Honest is the beat policy

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Jeremy Loops is working on his first full-length album. It is set for release in South Africa in April and internationally in May. Yep, this talented musician is set for world fame with Trading Change.

 

Jeremy Loops has the coolest skateboard ever. It’s a remote-controlled battery operated board that goes very, very fast. Waiting for him outside @Union in central Cape Town, he came whizzing around the corner, grinning from ear to ear – the epitome of carefree summer life.

We decided to go to the Alex Bar further down the road.

“I’ll race you,” he challenged, “but you go first, I’ll give you a chance.”

And there we were, racing each other in rush hour traffic. Such fun!

It was the second time we were hanging out together.

The first time was a few days earlier. I arrived at his office, near Parliament. The pile of footwear outside the door clearly implies that you are entering a shoeless zone. Inside two little hipster hippies (in the truest sense of Capetonian youth) are cooking some vegetarian food. They greet me with their permanently happy, knowing grins.

Loops is in his office, working hard on Greenpop, a social business that runs a reforestation project, planting trees in Zambia. This is the first time he and I engage and it’s as if we’ve known each other for ever.

However, I’ve been watching him for the past few years. He puts on a great live show as a one-man band combined with his looping.

However, it is not novelty music. Loops is a crafted, accomplished songwriter whose lyrics are intelligent and sometimes witty. He is a big highlight at festivals like Splashy Fen and Oppikoppi.

At a recent Hugh Masekela concert in Soweto, Loops featured on the line-up. He absolutely killed it. From grannies to young kids, they formed trains, skipping and laughing to the music.

“That was a nerve-racking gig in the beginning,” he recalls.

“That day was a big moment for me. Bra Hugh said he had never seen something like that before. The audience likes people being honest. I want my music to transcend our stupid boundaries.

“On Highveld 94.7’s Joburg Day last year my loop pedal broke in front of 30 000 people. It was terrifying. I took a deep breath and let the people feel what I was feeling. I was overwhelmed by how compassionate they were. If people are putting on a front you can check it out. It’s about the energy. There is nothing worse than a musician not wanting to be there. “

The conversation moves to his brand new album, Trading Change.

“This album is going to be a mix of songs. My biggest inspiration is about being honest with myself.”

Loops is all about looping and building a song live. It is fascinating to watch and he is one of the best live acts in the country. So how will this translate on to an album?

“I go straight into the songs on this album. I promised myself that irrespective of my live show, I will not have boundaries on this album.

“I didn’t put on any breaks. If your music becomes popular, only 1 percent of your fans will see you live.”

He plays me a few songs. I am suitably impressed. Higher Stakes is one of the saddest songs he has written with the line: It seems I left my heart outside your door.

“That is the most real song I have ever written. In the beginning it was hard to perform it. It felt like I was losing my mind.”

The track will definitely connect with the heartbroken in the world.

“It’s good that I waited for this album. I was in a long-term relationship, but then I couldn’t relate to her anymore due to the madness of my career. I wrote the song in Zambia.”

Unfortunately, we run out of time and arrange to meet a few days later. Never did I think I’d be racing Loops and his remote-controlled skateboard down a busy street.

When we reach Alex Bar he orders a chicken pie. Hmm, I’d have thought he was a vegetarian.

“I am a flexitarian. I am against extremism.”

It’s clear Loops lives outside of the constraints of society.

“I am heavily driven to run my life the way I want to. I went to a boys’ school and just wanted to rebel, but then I tired of being a problem child.”

He also sailed around the world, working on a yacht.

“I moved from property development to sailing around the world to coming home in the darkest state. I remember reading a Richard Branson book on the yacht and I wanted to puke because he said ‘just do it’. When I got home I realised I must do what I want. I spent 10 months writing music. Now I have almost got Richard Branson’s philosophy. Just do it.”

He plays me more songs from the album. The track called Sinner is harmonica-driven. It’s his strongest vocal attempt yet and his voice is deeper. The harmonica leads the beat until the drums kick in. It could be a pub song, but isn’t.

“This track has become one of my favourites. I was sitting on the mountain and it came to me really quickly. I had been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan and I just started playing the harmonica.”

Another great track is Down South.

“I wrote it in response to a friend. I have achieved success and he refused to support me when this happened because I was no longer the underdog. I come from Kommetjie and we are all surfers. We are a wolf pack, but maybe it’s human nature to sabotage.

“The best I can do is be present right now. This song is for all those who have dreams.”

That he has manic energy, there is no doubt, yet he is able to channel it via his music and performances as well as his passion for trees.

“Sleeping becomes less relevant if you’re working on something exciting which means I am quite manic right now. When I was a baby I hardly slept so my parents used to put me on a washing machine in a cradle to try and rock me to sleep.”

His music has various messages and, like many poets, he wants to change the world for the better.

His belief is practical: “Rather popularise your own movement by being inclusive. I have seen so many people marginalise their beliefs because they can’t achieve traction. They run the risk of losing the revolution.”

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