Van T – making a name for herself
01 January 1970
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. It’s time to chat some music and we’ve got an up and coming star here in South Africa on the podcast today. It’s a great pleasure to welcome onto the show Van T. Van welcome, nice to catch up.
Van T: Hi. Thanks for having me.
BB: You’re most welcome. It’s awesome to be able to catch up and I want to really delve into your journey, into the music industry. Where you are now? Where it all started and where it’s going? Let’s start where it all started. Did you grow up in a musical family? Was there always music around in the house, growing up?
Music was always around me
VT: Yes, there was quite a lot of music but no one really played, well my mum played guitar when she was younger, and she started playing, so that’s where it comes from. I mean, I’ve always been in a family where music has been playing around at dinnertime. Yes, it’s always been a kind of escape for everyone, I think.
I think there’s little influences here and there, hearing about my grandparents playing these kinds of instruments and what kind of music they were interested in. It took me by surprise. Only once, I was in my teens that it became something prominent, ja, in a way but growing up yes I think I dabbled in things but it wasn’t as potent as it is now.
BB: Where did you develop those musical chops? Did you just start figuring out you loved music and then start pottering around? Did you go for formal training? How does it work?
VT: When I was in primary school I remember, well I think even before that I was sort of playing around. There’s a photo of me playing a scene and I don’t remember it that well but like dabbling in the instruments that were lying around the house.
I don’t even know who, except for my mum, could play. Yes, so when I was in primary school I took violin lessons and I was in the choir. I took piano here and there, but nothing kind of stuck. It was always kind of just trial and error because I think I was curious into what it means to play an instrument and what it means to create music.
When I hit my mid-teens I discovered my musical mark
Only once I was about 15 or 16, and a friend of my brothers was like well, we need a female singer for a band. My brother was like well, I think my sister can sing because he had heard me singing and play, and trying to play with a piano or a guitar. That kind of sparked the whole world of entering music for me.
BB: From a family perspective, I take it your mum and your family are pretty supportive throughout the years. In order to take violin lessons, you obviously had to have their backing. How have they reacted to this whole thing?
VT: Yes, they are very, very supportive. I think they are also kind of surprised where it’s gone and that it’s become something so important. It’s like the main priority for me, career wise. I think it’s been really great to have them see how I’ve advanced from just playing and figuring out little instruments, to actually now, with my solo stuff, being able to stand up and perform live.
I mean my gran, she actually sent me an email this morning just thinking about support and she was like just to let you know I’m your biggest fan because I’ve just recently heard that you’ve released a music video. I always send her things and she was like, and it’s always really, nice to hear that they’re enjoying what I’m creating.
BB: It must be very rewarding but pretty, daunting at the same time. Do you feel the pressure of having to come up with the next big thing, every single time you create something?
Is there pressure to keep creating music?
VT: Not really but it obviously comes into your head sometimes that you think I need too. But I made peace with it when I started deciding to release music or do things that it was going to come from a place of pure rawness, and honesty. If I wasn’t going to do that, then I was going to put aside the main reason of creating music, to create the hits, or to create something that people want to hear.
Because that wasn’t where my connection with music was lying, and it’s still not. I just really enjoy just seeing what comes. I don’t know if it is always a good thing but I almost feel like I can’t, not create music from that space, otherwise it’s not true or honest to myself.
BB: Talk to me about your creative process. Are you one of those people where it just comes whenever? It’s like you could be doing the weirdest thing, and all of a sudden inspiration hits you?
BB: Or do you sit down and actually think it through and things comes to you that way?
VT: No, I’m definitely more on the weird side of things. Yeah, I’m usually dabbling or writing, or I could be sleeping and I’m thinking of something in my head and then I’ll have to wake up and write something down, or I’ll just be bored. Then there’s the guitar lying around or I’m waiting for dinner or something like that. It can kind of come from anywhere, or I sing in the shower, and that’s sort of how it comes up.
What music has influenced you?
BB: I love that. Who have been some of your biggest musical influences growing up?
VT: I think definitely some of the golden oldies like Bob Dylan. I’m a big fan of Bob Dylan, and The Doors and Fleetwood Mac, and The Beatles and those kinds of artists. I think the old folk’s scene and, also the blues, there’s JJ Cale and a whole bunch of other guys that I listen a lot.
BB: Who would be your dream line-up to perform with?
VT: It’s a tough one because I’ve always been thinking about this. You think about who I’m listening to now but from the old school, all the old school guys, I think I’d definitely love to still want to play with Bob Dylan. Maybe new age, there’s a folk artist from London called Johnny Flynn. I’ve watched some videos online and I think it would be great to see him perform live and perform live with him.
BB: What we’re going to do is, I can chat to you for hours but I think we’re going to save another chat for another podcast. Just where we’ll talk about the band that you were in, when you first got started and then that switch from going from a band to going solo, but we’ll save that for another time. I loved chatting to you today. We look forward to doing it again soon. Have yourself a super, super day.
VT: Awesome. Thank you so much.