who are some of your favorite songwriters?

I love Andra, Churchil Naude, Stef Bos, and anyone who can combine a good tune with meaningful lyrics.

What would you say are mind polluting words?

There are only three words I really can’t stand. They are “comrade“, “bokkie” and “glanspersoonlikheid“.

Do you still believe in Rock ‘n Roll?

I have mixed feelings about rock ‘n roll, as I myself am now in my post-rock ‘n roll phase – I have returned to my folk roots and do mostly solo gigs (which means I can’t perform songs like “Verslaaf” and “Babilon Blues” any more. Rock ‘n roll was great fun when I was younger, but it had drug connotations, which I find unpleasant, and, also, many rockers tend to be a bit sexist, by regarding girls as nothing but “groupies”. I was like that once, and I regret it.

Have you ever felt that people and the press made you into something you’re not?

I have done so much since Voëlvry, I find it hard why so many journalists still hark back to those days. I am trying to be more well-rounded person these days, an author/amateur-cartoonist/folksinger, not just a “rocker”! I wish more South Africans would read the science fiction stuff I write for overseas magazines and on Wattpad.

Not everyone is aware that Lisa and Kytie are a real people. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Yes, these are real live people, even though Kytie is dead now. Most of my songs are about people and situations in real life.

Bob Dylan recently said “Passion is a young man’s game, older people gotta be wise”. What do you think?

Amanda Strydom was once asked the same question, and she said that, as she got older as an artist, she no longer burned with the same fiery  and self-destructive intensity as in her youth, but glowed quietly like a log on a campfire. I feel the same. When I confront a large crowd of screaming young people, I like entertaining them. However, my favourite shows are intimate cabaret-like venues where people can hear every word and reflect. That is why I think I have outgrown the rock scene.

Why do you think music is so important to people?

Different music means different things to different people. I have a thirteen year old daughter who has steadily progressed from listening to High School Musical to One Direction and Miley Cyrus, and eventually she discovered the old stuff by Led Zeppelin, the Stones and even The Kinks. My fifteen year old son can spend hours listening intently to Mozart, Tchaikovsky and Liszt. To each his own.

QUESTIONS and PHOTOS|Ivan Serfontein
SKETCHES|Miri Minders