Local producer draws in ‘rare find’

2016-02-16 06:00
Music producer Helmut Meijer is working on his new record label and solo project.

Music producer Helmut Meijer is working on his new record label and solo project.

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It’s not unusual to hear of local artists being signed to international labels, but what about the other way round?

Mouille Point producer Helmut Meijer recently teamed up with American Idols finalist Cari Quoyeser (pronounced “Key-Hay-Zar”) to release her single “Fall of Rome” under his StoneBear & Mayor Records label.

Helmut, who was a co-founder of Merchant Records and has a string of Sama awards behind his name, is well-known for his work as composer and producer, but he is also a Hebrew scholar.

It was this interest that took him to Israel where he met Cari at the Abraham Hostel while the two were both on a sabbatical.

The “bubbly girl” whom he had got to know briefly during their time at the hostel later bumped into him again and asked him to sit in on an open mic night at the hostel.

“My jaw was on the floor,” Helmut says. Cari was already a regular on the music scene in Austen, Texas and had performed at the popular American SXSW festival. She placed in the top 30 of the 11th American Idols competition – no mean feat when you consider that she was up against 110 000 other singers.

Despite the less than ideal setting of the informal open mic night, Cari “held her own” and Helmut was sold, telling her: “This is a complete rare find.”

Once back in South Africa, Helmut discussed Cari’s talent with his business partners and they offered to record and release her self-written single if she got herself to South Africa at her own cost.

At home, Cari sings a brand of alternative indie under the name Cari Q, but Helmut explains they decided to give her new music more of a pop feel, switching to her full name, to distinguish between her different sounds. Another interesting point about the song is that Helmut didn’t need to use auto tune for this recording – something he says is rare for the pop industry.

StoneBear & Mayor Records will be releasing a second single for Cari in April, with a third one in the pipeline.

The boutique independent label currently works with three other female artists: Nina, Renate Riedemann and Amira, as well as with two of the label’s founders: Lukas de Beer and Helmut himself.

Helmut started the label with Lukas and Daniel Steenkamp to “stop the slavery to the market”.

After 17 years of producing for other artists, Helmut says it was time to put out music “we enjoy and believe in”.

With this in mind, Helmut will also be launching his first proper solo release under the name Calev soon.

While Helmut has put out singles and experimental music in the past, his name is more often associated with his work as a producer, particularly in the gospel industry.

This time round he is taking a very different approach and says listeners can expect music akin to the likes of Coldplay.

He hopes to introduce Calev and his band members (Lukas, Sven Blumer and Iwan Kemp) around April or May, but for now he’s working on singles for his other four artists.

“Fall of Rome” is already playing on South African radio stations and is available for download on iTunes.

Cari will be back in Cape Town in May to promote her songs. V For more information about Cari visit the CariQuoye­serMusic page on Facebook. For more on StoneBear & Mayor Records visit www.stonebearmayor.com.

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