An Interview With Le Voyage
The local (South African) rock music scene is experiencing a mushrooming of talent of late. There are a host of new – and interesting – bands that are emerging; each with the goal of being at the vanguard of an industry that has experienced many false dawns.
In this the Age of the Hipster, sometimes there is a hype is that screams different way too many times for people to even care – let alone FaceTwit about it. With all the fresh local produce we’re being exposed to musically, it would have been a remiss of me not to wade deeper into the waters of all this “newness”. This proved to be one of my better ideas because what I discovered made a believer of me once again. A believer in that there could indeed be something to this South African rock scene version of the “baby boom” of the 50’s that has everybody wanting, or asserting, to be in a band.
I came across a trio called Le Voyage, and the band was nice enough to take some time to answer a few questions, and share a little bit of who they are.
Before we start off, how do you say the Voyage in the band’s name? Do we go all French as in bon voyage, or do we just English-the-shit-out-of-it? I ask because I have come across as a pretentious prick when saying the name while in the company of my – surprisingly judgemental – friends who have their own takes on how it is said. So please do put one of us out of our misery.
You could pronounce our name in the French – as in ‘bon voyage’ – way if you’d prefer. I guess to us it would sound silly to pronounce bon voyage in an English-the-shit-out-of-it way. Even though none of us speak fluent French, we admire the music and the culture.
Who are Le Voyage, and what is it about each member of this band that makes it fun to make music with them?
We are a three-piece rock & roll vibe band from Pretoria consisting of Wim Jansen van Rensburg (Guitar; Vocals), Adriaan (Drums; Vocals) Cruywagen and Marco Smit (Bass; Vocals). We’ve continually been having a good time since we started a year ago and we’ve become tighter at live performances, in studio and [in] the band room.
How did the band’s name come about? And what did you want it to say about the band?
Initially, our aim was to have moments where we partake in a musical journey with regards to form, and also to offer contrast from up-tempo songs to ballads. Together with a dream of maybe one day performing in Europe, it appeared to be a fitting name. Dave Grohl once said that some of the biggest bands on the planet have had silly names. And Le Voyage also looks great in print.
When was the first time you realized you were in love with making music?
For all of us music happened at an early age – between 7 to 13-years old, if not earlier.
Take us back to that moment in each of your minds when you realized that you were in an actual band, and not only by name just to meet girls?
We’ve all been in other bands before this one, and we’ve always been in it for the music. It’s not always as glamorous as it would appear and we’ve learnt not to believe the hype.
What do you individually see as being the perks of making music?
The perks are having the ability to get onto a platform where we can share what we have learnt as musicians with people who are willing to listen. It’s also a great way for us to grow and learn more.
And if you weren’t musicians, what would your “day jobs” be?
Funny enough, all of us have day jobs. Adriaan does freelance photography work, Wim teaches music and studies music with Marco at the University of Pretoria. Marco is also a super father to a little prodigy in the making.
Does the band have a specific sound, and in the midst of all that is relatively new how would you best describe that sound to somebody who has never heard the band before?
People have different tastes and opinions so to pin it down for everybody would be hard. To narrow it down however, one could expect sweet melodies, driving instrumentation and full harmonic awareness.
Which bands and artists would you say serve as inspiration for the type of music you make, and wish to continue making in the future (touch wood)?
Too many to mention, Biffy Clyro, Led Zeppelin, Foo Fighters, Incubus, Air, Phoenix, Miike Snow, Daft Punk, Rage against the Machine, NOFX, CCR, Justice, C2C even Nas, K’naan, J. Cole and everything jazz or classical so long as it’s not opera.
What stands out as the highlight(s) so far in your musical career as a band?
We had a really cool performance in our hometown – Pretoria – and Emile Swiegers shredded a set with us as we performed as a four-piece band for the first time. It was an awesome experience and we’re confident we’ll do it again if our schedules allow it.
As with every high comes a low, or a set of challenges – could you give us an example of one such challenge and how you overcame it?
