What comes to mind when you think of Durban? Sandy beaches touched by the warm waters of the Indian ocean. Colourful Rickshaws, pineapples on a stick, Ushaka and endless summer throughout the year. But we never think of the live music there. Although Durban is the birthplace of Gqom we tend to overlook the capital city of Kwa-Zulu Natal.
Nick Pitman is a Durban based singer and songwriter who can jam the guitar pretty wild. He recently released the single “Rollercoaster” which features Nosihe Zulu (SA Idols season 12 – Top 10). I must admit the earworm of “Rollercoaster” got me good and I simply had to find out more about Nick Pitman and the idea behind “Rollercoaster”.
STM: Tell us about Nick Pitman. Where are you from? And how did you get into music?
NP: I’m a guitarist, songwriter, and music teacher in Durban, and sometimes I sing! I love jazz and blues but I’m open to everything. I started playing when I was 12 years old and listened to a ton of Dan Patlansky, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and BB King.
STM: Durban is the last city we tend to look for new music in South Africa. What is the music scene like in Durban?
NP: You should come to have a look here some more! There’s some great music that really does go under the radar. It’s a bit sad actually because the musicians here are as good as anywhere else, it’s just the perception the Durban doesn’t have anything great to offer that scares people off.
The hip hop scene and the house /electro/Gqom scene dominates here, so in that respect, I think Durban does quite well. The band scene, however, is tough. There aren’t very many venues to play so quite a few of the up and coming musos are getting more into the electro/DJ thing. Most of the gigs I play are either hotel gigs, corporate gigs or cover gigs. There way more of that stuff going around.
STM: Your new single “Rollercoaster” should be playlisted on national radio (that’s how we feel) – where did the inspiration come from?
NP: Ayy Thanks! I hope one day it does, that would be amazing! I was definitely inspired by the good times I had with my girlfriend in the summer of 2018! The inspiration musically comes from a desire to blend a bit of soul with some pop with some electronic music as well as the band element, especially with the guitar playing through the track. Lyrically I wanted to tell a story about a good night out, meeting the love of your life, partying with your friends, dancing with someone.
STM: The music video for “Rollercoaster” is quite interesting how the collab between dancing, performing, that guitar solo…where did the idea come from?
NP: I had this idea that I just wanted the video to be epic! A party where all the best people feature! Like it had to be over the top dancers, huge house, extras, band, lights, massive statues!
I had to try and incorporate as many things as I could base on who was around. So I’d met a lot of dancers in the last 2 years, so some of them had to be there. I met all these killer musos over the last few years so they had to be there. The stylist ELLPAG has such great style and so he had to be there as well! All those mediums of expression, music, dance, fashion, videography, to me are just much better when they’re all together so I wanted that to come across.
STM: You are a songwriter as well as a singer, where does your inspiration come from?
NP: I’m inspired mainly by good stories. If a piece of music, or a book, or a movie really draw me in and keep me there for a long period of time, that inspires me. So when it comes to songwriting I really try to build energy and a story throughout the song. Lyrically I try to tell a story from one verse to the next.
STM: Durban tends to be relaxed vibes filled with surf, beaches and skaters. Where do you fit in?
NP: Haha! Although I’ve done the surfing and skating thing when I was a lot younger, I was just so bad, so I stopped soon in terms of fitting in, I Don’t! I’m around people from all different types of places and work. I will happily play with and be around the jazz musos and then rush off to a cover gig at the biker bar! I fit where people let me fit I guess.
STM: What is your advice for any musicians out there in Durban? How can they get noticed by the world of music?
NP: My advice would be to make sure whatever instrument you’re playing, you practice every day. Don’t ever stop. Because when the power cuts out and that CDJ dies, all your gonna have left is an acoustic instrument that needs playing. If you’re a singer, sing! All the time! If you’re a DJ /singer make sure to learn an instrument, the piano is the best for software, so get a keyboard and learn some chords. YouTube has everything you need.
STM: What are your goals for 2020?
NP: In 2020 I want to release an EP/album. I’ve got enough music, I just need to get it all down now. I’d like to do a tour with my band and play a festival or two. I also teach so another goal is for my students to kick ass on their instruments by the end of the year.
STM: Where can we find out more about your music and upcoming gigs?
NP: You can find more music on all the platforms, Spotify, Apple, Google etc, and videos on YouTube, search for Nick Pitman. My upcoming gigs will be on my Facebook (Nick Pitman Music) and Instagram (@njpitman) pages.
STM: If you can see any artist/band (dead or alive) who will be and why?
NP: Jimi Hendrix. Quality playing, Trippy effects and Raw Energy for days. The guy was a mystic. I’d love to lose myself in that crowd, to the sounds of Hendrix!