Hanru Niemand has been part of the SA Music scene since 2003. He’s quietly made a name for himself among music aficionados. He also boasts a small cult following that reaches from Cape Town to Europe.
His compelling music features finely-honed lyrics with strong folk elements and has been likened to the tunes of erstwhile legends like Koos du Plessis, Jacques Brel en Herman van Veen. Some of his works have been translated to Finnish and Russian by some of these languages’ foremost translators.
You probably don’t know much about Hanru Niemand, but this article will definitely change that.
Here are 10 facts you didn’t know about Hanru Niemand:
1. He works as a clinical psychologist and deals with people with depression, anxiety, and trauma on a daily basis. Before he started working in private practice, he spent three years working in correctional services. It started with a yearlong community-service placement in the Western Cape, where his girlfriend (now his wife) was living, so he applied for positions he thought no one else would want. He was right.
2. He holds a Ph.D., but weirdly not in psychology. After completing his psychology research for his training, he decided that research in psychology is tedious. Instead, he did his doctoral research in political philosophy.
3. He once played a gig at a driving range. The folk duo Just Folking Around (Hanru and his mate Kaalvoet du Toit), once scored a gig at De Kelder restaurant in Somerset West, which overlooks the local driving range. The rhythmic ping of golf balls provided for a surprisingly pleasant atmosphere.
4. While he was recording his first album (Tot Stilte) in Pretoria in 2006, he once took a rough mix to a friend to have a listen. Within minutes, his bakkie with all his gear was stolen. The same bakkie was later used in an armed robbery.
5. Despite being quite unfamous in South Africa, his songs have been translated in Russian by a noted translator.
6. His unique finger-picking style was developed by accident. He started taking guitar lessons at age 9 and stopped at age 13, by which time he could strum basic chords just fine. When he started performing regularly, he would often have to play without a band and found his sound to be quite empty.
At the same time, he rediscovered records from folk greats such as Ralph McTell and Don McLean. Trying to copy them, he stumbled upon some style of his own that seems to fill the empty spaces between words.
7. He has a song that has been evolving for over 16 years. It is a parody medley of bad Afrikaans music called ‘Ek het ‘n Afrikaanse liedjie geskryf’. It has had many incarnations over the last 16 years, two of which have been recorded and it is by far his most requested live song.
8. Hanru Niemand is a compulsive backing vocalist. Seriously, try not to sit next to him at someone else’s show unless you want to hear some extra backing vocals. Luckily, he found some outlet when the guys from the band ‘Die Kaalkop Waarheid’ allowed him to join to do some backing vocals and extra guitar work.
9. He has a fear of heights. Despite being a therapist, he has not sought therapy for this problem, as he simply avoids it by not bungee jumping, hang-gliding or skydiving. Ever.
10. Hanru is ambidextrous, but in a way that holds no advantage. When he started school, he arbitrarily chose to learn to write right-handed, but he shoots pool both ways, plays ping pong both ways, etc. Unfortunately, he still mostly sucks at pool.
Well, there you have it, 10 facts you didn’t know about Hanru Niemand. I trust that you find this information useful. Make sure that you check him out when he’s in a town or city near you!
To get an idea of his sound, crank up his track, “Op Pad” below:
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