Seeing how CultureBox blogged about me, I figured I’d blog about someone else in return. And blogging about one of the most talented and quite possibly one of the nicest people in the South African music industry seems like a good idea.
I first ‘met’ Guy Buttery when the Greenhairmermaid took me to one of Guy’s shows at Monkey Valley in Noordhoek, some time in 2010. I had heard of Guy Buttery but had never heard any of his music. Needless to say, I am glad I went. Guy creates a musical landscape, occasionally looping his music as he plays, with just one guitar to mesmerizing effects. His version of Joanna Newsome’s ‘The Book of Right On’ is seriously awesome. Anyway, I’m crap at describing music so I’ll take a quote from the Mail & Guardian instead:
“… his music has a subtle grace and power all of its own. Though his technical prowess is also bewildering, Buttery immerses himself entirely into the soul of his guitar, coaxing sonic shapes and forms of such startling originality from it that his instrument acts as a kind of lightning conductor for the sound of another realm.”
Impressed with his music, I wrote him pretty soon after the gig asking if he’d be willing to take part in my project ‘Swimming Upstream’. He said yes:)
Originally from the Durban area, Guy made his way to Cape Town in 2009. Having studied jazz and classical guitar at the University of Kwazulu Natal as well as under Nibs van der Spuy, Guy soon found himself opening for Nibs in front of crowds up to 2,000 people. And at only 18 year of age, he was the youngest ever SAMA nominee for his debut album “When I grow Up”.
We met up a while later at his house. I had asked him about places in or around Cape Town that he finds beautiful and inspiring, and he chose Klein Plaas Dam as the backdrop for our shoot. We made our way up Red Hill in his car; packed with a guitar, camera, some clothes and snacks. In case you’ve never been to Klein Plaas Dam, it’s a very quiet and peaceful reservoir surrounded by these bleached white alien-shaped rocks. The sun was out and I struggled quite a bit with the harsh light reflecting off the rocks but managed by moving into the shade for a while.
When asked what the biggest challenge has been so far, Guy replied:
“The music industry itself. South Africa doesn’t have a very big infrastructure; there are not a lot of venues, promoters or publicists. The shortage of all this has been a challenge. You have to get your name out there. And my music is quite “niche” so that has made it even more difficult.”
Releasing his second album ‘Songs from the Cane Field’ in 2005, it was his album ‘Fox Hill Lane’ that eventually won him A SAMA award last year for best instrumental album. Quite recently his Joanna Newsome cover was included on a covers album called ‘Versions of Joanna’ which was released on Drag City. Guy will be touring with Dan Patlansky later this year (June).It seems to me that guy has made “niche” work for his quite successfully.
It’s time to head home and we make our way down hill in the late afternoon sun. The light has gone from harsh to a soft warm glow. While we stop to take some last photos and Guy plays the guitar, I can’t help thinking I’ve got the best job in the world. Seriously, eh.. to be in splendid company, be outdoors and listen to beautiful music all day long while doing exactly what you love. How cool is that? All I’m thinking is why stop at “all day long”… I think I’ll continue for a while to come yet, at least until I grow up:)
If you like Guy Buttery you may want to check out Cabins in the Forest (even if they don’t exist anymore their album is still ou there), Gary Thomas or Andrew James.
You can find more on Guy Buttery right here: www.guybuttery.co.za