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Matthew Mole admits upfront that he is shy. But then why be a musician?
“Singing is different to talking,” says the 21-year-old singer.
We are sitting in the shiny offices of his record label, Just Music. Mole is set to perform at their monthly office party. It’s a fun way for the independent label to showcase their artists to a few key industry players.
Mole says he grew up in Fish Hoek, proving that it is not the dry town only comprised of the purple rinse brigade and hungry great white sharks that circle their shores.
“I was at the beach when there was a shark attack. I actually saw the shark when I was swimming and thought it was a whale. This guy’s leg was bitten off. But then again, apparently he used to get his kicks from seeing sharks when he was swimming.”
Sharks aside, Mole made news when he became the first South African artist to enter iTunes at No 1 with his debut album, The Home We Built. Funnily enough, Metro FM’s T-Bo Touch thought Mole had entered on iTunes worldwide and phoned the bewildered artist for an impromptu interview. When I asked Mole about the interview he said he vaguely remembered being interviewed by “some guy from America”. Go Touch!
“Would you like a cupcake? I won’t have one if you don’t.”
Well, okay then. Cupcake time over, we proceed with the interview.
“I realised when I came up to Joburg to sign to Just Music that I’d decided I was going to be a musician.
“The owner, Karl Anderson, contacted me when he heard my demos. I love the way they do things here and their producer, Matthew Fink, who produced my album, is a genius. He has amazing ideas. He doesn’t stop. You have to stop him.
“I used to record in my room so that experience was the first time I was in a studio. There was a lot of freedom in the studio.”
His album is playing in the background. At one stage he mutters under his breath: “My wedding song.” Pardon?
“I wrote this song about this wedding I attended and it’s called The Wedding Song. I write about things I see. I am close to my family and they taught me to live everything like that. I am a Christian, but not a gospel singer.”
Anderson comes in and opens the pool table for us. Neither of us are particularly good, but we can’t resist a game.
“I went to Russia recently to perform. Like, who goes to Russia? I took these thick clothes, but Vladivostok was hot and humid. I felt like such a girl. People are crazy there and they don’t need to be drunk to party.”
So what does he think about his newfound fame? “I am so new to this. People tell me I have helped them in their lives. I have spoken to their lives. But I don’t want to be famous. If it happens it’s cool.”
Later on that evening Fink arrives to help Mole with his sound. The lead singer of The Muffinz, Sifiso Buthelezi, also arrived for what later turned out to be a great evening of music. And, surprise, surprise, Mole became very chatty and animated in between songs. Each song was explained thoroughly and with subtle humour.
Watching him play and listening to his lyrics I couldn’t help whisper to a friend that he was just so cute. Unfortunately, he heard me and gave a witty reply, much to my embarrassment.
Over the best pizzas in town, I watched him chat to industry peeps. The big city lights of Jozi and its brutal entertainment industry are definitely coming his way. Let’s hope this sweet, small town boy from Fish Hoek will survive. Chances are he will, after all, he’s used to swimming with the sharks.