The man with the guitar!
by Genevieve Vieira
With so many new names entering the SA music scene, an artist who aims to make it in these markets, will have to offer something different, and display a unique set of characteristics, in order to be different. Werner Bekker, a 23-year-old singer and songwriter from Linden in Johannesburg, plays his guitar lying face-up on his lap. With this unusual way of playing the 6-string, he also complements his music by uniquely using his guitar as his own percussive instrument. I met up with Werner on behalf of Stage and Screen, to learn some more about this Alive Again Artist.
On first impression, Werner Bekker is scrawny and shy, very much approachable, but he doesn’t really come into his own until he gets up on stage. He stepped onto the scene with his debut EP, Laliath in 2015, which was followed by A Northern Summer in 2017. To follow that success, Werner had his single Run, and then released Alive Again, before his latest single last week, I’m With You.
Werner’s roots in music grew from him being born into a musically driven family. With a father being a touring musician, and a young Werner being a young and loyal travelling companion, being raised into a musician in his own right, was inevitable. “Apparently I used to cry on long journeys in the car and they would put music on for me to mumble along to,” he recalls them saying.
Describing his mother as someone who did “all sorts of pretty things on canvas, furniture and glass”, Werner comes from a long line of creatives and his talents extend beyond music. If not a musician, Werner would likely have been a woodworker. “I love building things with my hands. Alternatively I’d probably be a hippie in an off-the-grid community somewhere is South America.”
This is not surprising, since Werner most certainly looks the part. Being based in Jozi, the central hub for musicians in SA, Werner cannot escape the hustle and bustle of city life and is hard at work trying to make ends meet. “I’ve been performing on the local circuit for the last five years and will continue to make a name for myself” he said.
Understanding that talent isn’t all you need to be successful, Werner has really begun to invest a lot more time and money into his career, giving music his all. With this concerted effort and his non-stop drive, his career is flourishing.
After the release of Alive Again earlier this year, Werner introduced a new and equally heartfelt composition I’m With You. The song is easy listening with the beautiful sounds of cello complementing his household folk guitar licks.
Asked about the new single, he explained, “It’s a metaphor. The song is about the phases of grief one goes through when a relationship ends. The relationship in this song is represented by an old car that continuously breaks down. This song, like all of my songs is based on events that happened in my life thus far. I like to be real and write from the heart, so I’ll typically write a melody and then follow the emotion it makes me feel to write the lyrical content.”
Having recently shot the music video to accompany the song, it seems Werner Bekker has been playing with fire. Literally! “The making of this music video was great. We played around with fire a bit and almost got ourselves seriously injured… but it was safe enough. Most of the major flames were added in during the post production of the video.”
Looking back, it’s been a tough year, a lot of hard work and graft, but Werner has come a long way and is forever grateful. “I must say I think all of the festivals thus far have been highlights of my year, as well as my Cape Tour,” he reminisces. “I think my best memories however, are from home, spending time with my family and friends, recording the album with Deon Volschenk and Ruan Graaff and having that working relationship blossom into a great friendship.”
Talking about home life, Werner has spent the better part of this year learning to make his own guitar, combining his love for musical instruments and woodwork. Thoroughly enjoying the process, Werner is documenting his guitar-making journey across social media.
Werner Bekker now plans to release a new EP before the end of the year, but only if all goes according to plan.
This interview was voluntarily conducted by her, and acted purely as a trusted contributor to Stage and Screen. The views depicted in this review, are that of the contributor and the interviewee, but edited and published according to the established identity and standards of the publication. We thank Genevieve for the contribution, and hope for many more collaborations to come.