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Gareth Wilson: The SA music industry

There’s nothing quite like unadulterated rock ‘n roll, and in South Africa, there is one act which stands head and shoulders above the rest – the Southern Gypsey Queen. They understand what it is to put on a show and that touring gets you in the face of the fans. The band consists of Paul Wilson (drummer), Tammy Wilson (bass) and Gareth Wilson (guitars). All three of them sing, and all three have been mates of ours for a number of years. After 10 years in the industry, Gareth gives some perspective on the SA music scene.

Name: Gareth Wilson

Age: 30

Hometown: Joburg (grew up in Molteno)



Gareth Wilson
"We've never strayed too far from who we are musically."

Music as a career is a fairly saturated market. How does Southern Gypsey Queen survive?

The industry in SA is so scene-based its scary. At the moment it’s the whole electro/rock thing, before that it was the Bellville scene, and there were many before that. I think our secret is that we kinda always did our own thing, sneaking under the radar a bit, making sure that we never strayed to far from who we are musically. Always be open to new music and ideas around you, but always try and find that special quality that makes your music yours, otherwise when the scene you are a part of pulls a Titanic, you will be looking for the closest bentley belt! Not too many acts survive when the next trend comes out. And of course, good songs – no matter what genre you play, sweat and blood creates good music. Keep it real, as they say.

What are the most important things musicians should factor in when planning a tour?

Logistics, logistics, logistics. It is called the music business for a reason. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but try and make sure that you work out your tour schedules properly – not driving up and down. Try working deals with the same sound crews to cut costs. But most importantly, have a good party while you’re on the road – it makes the world of difference to the dynamics within the band if you are enjoying yourself on tour. Play your set, no matter what the crowd are into.

Having travelled around the country and performed extensively, what’s the best advice you can give up-and-coming and fellow musicians?

Remember its a priviledge to make a living doing what you love, never take it for granted. Also, listen and learn wherever you can. I’ve been touring for almost 10 years and sometimes I learn something from an act that are playing their third show together. Honour those who went before you. I till have the utmost respect for guys like Albert Frost, Piet Botha, Springbok Nude Girls and Squeal.

Southern Gypsey Queen
Southern Gypsey Queen is (from left) Paul Wilson, Gareth Wilson and Tammy Wilson.

If possible, can you give some examples of how Facebook has helped SGQ in the band’s music career?

Ha ha! Old vleiskoek… Apart from the obvious reasons like marketing and advertising your shows, it is a great way to build up personal relationships with your fans.

What potential pitfalls should SA musicians steer clear of?

Believing your own hype, you are never bigger than the music. And being content with where you are is also a dangerous place to be, even if you’re playing solo in a coffee shop – aim for your own arena tours. There is nothing sadder than a musician who has given up.

What does a typical working week consist of for you?

At the moment with a new album [Delusions of Grandeur] coming out it is pretty hectic – radio and TV interviews, meetings with management, gigging constantly, shooting music videos, press shots… Once the hype is over life gets fun again, which when not on tour includes lots of writing and jamming, TV watching and just living it up! (laughs)

Who or what is the most important thing to you?

My mom. I would be clueless without her, even though I live more than 1000km from her, I don’t know what I’d do without the old bag.

Describe your ideal weekend.

Anywhere that involves lots of sex, surfing and tequilla.

Find out more about SGQ on Facebook and watch out for the band’s new album Delusions of Grandeur coming out in March!

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