Johnny Clegg "Stripped Down" (Part 2)

By  | Jun 22, 2020, 01:48 PM  | Johnny Clegg  | Top of The

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As you will have seen, last week, ZAlebs brought you Part 1 of our 2-part interview with South African legendary musician, Johnny Clegg. This week we are back with the second half of that interview, and we look forward to chatting further with the singer and seeing what he has to say about working with his son, future projects, and his most memorable experiences. 

Hi Johnny, and welcome back to ZAlebs. I've seen from your Facebook pictures that you have done a fair deal of traveling. What would you say have been some of your favorite venues to visit? 

I don't think I have a straight forward favorite per se, my thing is that I judge my performances by the experience, rather than just the individual venue. [After we make the comparison of some singers pursuing Madison Square Garden as a dream venue he adds,] There are nice venues around the world, but at the end of the day it's all about how you connect with the crowd, isn't it? If you go to a small venue with a great crowd it's better than going to a big venue with a dull crowd. 

At the same time I do have my personal favorites. The Royal Albert Hall is a venue I had dreamed of playing for a long time and I was finally able to make that dream come true this year. Another venue I really enjoyed playing at was Nîmes in France, we played in an ancient Roman amphitheater to a crowd of over 3000 people, it was incredible. 

That sounds breathtaking! You've been around, seen it all, done it all, what would you say is next for you in your career?

There are a few songs that I am working on that I will probably release as part of a short album later this year (Or early next year!). But really, what I want to do more of now is live recording. I would like to record my performances, and have more stripped performances to really show off that side of my songs, like I said earlier, I enjoy telling the story of each song and showing people how the song looked and sounded when it was originally written. 

Do you see yourself experimenting with other sounds or other genres of music in your own work? Maybe some dub step [laughs] 

You know what, for as long as I've been around I've been doing what I can to bring in different sounds and different genres into my music. I've brought in some electronic elements, some elements of pop and of course, as everyone can tell, elements of Zulu folk music. I think that's what has helped me achieve the longevity that I've managed in my career. I will always look at experimenting and bringing in whatever interesting elements I can to further enhance my music. 

And what about your son Jesse, can we expect you to collaborate with him any time soon? 

We'd love to collaborate, but it won't be any time soon. Right now Jesse [Clegg] has been very insistent on trying to create his own sound and his own image away from the Johnny Clegg Legacy, and in many ways I really respect him for making that decision. It can never be easy being in the limelight and constantly being associated with your father, or a predecessor. He's doing well though and I really think his second album does great justice to the kind of sound he is trying to achieve. So while we understand each other musically, I don't see us collaborating together very soon. 

Lastly, if you could have any super power, what would it be? 

I'd like to be the God (Or Goddess!) of Dance. A lot of people don't know this about me but I am in fact a dancer. Dance is a massive part of my identity and it's a big reason why I've turned out the way I am in my music. I began dancing when I was 14 and I performed a lot of traditional Zulu dance. That did so much for my masculinity and my personality, and helped me declare to the world that I could be anybody I wanted to be without any issue. I love Dance and how it's helped me express myself. You can't hide from dance because it really is, communicating with your body. If you're not feeling the movement or not in the mood, it will be reflected by your body in the movements you're making. 

ZAlebs would like to thank Johnny Clegg for taking the time to be interviewed by ZAlebs, we really appreciated getting to know such a legendary icon on such a personal level. 

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