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The making of the album Borders & Beyond, 2014


It has been just over 4 years since I have released an English album. 

We tried a different approach with this album and decided to record outside of the studio. We selected a variety of locations to record the music. I’ve been so privileged to perform with such amazing artists that it really was a total pleasure and breeze to record this album.

Schalk Joubert is acting as producer of this album and has played an integral part in the sound and feel of this album. He worked narrowly with engineer Dave Langemann who has an incredible ear and made valuable contributions towards the album and its creative process.

We started out rehearsing at Schalk’s house on Monterosso farm just outside Stellenbosch. This was a perfect spot to let the creative juices flow. We rehearsed the songs while Dave starting setting up his mobile studio in the house. Most of the recordings took place at Monterosso.

Henry Steel and my recording stations were set up next to each other in the passage way. Poor Simon Orange who also lives with Schalk – had us set up right in front of his bedroom door. He had to walk around the house every time he needed a cup of tea. Luckily his presence created the perfect opportunity for me to have him play on my album. He pulled in, set up his keys and did some kick ass keyboard tracks on 2 of the songs.  

Schalk and Kevin Gibson were set up in the lounge, whilst all guitar amps were rigged up in Schalk’s bedroom. Dave’s “studio” was set up in a spare room next to the kitchen. Needless to say we gathered in the kitchen to listen to the music, chill out, drink coffee and eat lunch. Afternoon chill moments took place on the balcony which overlooks the beautiful dam, Monterosso farm and the Stellenbosch mountains. On a hot day we could even pop out and take a quick swim – which was needed, since January in Stellenbosch can be quite a scorcher.  Here are some photos of our 2 days of recording and the beautiful view over the Monterosso farm.

After the initial rehearsals we started recording. Henry, Schalk and Kevin recorded all 12 tracks in 2 days which was actually quite incredible. These musicians all had so much respect for the material. The amount of experience these musicians have made such an invaluable contribution to the recording process and overall sound. I am very fortunate to work with people like this. For most of these songs there were not more than 3 takes per instrument – which just shows the amount of skill. It is also an indication of the musical approach we took – we wanted to record something organic and avoid an over-produced and layered sound. It was more important for us to have vibe than flawless playing. It was also quite funny dealing with farm noises – every now and then a roaring tractor growl would travel through the chimney into the lounge where Schalk and Kevin were set up. We had to take little breaks and wait for the tractor driver to do his thing before we could continue.  

After the band recorded their tracks it was time for me to do my vocals. I recorded my vocals at Schalk’s house. Dave set up my vocal booth in the lounge where I sang for almost 2 days. On the second day we invited Vernon Swart (artist and drummer for the Valiant Swart band) to come do some percussion on his cajon. He brought his fishing rod (hoping to catch some carp) as well as a little box of red wine. He ended up working quite hard in the lounge and missed out on the whole carp experience (haha). It was fun having him there.  Schalk also dabbled with i-pad soundscapes which made the songs sound surprisingly better.

Once the vocals were tracked we decided that we were going to make use of male vocalists to handle all backing vocals. Just to add some balance and ensure a little bit of Jing-Jang cohesion. It was decided that Peter Mitchell would be the chosen backing vocalist and luckily he agreed to come and sing on the album. I have known Peter Mitchell for many years and recently recorded a duet with Peter which was released as part of his album. This song is called “Mautie’s song” (what a beautiful song). Singer-songwriter Nick Turner will also be joining in on backing vocals on this album. I recently started collaborating with Nick Turner, which is so much fun. And hope to be doing some backing vocals on his debut album which will be released in the near future (2014). All backing vocals will take place this Friday – the official last day of recording. Watch out for these photos (will post them on Friday).

Dave organised a mini-grand piano for the recordings. It was a great privilege to record all piano tracks on the legendary Abdullah Ibrahim’s piano. This piano is in storage in Bellville and Dave, Schalk and I pickled through to set up in the warehouse. It felt quite strange to see this beautiful piano standing in the centre of a warehouse between cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and random furniture. Dave used his i-pad to track the piano takes. Schalk also did a track or 2 on the piano – playing with very few fingers- adding a special flavour to songs that initially were not meant to have piano on them.  It was a long day – I had to record all piano takes in one day – we managed to get out of there by about 9pm the evening.  Here are some pics of the warehouse and the recording process on that day. Also – read a bit more here about the amazing Abdullah Ibrahim.

