Graeme's massive project

By admin
17 March 2011

Idols fans will remember the dramatic ending to its 2009 fourth season, when Jason Hartman and Sasha Lee Davids controversially had to share the win because of an SMS voting glitch.

This debacle, however, overshadowed a deserving season performance by Graeme Watkins, who finished as runner up.

One aspect which was overlooked about Graeme’s excellent on-stage performances is that he saw out the last rounds of the competition through a haze of painkillers, because his wisdom teeth were cutting through.

Doctors advised him to leave the competition and to have surgery to remove his wisdoms, but Graeme was not going to give up that easily. He soldiered on through the final rounds by popping a pill every three hours to keep the pain at bay.

Despite all this, and his performances being overshadowed by the flawed voting saga, Graeme has used the Idols platform to give his music career a kick in the right direction.

“Personally, Idols showed me what my strengths and weaknesses were. At the same time, it showed me what I am capable of and it showed me how hard I needed to work to achieve success,” he says.

It’s now two years later, and the Graeme Watkins Project’s first album, Corridors of the Mind, has just hit the shelves – and it looks like the lessons Graeme learned from the reality TV show are paying off.

“It was launched on March 9th and so far is being received very well. In fact, it’s flying!” he says.

“The album is an eclectic mix of rock, acoustic, indie, electro and grunge. But what we’ve done to set this album apart from all the other albums out there is that the music is clean, and we’ve used the Graeme Watkins Project flair to make the tracks unique.”

After Idols, Graeme joined forces with three well-established South African instrumentalists to form the GWP. The band now consists of Graeme on vocals, lead guitarist Ryno Zeelie (Danny K, We Will Rock You, Rent), bass guitarist Rudo Pieterse (Karen Zoid) and drummer Matthew Marinus (Zebra & Giraffe, Fever Tree, Skouspel).

“Many of the other Idols contestants entered the local music industry targeting the contemporary adult pop market. I must say I have nothing against this, it is a safe move and I have the utmost respect for the work they have done, but I wanted to do something different,” he says.

And do something different is exactly what they did.

“All the tracks tie into each other, there are almost no breaks between the various songs. What we wanted to do was make the audience feel like they’re listening to a memory, which is why the album is called Corridors of the Mind. It’s a brief walk through the psyche, and we’ve spiced it up with our own GWP style,” says Graeme.

The band’s approach to using influences from the likes of The Springbok Nude Girls, BOO!, The Killers and Depeche Mode is making their country-wide tour a much sought after event.

“We are currently finishing up in Cape Town, then we’re heading to Durban, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and back to Cape Town,” he says.

“It’s hectic, but I’m loving it, because I’m living my dream.”

Despite playing countless gigs, Graeme has one extra-special, once-in-a-lifetime performance coming up on Friday night.

“We’re playing for President Jacob Zuma! I can’t wait, it’s so exciting! I am going to call him up to come dance with us as we perform, I want him to do his Zuma-jig up on stage with us and show the country what an easy going guy he can be!”

The album and his rocketing music career are not the only fresh changes to Graeme’s life.

Late last year, he married his girlfriend of eight years, Kim Coppen. And while most artists involved in serious relationships have to keep them on track from the road using cell phones, Facebook and Skype, Graeme and his beau have a simple solution to coping with the pressure of being on tour: Kim is also his booking agent, and travels with him wherever he goes.

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