We met up with the fun, bubbly Pixie Bennet at Primi’s in Rosebank last week for a light lunch and also to find out what the edgy and funky red head had in store in terms of her new album, business and why she feels its so important for South African artists to have real professional artist managers.
We first start off with a light conversation about her opinion of the Inner Space Sensation event that occured last weekend and if she actually struggled to find a white outfit like many of us who ran around the mall in the last minute in search of a funky outfit to wear.
“I wasn’t prepared at all! I was also like a headless chicken running in and out of shops trying to find an outfit but I couldn’t find anything, I ended up going at the very last minute to some cute Chinese shop and my boyfriend who was flying from Cape Town was still buying shoes like half an hour before he had to board the plane it was just complete chaos! But in all from the technical aspect the event was pretty awesome”
You talk about technical production and many people might not know this about you but you run your own production company! Please tell us more about that and why you chose to pursue a business career in artist management?
“Yes I run the company from an artist management side, so I’m only recently getting into the production side of it for my own benefit. In terms of choosing artist management, in varsity I studied musical theatre and for my whole youth I thought I was just going to be a performer but then life kind of slapped me into reality and actually showed me that in order to survive as a performer you have to be business minded too. After leaving varsity I left the country and started performing abroad where I ended up getting a lot of experience in many different aspects all related to the industry consequently down the line I found myself sitting with this whole body of knowledge and skills which encapsulated everything from how to manage an artist to organizing an entire event from scratch. So at the end of the day as an artist I ended up having many connections with clients, I understood what clients wanted, I knew how to sell artists to them and I also knew which artists were looking for management. I believe that there’s so much mismanagement and apathy when it comes to how artist are taken care of so the decision to pursue my own artists management company was a no-brainer.”
What’s the one thing you feel hasn’t changed and needs to change in the music industry?
For me it all comes down to fan support, as artists we build strong relationships via social media and at the same time we’re constantly aware of what we put out there trying to keep the fans interested, trying to establish an authentic relationship with them but when it comes down to buying the album or coming to our gigs there’s a general apathy in our country for supporting an artists. I feel like there’s too much lip service and no active support, people will be interested in your craft but you then find out that they’ve never actually bought or even listened to the album, so for me that’s one thing I’d love to see change from the fans don’t just talk about it be about it. However, I think it’s a lesson to us artists to not only depend on our music but to also explore other avenues.
What’s your take on the public’s misinterpretation of what genre an artist should sing just because of the color of their skin, for example some of your songs are played in the townships but then people get taken aback when they realise that you’re actually a white woman and not a black one?
I’d say that I’m trying to blur the lines when it comes to the type of genre’s I sing I don’t want to be put in a box just because I’m a white girl and I should only sing Pop songs that was never my mission or goal when getting into the music industry. I originally come from a House music background, when I first started with my musical career I use to sing House Lounge type of songs because I really was inspired by groups like Blue Six and vocalists like Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and even rappers like Mos Def. I found their lyrical styles so appealing to me so from the get go for me it was never about what type of genre I want to sing it was always about the music so when I came back from overseas I realised that South Africans have this perception that House Music and specifically commercial Deep House is mostly for or played by the African market and that white people play “white” music which was a bit of a surprise to me until I started to release my material and I was met with resistance when they found out that I was the one singing those Deep House songs. I feel this country is so accepting when it comes to cultural diversity and it just seems so out-dated to still have these perceptions of who should sing what just because of the colour of their skin. It’s simple; music has no boundaries so it’s important that we apply the ethos of cultural diversity into our music also
We took a little break from the interiew with Pixie and did our infamous 50 second challenge to see how quick her responses were to our random questions:
Coming from an SA Idols background, what’s your take on individuals being eliminated because they’re supposedly not emotionally ready to take upon the competition?
Anybody entering or leaving SA Idols one has to have a thick skin regardless, every position your find yourself in, in that competition is very valuable. You can see the hunger and the passion to make it especially with the contestants who make it to the top 10 position so it’s not so much about the competition but about the emotional strength one possesses when moving from SA Idols into the really world of the music industry because out there its twenty times more difficult than it is when you’re in the competition because what’s the point of winning SA Idols but you then lack the strength to actually survive in this cut throat industry because that’s then not going to make you a successful idol. The competition is just the beginning, so yes I think being eliminated because of the lack of emotional maturity can be a valid point for someone to be eliminated, yes you can sing well but can you handle all the other baggage that comes with being a musician?
ZAlebs is reviewing your new album soon, what can we expect from this masterpiece of yours?
My album is uncomplicated, it's obviously very vocal-driven. If I had to categorize it in a specific genre I'd probably put it under the vocal House music genre because all of the songs were written with that genre in mind and its just a mix of Afro House elements and also Pop-Electro elements are thrown in there its quite a diverse album but as a whole project it works well together and I really do hope you enjoy the lyrics I put a lot of effort when it comes to my lyrics and the melodies. It's a great groove type of album so I really do hope you enjoy it.