Cape Town - You’d be forgiven for thinking the soothing voice behind the catchy song is that of Justin Bieber.
But the man belting out the lyrics on the perils of love is Kerwin Baatjies – or Kerwin, the stage name his rapidly growing fanbase is better familiar with.
The 23-year-old local muso, best known for his hit Whela (Kapela), teamed up with fellow Cape Town-born singer Chad Saaiman for a song that’s bound to be a chart-topper called No Feelings.
We chatted to Kerwin about how church stirred him to pursue music, the inspiration behind No Feelings and why he’s quite excited about being a music industry newbie.
Wela kapela is a colloquial phrase Capetonians use when they want to tease someone or boast. How did the song come about and why that title?
I wrote the song in the early hours of a rainy day. It was just a melody I kept humming and eventually the hum sounded like wela kapela. I decided to use that as the core behind the concept. I also thought it’d be something my community (the Western Cape) could relate to.
You started singing when you were five. Where did your love of music stem from?
I was born in Retreat, in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. Growing up, I’d hear my father sing in an a capella quartet in church. I’d say hearing church choirs and groups sing really gave me joy as a boy. My cousin, he’s American, also sang and I admired him so much, I started imitating his smooth voice and accent!
And then you stumbled across your grandfather’s guitar at age 14 and taught yourself to play?
Yeah, I think the guitar is something that made its way to me. I came across my grandfather’s guitar in our garage, dusted it off and started strumming, trying to find different sounds. I actually wrote a song that day.
What was the inspiration behind No Feelings and how did the collaboration with Chad come about?
The song was inspired by a situation someone I knew found themselves in. Often, I try to put myself in others’ shoes to expand my perception when writing music. Chad has also been a major influence in my career. His guidance and mentorship have proved invaluable, so it's been great working with him. We've always wanted to collaborate but also needed to do it at the right time. I sent him a sample and he loved it. Things just fell into place at the right time and it made sense.
What excites you most about being an artist in the South African music industry?
The fact that I’m still young in the industry and have a long way to go. It sounds strange but I’m excited about the journey and the people I’ll get to meet and work with.
And we have to ask – your dream collab?
Right now . . . AKA.
LISTEN TO THE SONG HERE: