Blouberg musician John Niel says his music found a home after he settled in Cape Town.
The 30-year-old was born in Pretoria. His mother writes poetry, his father is a pianist, his younger brother is a film student and his sister, according to John, has the voice of an angel.
John says he was always influenced by his parents’ music playing every day in the house while growing up in the 90s. At 16, he picked up the guitar and fell in love with it and wanted to get better. And at 17, he started writing his own music. Having no interest in studying further and wanting to focus on his music, John started busking outside university campuses.
“One day, I must have been about 21, I saw a group of students outside a McDonalds near the University of Pretoria. I took out my guitar and started playing. It must have been 10 minutes of this when one of the students approached me and said he didn’t have much to give me. He gave me a few coins and said he wished me luck but I wasn’t very good at what I was doing and asked me to go play elsewhere.”
John says it was a blow to his confidence, but used that criticism to get better.
“I never stopped. I told myself that this is what I wanted to do and I became better. I eventually got a break when I got to do gigs at a club near McDonald’s where I was told I’m not that good.”
John was one of the 10 participants in the Just Inspired Live Acoustic Sessions project hosted by the Just Music record label, in 2017. He says this helped him work with artists such as Matthew Mole, Jimmy Nevis and producer Matthew Fink.
John moved to Cape Town in 2017 and says he feels his kind of music is much more appreciated in the Mother City. He signed with Just Music soon after settling in Blouberg. He describes his style as acoustic pop but says he is very experimental and people who have listened to his album say it fits into different genres.
John released his debut album, Long Time Coming, in December last year and is now set to shoot music videos for two of his songs, The Good Ones and Red Dress. John plans to release a second album at the end of the year.
You can find John’s debut album here.