Continental Fare – A Q&A with South African Musician Jesse Clegg

We like to think that we know a lot about music, but we have to admit that we don’t know much about the industry in South Africa.

Fortunately, we had the chance to interview South African musician Jesse Clegg — the 25-year-old son of legendary singer Johnny Clegg — and learn a little more about him and the scene in his home country.

The younger Clegg is a platinum-selling star in his own right – with two albums already under his belt as well as four Top Ten singles in South Africa.

It’s a pretty good feat, seeing that Clegg has been producing professional music for just five years.

As for the music? It’s strong, bluesy and mature.

Here’s one pull for your pleasure:

Clegg recently played his alt-rock tunes at the CMJ Music Marathon 2013 in New York — and while he debuted a single called “Sinking” there, we think he’s one rocker on the rise.

Without further ado .  . .

The NewsWhistle Q&A with musician Jesse Clegg
Name: Jesse Clegg
Date of Interview: October 2013
Age (if you want to give it up): 25
Birthplace: Johannesburg
Current town: Johannesburg/Toronto
Occupation: Musician

1. What’s the funniest or saddest thing that’s happened to you this week?

The saddest thing: I got a $70 parking ticket today.

2. What’s your favorite movie? And why?

“Lost in Translation” – it brings back nostalgic memories of traveling when I was young, being on tour with my family. Having grown up in the music industry, the first 6 years of my life were spent in airports, hotels and tour busses. That film really captures the bittersweet alienation of life on the road. I also am a huge fan of Bill Murray and he is amazing in that role.

3. What’s the biggest risk you took in life?

Becoming a musician. There are no guarantees in the arts, and it is an act of great love to dedicate one’s life to something so unpredictable, for better or worse. That said, I am very proud to call myself a musician and I am so glad that I had the courage to follow my passion.

4. If you could go back in time and do one thing over, what would that be?

[Left blank]

5. Tell us your favorite joke:

All the jokes that I know are too inappropriate ; )

6. What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

I have a random patch of blond in my hair, I’ve had it my whole life. (I’m dark otherwise)

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?

Every man has to be his own savior.

8. Who’s your favorite celebrity? And why?

I’m not really into celebrity culture. I have many favourite artists whose work I greatly admire (eg. Thom York, Damon Albarn). But I don’t feel the need to meet them or hear about their personal lives.

9. What’s your strangest phobia or superstition?

I’m not too crazy about birds. They freak me out a little.

10. Last, but not least, is there anything you want to pitch, promote or discuss?

I am about to release a brand new single, its called Sinking and it’s coming out in the next few weeks! I will be announcing it on my website very soon (

11. Oh, and a bonus curve question . . . We like your sound a lot, and we know the KONGOS. But when it comes to other South African groups we’re a little embarrassed to say we don’t know too much about them. Can you tell us about some other South African bands that NewsWhistle readers should be listening to?

There are so MANY great SA artists to check out:

Singer/songwriter – Arno Carstens

Rock – Springbok Nude Girls, Shadowclub, Dan Patlansky

Electronic – Felix Laband, Sibot

African – Hugh Masekela

Highly recommend all of these, but there are many more.


Lead-In Image Courtesy of Jesse Clegg