Hanru Niemand is a versatile Afrikaans singer-songwriter who hails from the Boland, where he also practices as a psychologist by day. As musician he has quietly made a name for himself among music aficionados since 2003, and these days he boasts a cult following throughout South Africa.
His singular unplugged, finger-picking guitar style lays the groundwork for taut, emotive lyrics that showcases the most beautiful aspects of his mother tongue and speaks of a sincere understanding of the things that make us human – hopes, dreams, aspirations, loss, hurt and love, always love.

Up until now, three of Hanru’s albums have seen the light of day: ‘Tot Stilte’ (2006), ‘Roepwoorde’ (2010) and ‘Kreeftegang‘ (2016). This winter he extends his oeuvre with the addition of a brand-new album, entitled ‘Opgrawings vir ‘n Lugkasteel’ (2020). The title loosely translates to ‘excavations of an air castle’ (‘air castle’ is a term used for ‘pipe dream‘ in Afrikaans). 

We chat to him about his music below.

Your works have been translated in both Finnish and Russian by notable translators, how did this come about?

In both cases, the translators were already interested in Afrikaans music and they must have come across my video for the song Tot Stilte on YouTube. So they contacted me for the lyrics and the rest is history.

Have you played any overseas shows or plan to at some stage?

It is one of my biggest dreams to one day play in countries like Belgium and the Netherlands. If I ever get the opportunity, I won’t hesitate.

You released your first album in 2006, how long was it in the making and what challenges or obstacles did you face?

Well, I started playing my own songs in Stellenbosch about 4 years earlier, let’s say 2002. So ‘Tot Stilte‘ was almost like a greatest hits, the tried and tested songs that I knew worked. I would say the biggest obstacle was trying to find someone who would take on the project. No label wanted to sign me and so I ended up doing the project myself.

Your second album came 4 years later, have you got any new work coming out?

Yes, after ‘Roepwoorde‘ (2010) came ‘Kreeftegang‘, which was launched in 2016. This year I’ll release another one called ‘Opgrawings by ‘n Lugkasteel‘.

What inspires your sound and lyrics?

My sound is sometimes hard to pinpoint, it oscillates between folk and cabaret. Those are the guys that inspire me, a weird mix like Leonard Cohen, Koos Du Plessis, and Jacques Brel. Lyrics-wise, I think you could say it sort of gravitates around loss, so some sad love songs, but also sadness about other stuff. In a way, they’re all songs of mourning. 

Listen to ‘Opgrawings vir ‘n Lugkasteel’ HERE.
Categories: Music