Regarded as one of the one of the most ground-breaking indie-acoustic musicians in South Africa today, Eland Gray is currently between countries.
Eland, who plays the Rialto Theatre in Brighton on Friday, July 15, says his most recent home was Spain, but South Africa might reclaim him yet.
“I am from Durban originally, but I moved to Cape Town about nine or ten years ago and started doing a lot of music there and then started touring around the country and then doing the bigger festivals. I developed a bit of a name for myself.
“My wife is Spanish. We married in 2010, and we did a small tour in Europe in 2012. We played eight shows in a few countries and then got back to South Africa for a couple of years, carrying on doing festivals and shows, but a year and a half ago we had to leave the country because South Africa created these really bizarre visa laws, and a long story short, my wife had to leave South Africa to sort out her visa and they would not give a visa to our baby boy. I thought ‘Why don’t we take this chance to go to Europe?’
“Spain is our most recent home, and we will go back there after this tour but then we will think about going back to South Africa either semi-permanently or at least for a very long visit. We are just weighing it up. We are balancing the choice between Cape Town and Barcelona.
“My wife was in Cape Town for almost ten years, and I was in South Africa all my life. We have lots of friends there, people that know us. We can easily click back in there and work. My wife was making porcelain there and had quite a good career, and also South Africa is super-beautiful.
“The cons are that South Africa is obviously not the safest place to be. They say that South Africans live in this sub-conscious state of permanent fear, looking over their shoulder, always worried about being secure, not walking down dark alleys. But it is not like every neighbourhood is a war zone.”
All the family have had cars stolen, though returned 90 percent of the time. Eland knows plenty of people that have been burgled too. But on the other hand, he says the closest he has come to being mugged was in Berlin.
“You have just got to weigh it all up. You have got to compromise. I have enjoyed the safe environment of being in Spain, of being able to walk back at 2am or 4am and be safe, that there are children and grannies out, that you can leave your bike and expect it to be there, that people don’t bother to lock their houses. But there are so many great things about South Africa as well.”
As for the music, Eland studied classical guitar on and off at high school before going on to study jazz, doing a music degree at Durban: “And then after that in Cape Town, I had an acoustic guitar career. I take a lot of elements of all that, and also improvising is part of what I do.”
Tickets cost £12.50 (£10 concessions). Visit www.rialtotheatre.co.uk.
Also at The Rialto
The oldest surviving member of the Dad’s Army TV series is coming to The Rialto.
Frank Williams offers a unique glimpse behind the scenes in More Tea Vicar? which is at the venue on Saturday, July 16 (3pm).
He will provide stories about the celebrated TV and film casts of Dad’s Army, as well as a host of other TV classics, including Emergency Ward 10, All Gas & Gaiters, Morecambe & Wise and The Two Ronnies.
Frank will be interviewed by author Chris Gidney for this afternoon of nostalgia.
Tickets cost £14.50 (£12.50 concessions).
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