Who is Jo Black?
I met Jo when working a private function four years ago, I served the craft beer and he set up the sound. This was long before he grew the now famous black mane and focused on developing his brand as Jo Black.
Born Jo Engelbrecht grew up in Pretoria North and started working after school. He ran his own construction company where, for approximately 8 years, he built everything from roads and bridges to hospitals and houses. Jo soon realised that there is more to life than just work, and things took an about turn.
I had a chance to chat to Jo, just prior to his performance at Liefde by die Dam 06 August at Emmerentia Dam, performing side by side with some of the best local talents such as JR and Die Heuwels Fantasties and others!
Brett Magill and Jo Black:
Brett Magill (BM): Hi Jo, thanks for chatting with us, I know you’re a busy guy. That’s actually something I wanted to touch on, you’re not just a musician, are you? We met a while back for a corporate event, me doing beer and you setting up the sound, so for those who don’t know, what are you up to now?
We will be playing songs from the new album and maybe one or two surprises..
BM: This year, you’re performing at LIEFDE BY DIE DAM 2017, what can the fans expect from the new name in modern Afrikaans musiek?
JB: It’s still an unreal thinking I get to perform on stage with people like Heuwels, Francois, Laurika…. We will be playing songs from the new album and maybe one or two surprises.
BM: Your original name: Jo Engelbrecht, besides sounding wicked cool, what’s the thought around the stage name Black? (Is it just the beard?)
JB: Hahaha, the beard is just to cover my double chin! No, I was working over seas when I just started in construction and the front man wanted to introduce me but couldn’t pronounce my surname so he introduced me as, Jo Black.
BM: When it comes to these festivals, we know things get a little nuts and the fans love to get involved with their rock star, what’s the craziest fan story you have? Tell me, in detail, I’ll go get the popcorn.
JB: There aren’t many of those yet, but I recently played at a gig and afterwards I was doing a CD signing and this lady comes up and grabs my beard and then pulls in it… For some reason, people think it’s glued on, but it actually attached and that a different type of ache. (Ouch)
BM: On music for this year’s Liefde by Die Dam, can you tell me a bit more about the inspiration for Skepe?
JB: Skepe is based on everyday situations, the struggles we go through and telling others that we are build to move forward, to take on the challenges and not to stay in one place. We all have a place and it’s our purpose to find it, to never give up and always believe that there is hope, even in times where it feels hopeless.
BM: As an English kid raised in the South, Afrikaans music wasn’t really the conversation around the dinner table or spinning at the local house party. It was some weird version of trance (I don’t think we had trance then), but when it comes to your music, what kind of reaction have you had from the community outside of the Afrikaans music scene, or people that normally listen to Afrikaans music?
JB: It is always amazing hearing how many different people have heard the songs. I have had a lot of different feed back from all over the world, and it is touching hearing that people listen to me… Jo Black, especially in a time where there are so much talent around us.
BM: Mr Black, having met you once, you struck me as a man that couldn’t possibly have only one project on the go. Are there any other secret works coming around outside of the Skepe album and BTG that you’d like to tell us about? Music or otherwise?
BM: It seems I’ve been out the loop, so I’m sorry about that, but, internationally. You’re making waves across the borders of our beloved South Africa. Anything new coming up overseas? Adventures? Drinking stories?
JB: We will see what next year holds, we have had a few invites… so let see what happens!
BM: This life can be tough, and tougher still for those musicians that haven’t yet hit the rock bottom of the industry and are still spiralling their way down. If there was one piece of advice you’d give a new/young musician, before leaving us today, what would it be?
JB: It only takes one person to walk in at the right time, at the right venue on the right day, and you may never know when that is. But as long as you have hope, never give up and always do what your passion is, your ship will sail and never giving up sounds like a cliche but it took me 16 years before that person walked in…
BONUS ONE: If I saw you at this year’s Liefde by Die Dam, what’s your drink of choice?