The voice is the last thing you’d expect from Lucy Kruger and the first thing you remember. Shy lass? Cutlass!
Maybe it’s her mane. Certainly it’s the only sign of wildness about the dulcet doe-eyes of this tall, quiet maiden until she lets loose in the most frighteningly beautiful way on stage. Lucy Kruger has gone from student to professional solo musician in six short months, relocating from Grahamstown to Cape Town. Being a stranger worked for Morrison, so maybe a new town is her door to break on through with those great vibrato tones that lift the roof and shiver, autumnal, in the air.
jezebel: Drama trained inland, you’re the new kid on the block. Tough break.
Lucy: I haven’t really processed it all, initially I was really worried that because I didn’t know anybody and thought that it was going to take masses of time to get anything done. But Kevin [Gibson who plays drums for Lucy] was saying that it’s really good for people to not be part of the gigging scene – to work with their art form, to practice – so that the focus becomes more about the actual music than how to navigate your way in the industry. I’m very behind in the sense that I don’t know the rules of the industry, or the ways in, but I’m quite confident with what I have (musically).
If I compare your live sets to your recorded songs, they’re quite different. I think your single, Four White Walls is fabulous and very radio-ready: your voice is powerful and beautiful but there’s also an incredible balance in the production. In your live shows it’s far more heartfelt, intense and personal. And you’ve had Inge Beckmann guest on some of your recordings?
I had to give a CD of music I was inspired by in preparation for the recordings. Lark was one of them. Schalk Joubert, my producer, said, ‘well, I could ask her to sing,’ and I was wide-eyed and thought that the worst that could happen is that she’d say no, and she didn’t.
Maybe it’s because she’s also confident in her product. For me the voice is perhaps the primary instrument, and I’ve always wondered when those with characterful voices realised that they had something worth sharing. When did it happen for you?
I used to sing at school a lot, in the choir, in plays, but there were people that were technically much better than me, and easier to fit into a particular piece. In primary school I just wanted to sing a solo; my life would be made if I could. I only ever got a couple of lines here and there -
- Because the voices that get solos in choirs are crystal clear and smooth!
Yes. But I worked very hard; I was determined despite always being insecure about it at school. It was only really when I started playing guitar and writing my own material that I started to explore. Until then I copied a lot. People started responding really nicely. It took a long time for me to feel happy in my voice.
Did your style of singing or the character in your voice change as you got into it?
I think it has changed. I listened to the first demo recording from matric the other day. It’s quite tentative, which I don’t feel about myself now. It was a lot sweeter.
Do you think you weren’t expressing yourself as much through your voice then? Your emotions, your thoughts?
Mm, I think it’s also about growth. Not only from a technical perspective but from a human perspective, just to feel more comfortable. And I think I could still go further. There’s so much space to play.
Let’s hope she carves that space, metaphorically and geographically. The album is out soon and it will be interesting to see what you think of the lady who has translated jezebel’s VPL as Vicariously Posted Letter.