By Novell Zwange – Last week while attending the My Camp Rock 2 Roadshow organised by Walt Disney Channel South Africa in Pretoria, I had an opportunity to get an exclusive one-on-one interview with Jesse Clegg, South Africa’s rising singer-songwriter, and the son of the musician Johnny Clegg. He is one of the celebrity artists that performed at the Roadshow. earlier on before his performance, fellow compatriot, rap and hip hop favourite HHP confessed his liking of Jesse’s music. “I have heard that Jesse Clegg is here. I am a big fan of jesses Clegg!” HHP screamed on the microphone.Jesse Clegg was born in 1988 in Johannesburg, South Africa He’s the son of the famous South African musician Johnny Clegg. When he was only 6 months old he went on tour with his father. Between 1988 and 1994 he spent at least 5 months out of a year on the road. The cover of Johnny Clegg’s 1989 album Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World Music features a young Jesse Clegg sitting on his father’s shoulders. The title track of this album is also addressed to him. Jesse Clegg has ventured into the Rock genre . His music is completely different than his father’s world music genre. He experimented, playing instruments like the saxophone, piano and clarinet before he finally settled on the guitar as his preferred instrument. By the time Jesse Clegg was 17 years old he was focused on song-writing. He fine tuned his skills to put together the songs for a debut album. In 2007 he went on tour with his father. His debut album (entitled When I Wake Up was released in 2008. Today was a single of the album. The song made its debut at number 1 on the Highveld Stereo Homebrew chart in 2008. Jesse Clegg has been announced as one of the2010 MK Award Nominees for this song in the category for Best Solo Artist. Josie Field is also nominated in this category. Below is a the Q&A interview;
Novell Zwange: Can we start by saying that your father has had a major influence on your music career?
Jesse Clegg: That’s true I grew up listening to a lot of music. I kind of learnt about the power and beauty of music from my dad. I traveled extensively with my dad to several music festivals festivals and met many prominent people in the showbiz. So getting into music was a well-informed decision. my dad has always been very supportive.
NZ : Have you had the opportunity to watch Disney Channel Original Movie Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam?
JC: I haven’t seen it as yet but the young kids love it.
NZ: Tell us about Rock music appreciation in South Africa, is it growing or it is on the decline?
JC: Rock is still a very new genre in Africa, but its growing and its quite nice to see new bands like Black Jack. they are doing very well.
JC: Talent contests are good but I think music is much more than talent contests.You need to have the passion and commitment to it. But I have seen the kids, there is a lot of talent here and it must be nurtured at such a tender age.
NZ: The issue of airplay, are local musicians receiving any fair deal from the local radio stations?
JC: Airplay? I think its improving. we have had good airplay on local radio stations. the more we play the more people listen to our music, and the more it gets played on radio.
NZ: Rock music and rock stars have to some extent been associated with drug abuse. What is your take on that?
JC: Its a failed formula. if you get into that kind of lifestyle you are shortening your own life. Personally I don’t take drugs, I try to stay away from that.
NZ: What role do you think music can play in influencing social transformation? Do you personally support any charity or humanitarian cause?
JC: music can do a lot to people’s lives. My dad was a political activist using music to bring about messages of solidarity against a wide range of injustices. You can connect with some group of people or causes through art. I am an ambassador for the nelson Mandela Foundation’s 46664 campaign and the Smile Foundation an organisation dedicated to transforming the lives of children with facial anomalies, in South Africa.
NZ: Have you been following the debate on 380 Degrees music publishing deals, and do you think artists are getting a raw deal?
JC: Oh you are well-researched man, I have heard about them. I don’t think they are so bad. recording companies have turned to such contracts because of the changing nature of music. For me I see it as progress as music enterprises are investing more and more on live gigs other than relying on record sales. Me personally, I am not signed to any 380 degree contract, but I think its the way forward for recording companies as so many things are changing in the industry. for example Internet is also changing the way business is done in music.
NZ: Any new or upcoming projects, collaborations or tours?
JC: From here I’m flying back to Canada where I am working on my second album. So I am heading straight into the studio!
NZ: And finally before you go on stage, tell me something, are you the one I saw performing at the Hatfield Square during the FIFA World Cup 2010? Am sorry I was a bit tipsy and was a bit out of my mind that night so I cant remember most of the songs.
JC: Ha ha ha, sure man we played at several Fan Parks during the World Cup, and yes we definitely played at the Square.