Recognising something greater than ourselves is an innate quality of being human. It breeds an admiration for those who have persued fearlessly that which they have a passion for, or a desire to achieve. Talent is one of those qualities. And often when talent is captured while it is raw and free, makes the heart of that talent even more admirable.
We have set out to find a young talent in our country that will inspire other youths to follow suit. Introducing Cobus Potgieter: Drummer extra-ordinaire.
Cobus Potgieter is one of South Africa’s biggest internet sensations. He’s never had any drumming lessons (other than listening to music and watching drumming videos). He has a huge admiration and respect for the craft that is drumming and has a desire to be the best he can possibly be. He doesn’t play the drums or practice because he has to, he plays the drums because he can’t help it. He independently produces all his videos and records, sets up, edits, mixes, masters, performs in and uploads his own videos on YouTube. He used to record videos by borrowing cameras and lighting equipment when he started making videos. Nowadays (thanks to sponsorships) he has his own recording and lighting equipment.
Junk Mail publishing had the privilege of interviewing 23 year old Cobus earlier in the week. He had some interesting answers to our questions.
Would you ever want to play in a band or group? Definitely! Music really comes alive between a group of musicians. One thing that this whole online journey has taught me is that musicians don’t even have to be in same room (or on the same continent!) to be able to inspire each other and create music together. I would never survive playing by myself the whole time, regardless of the format; creating music with other musicians is where it’s at.
Would you ever leave South Africa to sign a record deal overseas? Within the right circumstances, for sure. I don’t think that’s necessarily best case scenario, these days there are SO many more options to be a financially self-sustaining musician, but that would be very cool. Ii just want to create music/media and be creative, regardless of the context.
What are you currently working on? At the moment I am planning some original material, to fill the gaps between recording drum coves for YouTube. I’m also very keen on introducing a new part of my website where people can sign up to get access to a huge amount of original content; music, behind the scenes video, mini-documentaries about the invitations and trips to work with international artists, aswell as collaborations that create original music.
Did you know that social media would have such a huge impact in distributing your work? I could NEVER have anticipated this whole journey, and the effect of social media! A ridonkulously cool surprise, though, obviously 🙂 I think it’s vastly underrated, especially in countries crippled by high bandwidth prices (such as our own) since people don’t have access and aren’t exposed to the incredible opportunities the Web offers, especially in terms of online media.
You obviously have a natural inclination towards playing the drums. Any other musical instrument that tickles your fancy? i’m pretty amped to pick up a guitar and just get the basics down.. just to see if it catches on. I have a very melodic approach to playing drums, so I’m very keen on learning an exclusively melodic instrument, like the guitar. Maybe I suck at it (which I would be ok with..) but I figure it would be stupid to not try it out.
Since you are in the public eye, do you get criticised often and how do you handle that criticism? I definitely get quite a lot of criticism thrown my away, especially since I’ve never had lessons and since I have a very different approach to playing drums and producing the videos for the web. Constructive criticism is ALWAYS appreciated, I value feedback from passionate musicians/audio engineers/video producers incredibly much, since those comments have the potential to turn into progression.. which is such a huge part of what I strive for. Mindless insults unfortunately also make their way into the comments on my videos, that’s just the nature of the internet, I guess. But a good friend of mine always told me “never count your opinions; weigh them..” and most comments measured against that model either immediately become irrelevant, or immediately become worth a LOT.
What do you hope to achieve with your musical talent? I hope to be happy, that is all. I figure, if you’re extremely passionate about making music (or painting, or surfing, or acting..) then it’s because you should be. There is so much real and lasting happiness locked up inside the passion for doing what you love, and even though we live in a society that cares more for the effectiveness of an individual than his/her happiness, I still hope and pray that I stay passionate enough to keep pursuing something worth more than just being “effective”. This answer has already become way too deep and hippie, but the truth is that my “musical talent” wouldn’t make any sense to me if it didn’t result in creative expression that is liberating, and something that is worth more than financial profit; any passionate musician knows this.
Do you believe in hard work or pure talent? Both! I believe that talent is a great way to start the journey, but that hard work is the only way to finish it.
This video features doing what he does best, playing drums:
If you are a musician you might find the Musical Instruments section on the Junk Mail website interesting, so feel free to check it out.