Bacchus Nel Biography
Once upon a catastrophic day
a small Volkswagen Beetle crossed paths with a truck and
made an end to Stephen Nel, a part-time insurance salesman
from Standerton, South Africa. From the twisted metal of the
wreckage something extraordinary sprang forth: the birth of
poet, singer and songwriter Bacchus Nel.
broken bones would heal in time, but Bacchus had to hear
that he will never see again. He was 21 and would be blind
forever. To find a release from his raw emotions he started
playing guitar and soon produced a special kind of magic
with words and song. He found a well of creativity and
talent that was hidden in Stephen Nel. This talent was
eventually spotted by Piet Botha and Lanie
van der Walt, who assisted him in completing his popular
debut album: "In die Arms van die Nag"(In the Arms
of the Night).
admits that he was a rebel and a bit of a troublemaker at school. In
those days, he says, it was not cool to be Afrikaans and Afrikaans music
was not very popular. "We were dark children."
Stephen was a Pixies-man. After school he worked on a
kibbutz for a while and also tried surviving in London (with
not much success). He then returned to Standerton. A man
without any idea what to do with his life.
Today Bacchus Nel is a man with a vision. He can say with
confidence: "I do not want to do anything else. I want
to make music. I want to write good songs." The subjects
that he writes about, he says, are similar to his diary. "The
daily slog of existence.
Forbidden love. Lost love. The city and the rural areas.
Places with an interesting vibe."
He says that his songs are all alive in his head, together with
many incomplete ones. He draws a lot from his visual memory. "I
write what I have seen before. There are pleasant pictures
in my mind. I am able to visualize well when someone
explains a thing to me."
One of the main frustrations of being blind, is the
dependency on others to take him places, he says. But he has
no qualms that he is happy. At times he forgets that he is
blind. "It's not something that I think about. And then
one good day I would connect bang! against a cupboard, and
then I am swearing. But I swear otherwise, as well." He
talks fondly about his daily companion: "Changa is
incredibly cool. He does not slobber on people. I love him
dearly. And he doesn't really bark."
Bacchus has developed a different taste in music. He loves
music that touches the soul: Johnny Cash, Kris
Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed.
Afrikaans artists that inspire him, are people like Riku
Lätti, Brixton Moord en Roof Orkes and Gert Vlok Nel.
His own songs reflect it: rather bittersweet than
sentimental; subtle humor in the pain.
He is different. Perceptibly
different. And he experiences life from a unique viewpoint,
which is laid bare to the public through his songs.
from an interview with Marguerite Robinson,