It’s the 1st of June 2014 and I’m standing in an amphitheatre at the site of a structure built to commemorate the Voortrekkers, who under the leadership of Andries Pretorius journeyed north to the Transvaal as shit was hitting the fan in the Cape Of Good Hope. I’m reminded of the complexity of our history and its residual effect on our present by the largely bewildered reaction of the audience at Siyabonga Mthembu howling, ‘Apartheid Babalas!’ only a few hundred meters from the foot of the Voortrekker Monument.
Of course The Brother Moves On theatrical expression of present times is meant to ruffle some feathers, however that’s an article for another day and in the words of Siya himself, “The people want to dance, we want to tell a story”. Dance they did, as the audience reception changed from bewilderment to elation, at the speed of the Cape Doctor, for the performances of Al Bairre and Jeremy Loops.
I was one of those people who found themselves dancing, and I thought I’d write this article as an attempt to unpack the key elements behind the success of the Jeremy Loops Show. After all, Jeremy Loops is one of the select few local alternative (I use the term loosely) artists who is a dream for promoters from Linden to London. Not only did he host the biggest audience during that Park Acoustics, following his performance, the merchandise stall saw the most activity it had seen all day with both new and old fans queueing up to drop dollar on his merch.
Jeremy Hewitt is certainly doing something right and there is value in attempting to uncover what that something is.
Is it the craft?
Jeremy Loops describes his music Modern Folk – an unconventional, contemporary take on traditional folk music. He refined his sampled-based deconstruction of Folk four years before Ed Sheeran was playlisted by 5FM. With folk breaking into the mainstream, his decision to embark upon the folk gypsy opera was (regardless of it’s deliberateness) a wise move. What’s important here is that his music is not a duplicate of a trend, but rather his own unique interpretation of the genre.
Is it the message?
With song titles such as Power, Sinner and Mission To The Sun, Jeremy is an evangelist of never giving up. His happy go-lucky view on life is infectiously inspiring and the message is universal making it almost impossible to find a soul which cannot relate to his proverbs. Who doesn’t want to feel good about themselves? Who doesn’t want to be told that there is light at the end of the tunnel?
Is it the performance?
It’s one thing recording and producing music but it’s a whole other thing performing the music live. The general trend for successful local artists starts with building a strong core audience based on your live performances. In terms of Jeremy, his appeal is based largely on his unique and interactive live performances. To put it simply, I doubt any other bands currently have a technical rider which includes a children’s toy.
Is it the community?
Not many artists quite understand the value of social media, and even those who do, come a bit short in terms of leveraging all of its utility. Jeremy allows his fans access into the daily happenings of his life and as busy as he may be, he manages his online profiles personally going out of his way to reply to as many messages as possible. What’s more important is that he involves his audience in his craft using social media – opening up submissions for his next video to all his fans and even using social media on the hunt for his missing children’s toy. He has successfully transformed his fanpage into an actual community.
Is it the goat?
Maybe his success is not down to anything which I’ve suggested above. Maybe it all comes down the magical powers of his pet goat. Or maybe its this picture below of him on this horse. Or maybe there’s something mystical about the feather in his hat. Or maybe with each tree he plants, a seed is sown for his success.
It’s not any of these individual suggestions but rather a combination of all of the above coupled with his humble and approachable demeanour. Jeremy doesn’t take himself too seriously and he wants everyone to be involved in his success and for the world to be a better place.
Jeremy is a nice guy, and maybe nice guys don’t always finish last.
What do you think his success is down to?