Nataniël – no ordinary man

2017-04-25 06:00


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“I looked at the world and I did not like how ordinary it was, so I decided to create my own reality.”

This is according to Nataniël le Roux, better known simply as Nataniël – the iconic songwriter, singer and entertainer who hails from Kuils River.

Nataniël is celebrating 30 years as a solo artist and recently performed his show 30 years, 90 minutes at the Artscape Theatre in celebration thereof.

He says while growing up in Kuils River, he attended school with a talented group of artists and together they launched a school drama group and newspaper and organised painting competitions.

“There was a conglomerate at our school – a cultural explosion in the town during that time, with a unique group of people who came together to perform,” he says.

Nataniël says he did not care what others thought about him when he was growing up.

“I was three when I decided I was going to be famous. I started dressing up in my grandmother’s clothes and doing what I wanted to do. I have never felt comfortable or at home since the beginning of my life and to this day. I always created my own reality as a child – and when you are a child you are more fearless than you are as a grownup,” he says.

He says the fact that he was never attacked for the way he dressed at school or at university was a miracle.

“I was never bullied at school. I think people were scared of me, but I found them strange and it was shocking that people were shocked by me,” he says.

He found it to be a much bigger insult to be boring than to be different. He credits a wild and happy childhood for the fact it was never an issue for him to dress as he liked and be who he wanted to be from a young age. “My granny said: ‘Do what you want – just fly.’ She was my hero and best friend.

“I was already performing before she died and she would come to my shows and she would say: ‘I do not know what you just did, but it was fantastic,’” he says.

Nataniël says his grandmother was a wild woman – she was free and didn’t see colour, age, rich or poor.

“She loved people and her doors were always open and there were always people over. She had a need for festivity and that I inherited from her. She was very optimistic and I do not think she realised how she excited people and how people loved to be around her. I aspire to be like her,” he says.

He says his grandmother confirmed that you do not fall in love with people – you fall in love with how you feel when you are with them.

“She made them feel good, and that was very important and I want to live like that today,” he says.

Nataniël says he also credits his career and life to his family.

“We make jokes and laugh at people, but we laugh at ourselves first. That is how we cope with life and everything it throws at us. My father and grandfather would make jokes and tell stories and my cousins and siblings and I would sit and listen and create our own fantasy world. There was much freedom in the way we thought, and there still is,” he says.

Nataniël says his independence is what stands out most in his 30 years of being a solo artist.

“It took me a long time to have an audience, but I never deviated from my plan. I never had a plan B. I operated just on instinct and that built the foundation, but it gave me freedom. It taught me to be completely independent. It all comes down to ‘Do it or you will die of hunger’. I fainted because I didn’t eat for days. I slept on a bare bed because I cut up my linen for costumes. I was incredibly poor, but I instinctively knew what I was born to do,” he says.

Now one of his biggest desires, which is not professional but personal, is to spend more time with his friends and family.

“I am also unsure where I am at home. I still have to figure that out. However, for now I am rebuilding friendships and spending time with my friends and family,” he says.

Nataniël says he is grateful to the members of the public who have supported his career from the start and he hopes they have enjoyed the journey so far. He says he is nowhere near the end.

“With this show I want to ‘release’ people with me for 90 minutes. Forget about your life and laugh about things. People have told me after watching my show that they felt a sparkle in their souls – they felt happy and light, and that is all I want. That is what makes me happy,” he says.

Nataniël says that anyone wanting to start a solo career must have stamina.

“We live in an instant society and we see people go on shows and overnight they are famous and they win and disappear. You have to decide: Do I want a career or attention? Then you have to work hard. The harder it is, the more determined you become. You have to work like a dog if you want to reach your goals,” he says.

He believes that if you do anything else besides what you want to do, your soul will never rest.

“You have to do something that makes other people have better lives. People must leave your presence feeling different for all the right reasons.”

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