FeaturedInterviewsIssuesJanuary 2022

Wouter Kellerman Artist Interview

Globe-trotting flutist and composer Wouter Kellerman received a GRAMMY® Award for his album Winds of Samsara, which also debuted at nr.1 on the World Music Billboard charts. Kellerman has also been recognised at home, winning eight SAMA’s (the South African equivalent to the American Grammy), reinforcing his status as one of South Africa’s foremost musicians. Delighting audiences with a magnetic alchemy of warmth and technical mastery, Kellerman finds his inspiration in the spaces between cultures and countries, genres and disciplines.

How has the Pandemic affected your career?

It’s been a pretty devastating time financially, since I usually earn 80% of my income through performances. However, the lack of performing has given me a lot more time to be creative and record - I managed to complete two big projects that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time :)

What creative ways have you focused on to combat the challenges brought forward by the pandemic?

I’ve plunged head-first into creating, writing and recording. I am lucky to have a recording set-up at home, so I was able to continue to create and record. The music has been such a good outlet for the frustrations brought on by the pandemic. The collaborative nature of the new music I’ve been working on was also a form of human contact that was much needed at the time.

Tell us about your new GRAMMY Nomination!

I’ve been a long-time admirer of the multi-instrumentalist and composer David Arkenstone - and he and I had been speaking for a while about doing something together. As the pandemic started, we realised that we both finally had some time available to spend on a collaboration. We’ve worked very hard since May 2020 to create a new album called Pangaea, and we finally released the new album in September 2021.

The album is themed around Pangaea, which is the name of the super continent that existed before it broke apart to form the existing continents. The music calls for unity in these divided times and for a culture of nurturing the earth and nature. It’s been especially difficult to create together on different continents, but I’m very grateful to see that the music is being appreciated - we were both over the moon when we heard that the album has been nominated for a GRAMMY!

What are your goals personally?  Professionally?

My main personal goal is to live a loving life. And then there is so much to appreciate and enjoy, that one tends to forget while on the treadmill, so it’s something I have to stop to remind myself every now and then.

Professionally I just want to create beautiful music - that is what keeps me going every day. And if I get to spread some love across the world, that’s a bonus :)

What inspires you the most in life?

I find it amazing how incredible people are. I love it when people achieve amazing things, and many people do so quietly and unassumingly, to such an extent that one has to pay extra attention to spot it :)

What has been your greatest challenge personally? Professionally?

I find it very challenging to juggle all the demands from the different parts of life and keep it all in balance! I tend to get very focused on one part and then neglect very important aspects of life in the short term, which invariable comes home to roost at some stage! :)

Professionally it is difficult to manage and balance the music and the business of music. It is very sad when you spend night and day creating a beautiful new album that goes largely unheard because of a lack of marketing and promotion. So you have to allocate some time to promote, and it just feels like there’s never enough time to get to everything - something I think a lot of musicians will relate to!

What is the most exciting thing in your life right now?

The prospect of a more normal life as the pandemic winds down, and the GRAMMY nomination.

What are you completely bored with right now?

Staying home

What is keeping you busy these days?

Promoting the new album, and starting on some new music

One habit you wish you could break?

Staying up super late.

If you had a super power, what would it be?

Believing that everything is possible.

What is one thing you wish you knew at 19?

Taking things slowly sometimes gets you further.

What is your Spirit Animal?

The South African bird the Hadeda :)

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