Al Bairre-ing it all at the Woordfees

Tanya Steenkamp

Al Bairre burst on to the music scene in 2011 and have since become regulars at South Africa’s biggest and best festivals and venues across the country. Despite this, the band is yet to sign to a label.

Al Bairre-Neethlingshof
Lead singer Nic Preen locks eyes with guitarist Kyle Davis hoping to fall in love some more. PHOTO: Tanya Steenkamp

Julia Johnson, the band’s cellist, explained their proudly independent status.

“We’ve been offered deals and things but we just feel at this point that they can’t really offer us anything that’s worth signing to a label for.”

Lead singer, Nic Preen, added, “the South African music industry is so small so you know everyone already. They can’t offer you anything that you can’t do yourself. So we’re not closed off to record labels, we’d be quite excited about an international one being interested in us.”

“Or even a South African one that offers something to us that we can’t do ourselves,” says Julia.

Speaking about the South African music scene they feel musically it’s incredible, but opportunities are limited.

“I think it’s very nurturing so it’s great when you’re starting up. Everyone is there to give you an opportunity. If you work hard and you know what you want it’s not hard to get to where you want to be. Once you’ve played the festivals and all the venues, you can still expand your fan base. But in the end you’re just shifting up monetary brackets,” said Johnson.

Preen agrees with Johnson’s take on limitations on the local scene.

“There’s definitely a kind of wall. We haven’t hit it but we can see it,” he said

The band is eager to explore opportunities overseas and are planning their second tour to the United Kingdom later this year.

They released their first mini LP, Experience the Al Bairre Show with the Al Bairre Experience, three months ago.

“It took us three years to do a mini LP so it’s probably gonna take us like nine years to do an album. But we are working on it,” said Preen.

The songwriting process differs every time – something that frustrates the band immensely. Preen explained, “We’re always really surprised when a song is finished because we don’t know how we got there and it really frustrates us.”

He’s generally the one who approaches the band with an idea for a song – usually dealing with “girls and existentialism.”

Their latest single, Lets fall in love some more, deals with the contradictory emotions experienced in a break up.

“My girlfriend broke up with me and I was so angry with her but still very in love with her. so wanted to fall in love some more, but not at all at the same time,” Preen explained.






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