News / Arts & Entertainment

    Lucy Kruger's Unique Voice Celebrates Love of Music

    Darren Taylor
    This is Part Two of a six-part series on South African Vocalists 
    Continue to Parts:     1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

    Like most critics, South Africa’s are never lost for words. But now they’re struggling to describe one of the freshest voices to emerge on the country’s indie rock scene in recent years.
     
    The representation that appears to have resonated most was in a recent issue of the South African edition of Rolling Stone magazine. It said Lucy Kruger’s voice hovers somewhere between those of celebrated English songstress Kate Bush and Irish chanteuse Dolores O’ Riordan, of hit-making 1990s pop outfit, The Cranberries.

    Lucy Kruger has one of the most unique voices yet to emerge from South Africa (Courtsy Lucy Kruger)Lucy Kruger has one of the most unique voices yet to emerge from South Africa (Courtsy Lucy Kruger)
    x
    Lucy Kruger has one of the most unique voices yet to emerge from South Africa (Courtsy Lucy Kruger)
    Lucy Kruger has one of the most unique voices yet to emerge from South Africa (Courtsy Lucy Kruger)
    “If I’m going to be compared, those are the kind of artists I want to be compared to. What I like about them is that they are difficult to define as singers,” Kruger told VOA. “If it’s difficult to categorize my voice, then it means I’m occupying a space that’s not pop and not completely rock or grunge. So not being able to describe my voice is actually a great compliment.”  
     
    Both Bush and O’ Riordan have a high-pitched quavering timbre in their voices that instantly sets them apart from other female rock and pop vocalists. Bush especially transcends these music genres to such a degree that she often veers into classical operatic territory.
     
    Kruger also has a distinctive, eclectic voice that’s mature beyond her 23 years. It has an ethereal quality and rings to the point where it’s almost an instrument of its own.  
     
    “I’ve just always sounded like this. When I was a kid I wanted to go to vocal training but my mother told me I’m not allowed to because it would ruin any uniqueness that I had, and now I’m very grateful to her because she was probably right,” said the songwriting singer and guitarist.
    Kruger studied music at university but is emphatic that making pop and rock music cannot be learned. “I actually just learnt the rules of music to be able to break them,” she said.
     
    She’s convinced that her true musical education happened when she was a little girl, when she, her siblings and her parents would gather together to listen to recordings such as Joni Mitchell’s Blue.
     
    She described hearing one particular track from the Canadian singer and songwriter, “A case of you,” as the “definitive moment” when she decided to try to be a professional musician.
     
    Sense of wonder
     
    Kruger’s debut album is called Cut Those Strings, a line from one of its tracks. She explained, “I thought it was a nice title for a debut album, for someone just starting a career in music, embarking on a radical new, brave adventure.”

    Kruger’s music, like her, possesses an ethereal quality (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)Kruger’s music, like her, possesses an ethereal quality (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    x
    Kruger’s music, like her, possesses an ethereal quality (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    Kruger’s music, like her, possesses an ethereal quality (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    Courageous the work certainly is, and it’s a strong testament to Kruger’s individuality. In a parody of others who sacrifice their integrity on the altar of acceptance, she sings, “Dance, dance little puppet / To the rhythm of the shallow heartbeat / And remember / It’s catchy phrases that sell….”
     
    Cut Those Strings is largely an album of infectious pop hooks, sunny choruses and double-tracked vocals with a warm ambience. It’s uplifting and happy, and its creator often embarks on a gentle stroll to ponder her place in the world. “Lying on the grass / Staring up at the moon / I want to question the universe / And everything in between / Is it black or white / Or a shifting shade of grey?” Kruger sings gently.
     
    In her songs beautiful dreamers are encouraged to continue on their righteous paths, and cynicism is rejected with contempt. Most tracks are endowed with a sense of wonder and innocent, simple messages – which isn’t surprising given that they were largely written when Kruger was still a schoolgirl and during her early years at university.
     
    She sings, “Isn’t it true / That we’ll know what we know…We’ll go where we go / I’ve learned / That we’ll see what we see / So let’s not worry / And let’s just be.”
     
    Honest music
     
    Kruger’s first record is optimistic, even naïve. But it does at times steer into darker, rougher waters.
     
    On one track she employs an Australian didgeridoo – a long, cylindrical, wooden wind instrument – that clouds the song with an ominous, eerie drone, as an acoustic guitar is picked almost classically and Kruger sings in a pristine tone, “Will I leave this place / With my heart in a suitcase…. I wrote you words / They were selfish….”

    Lucy Kruger has vowed to maintain the integrity of her work (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)Lucy Kruger has vowed to maintain the integrity of her work (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    x
    Lucy Kruger has vowed to maintain the integrity of her work (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    Lucy Kruger has vowed to maintain the integrity of her work (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    She is willing to experiment with her voice, distorting it through a fuzz box, making it almost psychedelic, moving away from pop exuberance and into the realm of rock.
     
    The singer acknowledged that she feels uncomfortable with her music being branded indie rock. “It’s been very difficult for me to put myself in that particular genre because before I recorded the album I played solo acoustic stuff, and so I guess I was more in the singer/songwriter genre than anything else, with more of a folk-based style, although the writing wasn’t completely folk,” she said.
     
    Kruger said she doesn’t write and perform music to fit into a bracket.
     
    “I’m not too stressed about what people hear in my music,” she said. “I do think that what’s happening with regard to my music is that there’s an honesty about it that hasn’t been forced. When I started writing when I was 16, I wasn’t writing for an industry, I was writing because I was playing guitar and I loved singing. And I try to stick to that.”
     
    She was quick to add, “But is true that the album has gone more towards a slightly rockier sound, but it’s not hardcore rock. Given that indie is short for ‘independent music,’ I suppose it’s an appropriate label because that’s what I am doing at the moment.”
     
    Writing songs paramount
     
    “Four white walls” is the album’s first single and it is undeniably pop music. With its catchy chorus of “Four white walls / you’re too small…. Four white walls / I need more / But I am stuck here to this floor….” It’s a great pop song that’s receiving airplay on radio stations across South Africa.
    Kruger characterizes her music as ‘communication of feeling’ (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)Kruger characterizes her music as ‘communication of feeling’ (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    x
    Kruger characterizes her music as ‘communication of feeling’ (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    Kruger characterizes her music as ‘communication of feeling’ (Courtesy Lucy Kruger)
    Kruger explained, “I wrote that in my third year of university. Every year I moved house. I was sitting in an empty room when I wrote it. I had taken down all the paintings and so on from the walls. It was an empty space where I felt a sense of memory that wasn’t quite there. It’s about wanting more and feeling trapped by a system. That’s where that song comes from.”
     
    She insisted that writing songs is the most important process in the making of her music. “I get very excited when I write new songs. I don’t think it’s escapism necessarily for me; it just feels comfortable and right. It’s a thing that makes me feel like me.”
     
    Kruger added that song writing is also “scary” because it makes her feel vulnerable.
     
    “It’s quite a revealing thing. You’re sharing stories that you wouldn’t necessarily [normally share]. People would probably be uncomfortable if you told those kind stories in a public forum, but somehow to music it resonates with people a lot easier.”
     
    And “communication of feeling” is what Kruger said she’ll continue to love, no matter the vagaries of the music industry, and no matter how large or small her audiences become.  
     
    “I trust my product, I believe in my music,” she said.

    Listen to profile of South African vocalist Lucy Kruger (Darren Taylor)
    Listen to profile of South African vocalist Lucy Kruger (Darren Taylor)i
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Take It From The Top: Stanley Jordani
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 17, 2016 5:01 PM
    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously. He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

    Jazz fusion artist, Stanley Jordan is known for his touch technique which allows him to play melodies and chords simultaneously.  He can also play two different guitars or a guitar and piano at the same time.

     

     

     

     

    Blogs

    African Music Treasures