We took a bit of a break after this since it was time for the annual Woordfees festival. Also, I think it is good to take a bit of a break from the material in order to stay objective. We made a list of outstanding recording priorities and kicked off again on Monday the 17th of March. It was time for Andriette Norman to join us in studio. Andriette is an amazing vocalist and extremely popular in the Afrikaans music industry. It was a great honour to have her contribute to my song “Find your light”. The respectful, eager and humble way in which she participated was really inspiring and I cannot say how grateful I am that she agreed to sing a duet with me. She gave this song a serious set of balls and we definitely had a few giggles in the vocal booth when Schalk asked us to belt and improvise like church women somewhere in the deep South of America. I am really looking forward to hearing the end result of this song. Not only because of the vocals, but also because it is an uplifting and positive song and I think quite surprisingly different from my previous work. It’s definitely the louder song on the album and will probably be track nr 12.  Here is Andriette in the vocal booth, smiling and doing her amazing thing.

Next up was Piet de Beer – another musician I have been working with for quite some time. He is a great violinist and also someone I really enjoy to talk to. He strolled in there and got the brief that he had to play like a drunk violinist. That is exactly what he did. He made a great contribution to my social commentary song, “Keep on keepin’ on” – and gave it that playful feeling that it needed to make it what I envisioned when I wrote the song. Schalk also plays a mean bass groove on this song. It is one of my favourite bass sounds - bouncing up and down between 2 chords. You will only understand when you hear it yourself. He played this song on his brand new electric double bass which has a great fat and thrilling sound.   

Once Piet completed his song, Gerald Clark pitched up to record his vocal part in the duet “One day”. This is a song I wrote especially for the LOVEMORE show – a show the 2 of us have been traveling with. After the initial warm up Gerald did a beautiful vocal take which is really loaded with emotion and forced me to consider re-recording my own vocal take and making it better. This I will be doing on Friday. Always room for improvement I say! I am excited to hear what people think of this song. It has proven to be quite popular in the LOVEMORE shows – so I hope fans will experience it the same way when listening to the recording. Here is Gerald getting ready to sing.

So! This coming Friday it is our official last day of recording. We are looking forward to having Peter Mitchell come in and weave his magic with the songs. He is great at harmonizing and I am confident it will just lift the music to an entirely different level when he is finished doing his thing. Nick Turner is sure to do something great as well! (I am curious to see what comes out there). The beautiful and talented Anjulie Nock will also be coming in to do some cello tracks on some of the more emotionally driven songs. I am especially looking forward to hearing what she is going to do with my song “the other side of goodbye”. This is a very special song to me. I wrote it for my brother who passed away at a very young age in 2009. It is a very honest song about the grieving process and how one can struggle with coming to terms with the untimely loss of someone you loved dearly.

I will also be recording an a-capella song on Friday which is a first for me on an album. It is called “if I were a song”. I started performing it at shows after I made it up while on the road somewhere between Joburg and Cape Town.  This will be the bonus track on the album.

Do come and have a look at the next photos after our session on Friday. Once that has been done – it is time for Dave to start mixing which is a huge and important task. I will be sure to keep you up to date with the rest of the process. I will also post regular updates on the album launch tour which will be taking place in May. We are still in the process of finalising all details – but here you can get a broad idea of times and places – and start pencilling in these dates in your diaries.

Here are the pics of our last recordings. Anjulie and Peter Mitchell were absolutely amazing. Piet de Beer played his "drunken violinist" part very well!

Andriette Norman did the most amazing vocal take on song "Find your light" - an up tempo song about stepping out and taking life by storm. Thanks so much for your valuable contribution Andriette!

Peter Mitchell's brief was to do some backing vocals. My word - he did so much more than that. After a kick-ass session I can't help but see him as a vocal collaborator. His interpretation of a very intimate and personal song to me, "This space" is goose-bump beautiful. I am sure this song will be a favourite of many.

Piet de Beer breezed into the studio and did a wonderful "drunken violin" on the song "Keep on keeping on". It is always fun to have him around. :)

Anjulie Nock has played on many of my albums, and it was only natural that she would perform on my latest album. She is so intuitive and made my Aztec poem-inspired song, "Flower and song" so much better!! Thanks Anjulie!

Dave did not only act as engineer, but also played guitar and shaker on duet "One day", which Gerald Clark recorded with me. This song is inspired by the film, One day and forms part of the LOVEMORE show I have been touring with for the last 2 years. Gerald Clark and I plan to tour with our new LOVEMORE show later this year. Here is Gerald doing is thing in studio. He sang so well I had to improve on my initial vocal take to match the intensity in his voice. Always a pleasure to work with Gerald Clark! 

Please do share this blog with friends if you find it interesting and want to help spread the word about this new music project and the album launch in May.


  1. Great glimpse, thank you! Looking forward to the album release, yay!

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