Cape Flats-born muso on coping with depression and growing as a creative in 2022 and beyond

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Singer Jimmy Nevis shares how he overcome challenges, including self-doubt and a lack of confidence, to get to where he is today.
Singer Jimmy Nevis shares how he overcome challenges, including self-doubt and a lack of confidence, to get to where he is today.

It’s fully masks off, 100% game on for many creatives after the last-standing Covid-19 mandates were scrapped this week.

After a difficult two years when many artists, entrepreneurs, chefs and social innovators lost their livelihoods, it’s now time to rebuild.

But where do you start as a creative who isn’t employed full-time anywhere and has no network to tap into?

Matthew Peter Le Roux, better known as singer-songwriter Jimmy Nevis, says he was one of those creatives hard-hit by the pandemic, battling with feelings of emotional exhaustion. 

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“It was a time for me of feeling helpless, even though I was doing my best, it felt like it wasn’t not enough,” says the Cape Town born musician known for his songs Heartboxing and All About It. 

“Not being able to perform, work, travel or network, and the negative impact all of this has on your salary and income is a lot to handle as a creative and entrepreneur. And on top of that people were having to deal with the loss of family members.”

Jimmy’s passion for music stems from his childhood while growing up in the community of Athlone, not far from the Cape Flats.

By the time he started primary school, he had already performed at the Baxter Theatre and was never shy to put on a show. However, that soon changed when he got to high school. 

“When I got to high school, I realised that maybe singing isn't the coolest thing. I became quite shy, which turned me into a loner and saw me withdraw into a shell,” says Jimmy. 

“I just didn’t want to sing anymore, my voice was breaking, and it became an awkward time overall.” 

It wasn’t until the singer decided to no longer keep his voice a secret by auditioning for a cabaret group in Grade 9 and singing in front of the entire school that his whole life changed. 

A few years later, at the age of 19 when Jimmy was ready to release his first single, Elephant Shoes, he bought blank CDs from a store, made copies of the song, and personally dropped them off at radio stations so they would play them on air. The rest, as they say, is history.

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With the last-standing Covid-19 mandates having been scrapped this week, the pop singer, songwriter, and producer shares some tips for aspiring creatives.

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Jimmy Nevis

Jimmy’s advice on how to overcome challenges and grow their hustle in 2022 and beyond

  • Don’t wait to be discovered

The singer says waiting to be discovered can eat away at a person’s confidence. However, he says South African creatives and entrepreneurs can overcome this by actively promoting their business or brand without waiting for someone to discover them. 

“In the beginning, I didn't believe in myself and didn't have the confidence to get on a stage and sing. So I thought I would wait until people discovered me. 

“However, when I decided to put myself out there and knock on as many doors as possible, I began believing 100% in my craft and growing my brand,” he says. 

  • Be aware of industry shifts and trends

Jimmy emphasises the importance of entrepreneurs and creatives staying on top of industry changes, especially considering how digital innovations have accelerated the rate at which most of these trends are evolving. 

“I come from the music industry, which changes almost every two years. For example, we were still selling physical CDs when I started my career. I think the only digital music channel at the time was iTunes."

“Fast forward to today, and CDs practically don’t exist. Instead, everyone is streaming their music online and paying subscriptions.”

The singer says creatives and entrepreneurs need to take the initiative to educate themselves about the latest industry changes by observing trends on social media to determine how they can adapt to stay relevant. 

“I get so much information from YouTube, where I can see what other artists are doing and the sort of music they're releasing. So, I believe using tools like social media to keep up with what's happening in the industry is something every entrepreneur and creative should be doing.” 

  • Create a social media presence 

The 7764 hitmaker says social media isn’t just a tool for entrepreneurs and creatives to keep up with trends; it can also help keep their brands and businesses top of mind in the market. 

“The entire world is on these platforms today, which is why entrepreneurs and creatives can't overlook them."

“For example, I struggle to find a business if it isn’t on a popular social platform. So having a presence on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube can help make entrepreneurs and creatives more accessible to customers and fans.” 

  • Connect with a relatable mentor

Nevis says entrepreneurs and creatives looking to break into their respective industries need to find a relatable mentor who can help them take their brand to the next level. 

Read more | Here is why you need a mentor now more than ever and how to find one in the time of Covid-19 and WFH

He says the best way to go about this is to join platforms that will connect them to industry experts they can relate to. 

“I’m a big advocate of mentorship and having relatable mentors in the same industry. But, unfortunately, there’s a shortage of mentors. Thankfully, platforms like Vuma's My Community Connects make accessing a range of industry experts from varying backgrounds even easier.” 

The recent widely reported suicides and mental health incidences among creatives and entrepreneurs point to a need for greater support for South Africa’s up-and-coming artists, says the local hitmaker, adding that more efforts aimed at nurturing creativity and innovation need to be made.

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