Lows come often it seems, and in our experience so far from all angles, but we try keep it honest and the vibes good. There is enough dark side out there.
Every band has a troublemaker and the always-serious one. The Who had the mentalist upon which all other band ‘bad boys’ are measured – Keith Moon. Who in Le Voyage could be classed as the Moon in the band? And who is the always-serious one?
Weekend before last we bought Marco a few shots after a show, which he chucked over his shoulder as the rest of us drank ours. He was also first in bed so needless to say title of the Moon goes to Marco Smit.
What are the nicknames that the band members have, and who has the funniest one?
Wimmelicious, Adriaan Willemse and Markoek. Don’t ask anything, don’t hear anything and don’t see anything. Marco’s would also be the funny one.
What is the funniest thing that you’ve had happen to you as a band that you are pretty certain nobody else would believe?
I’m sure people would believe us on this one. We got to our hotel pretty late after our show a few weekends ago in Potchefstroom, and we pretty much trashed it. The hallway was a hot mess not even mentioning our rooms. Adriaan woke up on the floor in the fetus position, fully dressed and had slept there even though he had a whole bed to himself. We got up super early to leave town and could not help but clean up a little bit before we left.
Talking about the local music scene, what is your take on the South African music industry?
Our take on the local music industry is too lengthy to simply state in one answer, but all we have to say is that it is tough out there. Do it for the right reasons. Whatever happens will happen for a reason.
Are there things you’d change were it in your power to? What would they be?
We would like to see more venues in Gauteng and more promoters who want to book bands. From what we have gathered so far is that the [live] band industry unfortunately does not generate the same amount of capital as DJ’s do currently. But this prospect does not concern us, we will stick to our guns and we love performing so we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
Now let’s talk about your two singles “Right Back At You” and “Saw Her Come In” off your (as yet to be released) self-titled debut album; how has the reception of these singles made you feel as a band?
It’s always nice to have a positive response to ones music, just as it is discouraging to have a negative response. We are fortunate enough to say that we’ve only received positive responses to both singles so far.
How were they chosen as the two lead singles of the debut album?
We had a listen to the album as a whole and decided that they were strong contenders for the first two singles, we have also shortlisted the following singles for our next releases and we would love to launch the next single with a video.
Where have the singles been play listed, and how did you get them there?
Both singles have received eminent airplay from both campus and commercial radio stations. We seem to be doing really well on campus radio stations nationwide, and we were proud and honoured to have “Saw Her Come In” play listed on 5FM. We have also received great feedback from radio and supporters. We operate on a completely independent basis.
The album’s name is confirmed as Le Voyage, but who were the people behind the scenes who assisted in making it all possible? And how did you come to work with them on this particular project?
All of the music was composed and arranged by us. Initially we tracked the guitars, bass and vocals with Richard Brokensha (ISO). We attempted to do the drums all MIDI with Marko Benini (ISO), but we later decided that our type of music longed for real drums and Adriaan’s feel – so we set off to do exactly that with David Grevlar at Anti Motion Studios. All of the above mentioned dudes we have known before we started this band, and they were truly great producers to work with. We believe that this is a great debut and we aim on having it released digitally before November.
Before we go, where can music supporters and the music-loving public see Le Voyage perform next? And why should they come out to come see you perform – aside from your obvious good looks?
We will most probably be playing a few shows in our hometown for the next two months. Keep an eye out at Arcade Empire and at Park Acoustics. We also plan to make a mission to Durban and Cape Town, so there are a few things in the pipeline.
How can people get in touch with you?
Best way to keep in the loop would be via our social media profiles:
For bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Press: email@example.com
As a parting shot, who would Le Voyage like to give a shout-out – or a middle finger – to?
We thank our supporters, families, friends, ladies and everybody who helped us with the album. Shout out to Rogan Kelsey for the master on “Saw Her Come In”
Thank you very much. Keep rocking! I wish you all the best with your future musical endeavors. Photo of the band courtesy of AJ Howard.
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