Bouwer Bosch is a rainbow of intriguing layers.
His colourful persona, quirky videos and bashing lyrics – many a times aimed at the bull’s -eye he confidently paints on his own chest – make the perception that he’s a bit goofy and not really all that serious about life and music -a natural human error.
When one takes time to examine his method to -“what some may call madness”-, your eyes are opened to a profound human being, intelligently navigating his way onto people’s lips and into their hearts. Whether you’re a fan of his – at times – off beat personality, quirky songs and comedic videos… or not, chances are the name Bouwer Bosch, somewhere in the past week, either moved through your lips… or into your ears.
A young Bouwer Bosch was what he refers to as, –“a stage fanatic”. Although he had high hopes of one day conquering Wimbledon, the bite of the potentially lethal music bug, altered his brainwaves, and sent him down an unknown music channel, “I have pretty much always been a stage fanatic, Bouwer explains, – “In primary school I did musicals. I was part of the church band – in St. 9 I started playing in Retief Burger’s band. That was pretty much when the music and touring bug bit me.
Pertaining to the dream a young Bouwer had of conquering the tennis world, – Bouwer has this to say, “Growing up I really wanted to be a professional tennis player. I wanted to conquer Wimbledon and all those big tournaments. Unfortunately, I was one of those kids that had to work much harder in order to get somewhere… and I guess I was a bit lazy. I also discovered the Happy Meal… But I still love tennis, and luckily I still get to play a stringed instrument… it’s just not a racket but a guitar…there’s strings none the less.”
After finishing school, Bouwer adventured his way to the University of Potchefstroom, to peruse his studies in BA Communication sciences. With a music revolution already starting to poke holes within the Potchefstroom atmosphere, the inevitable happened, and at age 22, Bouwer settled into an Afrikaans Rock band, that would make major waves within the local music industry in the following 5 years – Straatligkinders.
Straatligkinders, made what was already apparent and obvious – crystal clear. Music was the path Bouwer was meant to tread on. Regarding his journey with Straatligkinders, “Straatligkinders was an amazing time in my life. I learned so much about the music industry, the dynamics regarding friendship and everything that gets mixed – up in between, within a band. It was a journey full of highs and lows, good times and bad times. It was a journey driven by passion… that at times maybe drove you a bit too far.”
After Straatligkinders decided to take a break, Bouwer together with Glaskas Frontman, Deon Meiring ventured into a completely different music direction, – with the Afrikaans folky pop act Dans Dans Lisa. More recently, he endeavoured on a solo path, pioneered by his first solo album; Almal maak voute – with the ‘v’- being an intended spelling error.
Bouwer decided on the direction his solo venture would take, by evaluating what was currently going down within the local music scene, “There are a lot of good quality rock- bands like Van Coke Kartel and Glaskas, Electro Pop acts like Die Heuwels Fantasties, and then you have Jack Parow dominating the Afrikaans Rap scene. I decided on a piano driven rock and roll sound, but still with a band, which makes the sound a bit lighter. I wanted to identify a field, within which I could make my own unique mark,” Bouwer elaborated.
The different direction Bouwer took musically was interpreted by many as strange, and critics had much to say about selling out… and a changing, – even altered – personality. “I definitely have not changed, regarding who I am,” Bouwer argues. “The Bouwer from Straaligkinders is still the guy I am today. The fact that I have a new approach to music does not mean I changed who I am. It means that I have a different approach… there is other things I now want to write about, and get off my chest.” “People,” he continues, “need to remember -, I am a musician. This is what I do. It’s my job. So I also need to produce music that will keep me alive. I guess the irony behind this, is that I am way poorer now, with my more toned down act, than I was with Straatligkinders.”
The less serious – sit-down comedian – side of Bouwer has really come out to play in his latest creative output. The lyrics and videos to the first two singles off his new album, are testimony to just that. In Vertel My – the video from the first single – a playful, almost childlike Bouwer, tries his utmost to conquer the uncomfortable time within a relationship by wooing his sweetheart with swings, sweets and ice cream in a park. In the second single off the album, Orkes Moles, Bouwer not only pokes fun at the local music industry and the way in which certain musicians go about their business, but embraces the bright red bull’s eye, he himself painted on his chest, and shoots off a few lethal comments at his own expense. Bouwer explains his use of comedy by stating, “I like comedy. I like trying to be funny, and I like writing funny pieces. I personally feel, that with Afrikaans music, you often need something to help you sell your product. It’s not always a question of the song being king. Something needs to be added to the mix -, whether it is comedy, controversy or angering someone. When reading pieces on Die Antwoord, you seldom read something pertaining to their music; …instead you read about the controversy surrounding their act, who they angered, and what they had to say about it. Comedy is a free tool you can use to stay relevant and on everyone’s lips. Not a lot of people within our music industry really use this. People within the music industry tend to take themselves and life in general very serious. I like breaking away from that. Plus, I don’t really have a big budget to do massive productions. Maybe if I had a bigger budget, I would be able to do less random stuff for attention.”
Bouwer being a resourceful creative also dabbles in the producing field, with music videos from Moses Metro Man and Glaskas being credited to his already ripping CV. He also produces his own music videos. Regarding the origin of his producing career, “I originally bought my camera whilst studying in Potch. No one really had money for the production of music videos. When I later moved to Pretoria, it was something I continued with. There were loads of opportunities. Getting the chance to take the material from someone else, and weave your own story around it, was an amazing creative outlet. And, it was a great way to get some extra cash,” Bouwer says.
Bouwer recently started downscaling on his producing side, channelling his focus to his solo career and the non-profit charity organization- and campaign, – Liefde wen.
The Liefde wen campaign is a non-profit organization, still very much in the beginning phase. This campaign has already generated a major hype amongst young South Africans. Bouwer elaborates a bit more on this brainchild, “I’m busy registering it as a non-profit organization, and let me tell you, there is heaps of admin. The goal of Liefde Wen, is to be a non-profit organization that lends a hand to many different projects. It’s only in the beginning phase – and we still have a long way to go before it is fully up and running. The idea is to use the organization to get involved with various projects, for example children’s homes, etc. I don’t just want to give money to these projects, but actively get people involved to help and create kind of create a culture of giving. The campaign is also promoted by an already popular clothing range, consisting of t-shirts and caps. I want to use the profits generated from the sales of the clothing to help assist the projects Liefde wen takes on. When I die one day I don’t want people to remember me for the songs I had on radio. I’d rather have them remember me for the difference I tried to make. Life is more than music and catchy lyrics. The beggar on the street doesn’t care whether my singles are played on radio. It’s in a way so irrelevant.”
Bouwer Bosch is an intriguing individual. He is comfortable with who he is, what he chooses to do with his life …and how he goes about doing it. He believes that what he creatively produces is like a manifestation of who he is, “I try to pour my whole heart into the music I write. My biggest critics always come watch my live shows, and comment that I’m not a good singer and that my voice isn’t perfect etc. It’s probably valid, but the point is, I don’t want to sing perfectly, because my heart is not perfect… my life is not perfect. What’s the point of going on stage, trying to be someone you’re not? I don’t want to be a different person on stage than the person I normally am. I like pouring my soul and personality into my music. Anyone can go into a studio and manipulate their voice into sounding perfect, but it takes more going in and selling your product that isn’t perfect. That’s how I try and live my life. I want people to see that I’m human, I have faults, and I’m sometimes an idiot.”