Official Website - Bacchus Nel
Bacchus Nel - Official Website


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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.

Bacchus Nel with ChangaThe 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).

Bacchus 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, Rapport(06/08/2005)


Official Website - Bacchus Nel