On a cold winter’s morning in the Highveld, I sat opposite Pierre van Schalkwyk in his parental home in Secunda. His ice blue eyes were full of warmth and laughter.
As we drank our coffee, his passion for what he does came to life as he spoke candidly about his journey thus far. A glorious journey of 1000 miles…
An old student of Hoërskool Oosterland, he moved to Stellenbosch in 2015 to start his degree in Drama and Theatre Studies.
After finishing his studies, Pierre applied to multiple jobs locally and overseas but to no avail.
Finally, he decided to take a leap of faith and leave South Africa to teach English in South Korea when he landed the role as Chad, the kidnapper in Suidooster and his journey started.
Before he made his television debut, he had made his debut on stage at the Suidoosterfees in Cape Town in 2018.
It was during this “dark period” as described by Pierre, that he started to write lyrics.
During this time, he had returned to Cape Town for a small production at the Baxter Theatre and that was when the role of Chad in Suidooster was awarded to him.
The cruel mistress named Fate was on his side when his mentor introduced him to Riaan Steyn, the owner of Traxtudios.
The two of them met, hit it off and it was decided at once that they will bring Pierre’s album to life!
READ ALSO: About Pierre https://www.pierrevanschalkwyk.art/about-me.html
This was a very strange concept for Pierre until he realised that his debut album, Studentejare was inspired by the nostalgia of his years at university. From the heartaches to the jovial times, through the tears and the merriment.
“At school I didn’t feel like I belonged. As an artistic guy, not being good at sports, I was different. At university I realised there were so many different types of people that again I felt like I didn’t fit in until I found my clan!”
It was only recently that he learned to embrace his uniqueness.
“To stand out is fantastic because now I can help people who are going through the same things I did on my journey.”
Being different is splendid Pierre explained to me while he tried to contain his excitement for what he was about to say next.
“I have always loved performing. I always performed in front of my parents or the family. When I was 12, I auditioned for the school revue. It was there that I felt I belonged,” he said with a hint of sadness hiding behind his eyes.
Music has always been an immense part of his life. When asked if he plays any instruments, a shy laugh escapes him and he said that his voice is his instrument. “I am learning how to play guitar now.”
He talked about his younger sister and how she plays 7 musical instruments. Wondering aloud if there ever would be a family collaboration, he answered: “Never say never…”
I asked Pierre if recording a song takes long and what happens behind the scenes. With a mischievous smile on his face and his ice blue eyes glistening, he told me more about the process.
“The process was interesting. We had planned everything and then… the lockdown was announced! All of a sudden we had to record 12 tracks in 3 days!” Pierre said excitedly.
I listened amusedly and wondered if songs are recorded in one go. Before I could ask, he answered my unvoiced question with enthusiasm.
“Sometimes the songs you record are one take wonders and other times you have to do it over and over again. You have to keep on singing to ensure that the emotions are present in the songs. It is easy to sing notes but it takes a lot to put emotion into a song.”
The album, Studentejare is a mix of folk, cabaret, blues and jazz.
READ ALSO: The mysterious hand of God works in powerful ways https://thebulletin.co.za/2020/05/25/god-works-in-mysterious-ways/
“My music has to tell a story. There has to be a costume and acting, there is a candle and a smoke machine. One of the things I realised was that we look at artists and think that you would like to be like them. Then you start the process and realise that you can never be like them because we all have a place in the industry.”
His smile did not leave his face while he explained that he is going to become the best actor he can be, the best musician he can be and the best him he can be! A journey that will take him to where he needs to be.
This is not the first or the last time you will read of Pierre van Schalkwyk, his future glistens like the stars in his blue eyes and his journey has just started!