Jonathan Velthuysen aka The Hollow Body is a musician and songwriter originally from Cape Town, South Africa. The Hollow Body’s sound can be best described as acoustic freak-folk paired with elements of alternative and garage rock.
In 2013, The Hollow Body self-released debut album Johannine, comprised of material recorded in a small Cape Town studio. In January 2017, Awake Till Dawn was released capturing The Hollow Body’s essence and portraying Velthuysen’s unique vision.
In anticipation of Endless Daze Festival in South Africa, we spoke with The Hollow Body about songwriting and recording:
Take us through your songwriting process. Are there any particular steps you take when putting music together?
Yes. I take whichever steps are necessary (the ones I have enough time, resources or energy for – it is supposed to be fun, you know?!) Writing songs is one of my favorite things to do, but somehow still a last resort. There really has to be something to write about.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Altered states of consciousness. Peace and quiet. Nature.
In January, your latest EP ‘Awake Until Dawn’ was released, how did the recording process differ to that of ‘Johannine’ – debut full-length released in 2013?
Well, I was very happy to make ‘Awake Till Dawn’ – it was a relief. Working with Brugel the Elder at his studio was a very inspiring and creative time. It took very little time (we had very little time) and there was clarity. Making ‘Johannine’ was a bit of a personal struggle.
David Bowie is quoted as saying “It makes me so angry that people concentrate on lyrics. It implies there’s no message in the music itself.” What are your thoughts on this statement? Music or lyrics?
The combination is the deal for me. Otherwise I’d focus on poetry or instrumentals (I do love both poetry and instrumentals). But, I certainly don’t get angry about anyone concentrating on either.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
It is totally dependent on the audience. Sometimes it’s really good and I like to look at people, other times I shut my eyes and forget they are there. Sometimes it’s so hard that I keep my eyes open deliberately, sometimes it’s so good that I shut my eyes anyway.
If you had to choose between never playing live again, or never being able to release music again… Which would you go for, and why?
Never playing live again wouldn’t bother me. That’s where I’m heading and I’m happy about it. There are more meaningful things to do than to entertain people as they drink and eat animals while the world falls to pieces around us. It’s ironic that the less I play live, the more I write and record, the more I enjoy music. And yes, the money does have a lot to do with it.
You have recently relocated to Berlin from Cape Town, how would you compare either city’s live music scene?
Berlin is a crazy, wonderful, dangerous, inspiring and distracting place. The people you choose to surround yourself with make the scene. Whereas, I know nothing about Cape Town’s music scene.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you in the near future?
I’ll make a new album soon. It will be fun to do as long as I can afford a good studio, and have some good people round to help.