15 questions for Leslie Javan


15 questions for Leslie Javan

Leslie Javan is back, but the Namaqualand songwriter tells LAUREEN ROSSOUW he was never gone. He recently sang the theme song for a new TV series and he's planning two releases soon and a short concert tour next year.


1. For whom do you write songs?

As a songwriter and composer, we write and compose for the people. We tell the stories of the world and people to the people.

2. What do you read first thing every morning?

I don't read any words because I try to keep my mind quiet and sometimes make entries in my dream journal.

3. Who has had the greatest influence on your life?

My foster parents, Frans and Katriena Martins.

4. What do you regret?

That I could never film the story of our old music heroes between the 1990s and the 2000s. All my fundraising efforts were rejected. One by one, most of them went home for the last time over the years, and we missed out on a big historical insight into a culture that is dying out.

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5. What stands out from your childhood? What do you long for?

The simplicity of everything. We were happy with the little we had because as children, we didn't know anything else. What we had was enough.

6. What was your favourite toy as a child?

A very abstract green metal object that I found one day in the field and brought home.

7. What music did you grow up with?

I grew up with the riel and vastrap music played by people on the farms, but also classical, jazz, rock and other folk music that I heard on the radio.

Javan with Lochner de Kock and Riku Lätti.
Javan with Lochner de Kock and Riku Lätti.
Image: © DIE WASGOEDLYN, 2016

8. What are your weaknesses?

Sweet treats like milk tart or cake tend to make my head spin.

9. What do you listen to when you're alone?

Mostly jazz, but also classical and folk music. Lately I've been listening a lot to my new music.

10. When did you start writing songs? And when did you know it's what you wanted to do?

I started composing and writing songs from a young age. I called them tunes. One evening after a show, I heard someone at the bar whistle one of my tunes. After that, I began taking songwriting and composition more seriously because if a stranger remembers and sings, whistles or hums my tune, then there is water in the fountain.

11. You've withdrawn yourself from the public eye for a while. What made you come back?

I've never really been away and have worked a lot in the theatre, TV and film industry on award-winning productions in recent years. In the background, I've been working on my own projects, and the time has come to share them with audiences. My new Afrikaans album, Strate van my hart, is about death, which has visited me and many people around me over the years, taking away family and friends. The album is my way of making peace with death.

12. Who and what inspires you?

Nature and creative people, especially children and animals, but generally what's happening in the world around me and what I feel needs to be shared with others.

13. Where would you like to live someday?

On the edge of the Karoo, near mountains but also not too far from the sea.

14. And where would you still like to perform?

Besides having performed on big stages abroad, my greatest desire is to perform outdoors in the Karoo and Namaqualand.

15. Who would you still like to collaborate with?

The National Symphony Orchestra.

♦ VWB ♦

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