Fri. Nov 27th, 2020

#MusicExchange: Rapid-fire Q&A with singer-songwriter David Watkyns

This multi-talented Cape Town vocal powerhouse is also an ace pianist and trumpeter.

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Versatile recording artist and songwriter David Watkyns is known for his piano-driven music with classic instrumentation, big trumpet solos, and lyrics of love and lust.

This top local talent has performed alongside artists such as Arno Carstens; Mike Rutherford of Genesis and Mike and the Mechanics fame; Zolani Mahola; Jimmy Dludlu and many others.

Watkyns’s performances have taken him across South Africa, including to festivals such as Oppikoppi and Rocking the Daisies. He has played in Asia and Europe, and in the UK has appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Watkyns has a Bachelor of Music degree in jazz studies from the  University of Cape Town (UCT). 

The South African catches up with David Watkyns

The new decade means?

New opportunities to create music and media to new audiences, with new platforms and new technologies!

Fame is about?

Fame is about the ability to reach lots of diverse people, and have influence and responsibility to be a good example and voice of good.

Retirement will happen when?

I can see a retirement from performing, when I’m unable to travel and perform to a high standard, but I cannot imagine being alive and not writing new music.

I don’t do?

I don’t eat oysters, but I’ll try everything once!

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David Watkyns is not only a fine singer-songwriter, but an ace on the piano and trumpet too. Image: Supplied

What does music mean to you?

Music is the expression of love, imagination, dreams, loss and all the emotions we go through in life. It is creativity, it is enjoyment and it is therapy.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work?

Sharing experiences with strangers/ friends/ family and giving them joy and entertainment.

Any funny moments on stage?

I am bad at knowing my limits on stage. It leads to falling, tripping and jumping off things I thought were safe. I easily get carried away on stage.

Your heroes?

Ah, so many! People who create their art with conviction and are true to themselves. Elton John, Billy Joel, Gregg Alexander, Johnny Clegg, Hugh Masekela.

What is your most treasured possession?

My wife and boy.

It’s your round — what are you drinking?

Castle Light, tequila, Jägermeister, and Southern Comfort and lime, in that order.

Dream gigs to do?

Glastonbury Pyramid Stage, Radio City Music Hall, BBC Proms.

What makes you stand out?

My voice, trumpet, unique stories and instrumentation.

Nicknames?

Watty Watts, Watkind Watkyns

If you were not a musician what would you do?

I’d be an actor or soccer player.

Pick five words to describe yourself

Energetic, sincere, scared, passionate, reckless.

Five favourite SA albums of all time?

  • A Cry A Smile A Dance by Judith Sephuma
  • Grazing In The Grass: The Best of Hugh Masekela
  • King of Time by Johnny Clegg
  • Wonderful Wild by Arno Carstens
  • The Hanging Gardens of Beatenberg by Beatenberg

Watch the music video for David Watkyns’s Magic below:

Greatest movie ever made?

The Shawshank Redemption.

Song that changed your life? 

That’s a hard question… probably I Fall In Love Too Easily by Chet Baker or Shiver by Coldplay and, more recently, Sincerity Is Scary by The 1975… all massively important for totally different reasons.

Who do you love?

My family.

What is your favourite word?

Revelry!

Favourite fashion item?

Shoes, especially New Balance sneakers — 247s or 574s.

Top of your bucket list?

I still haven’t been to New York. That’s probably top.

Your greatest achievement?

Having a happy, adventurous, loving family. 

In music, playing at the Isle Of Wight festival or the moment I released my first independent record.

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Happiness, for David Watkyns, is all about ‘being in the moment, being content and taking risks’. Image: Supplied

What do you complain about most often?

Lack of sleep. Lack of food. Lack of good sound gear.

What is your fear?

Heights, sharks and people who don’t have empathy.

Happiness is?

Being in the moment. Being content. Taking risks. Giving. Receiving. 

On stage I tend to?

Lose myself.

The best life lesson you have been taught?

Trust yourself. 

Do you get worked up while watching a sports game on TV?

YES!!!!!!!! I shout, I punch, I cry. I love sport, mostly football.

Where would you like to be right now?

I’m happy where I am.

Do you do charity work?

I’ve always loved working with children from diverse backgrounds — giving them opportunities to produce music, experience music, learn music. This past month I was involved with Music for Meals and I’m sure there will be many more opportunities coming up.

Wishes and dreams?

To grow and share more wonderful experiences with my family, and to have a long, successful career in music locally and internationally. 

Also read: #MusicExchange: Rapid-fire Q&A with Springbok Nude Girls’ Theo Crous

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