Words / Photographs / Joanne Olivier
Interview: Caroline Hillary
Video: Kirsten Siebert

You won’t find Julian Redpath on the Top 40 Charts. You won’t find him in alternative or even the mainstream folk section. You might find him in a tiny section of the South African Itunes Store categorized between Bon Iver, Nick Drake and African Violin concertos Vol.3.

Julian agrees to meet us in his apartment, an old school Killarney flat with pools of sunlight beaming in through white windows. Large empty wooden floors, floral couches he inherited from his mom, an antiquated amp a friend donated to him, a cool as hell retro organ and a very well positioned record player. This house is a space for music – for open silent days and the creation of song.

Julian is a 30-year-old South African folk musician who has recently been getting a small cultish following of fans with a great appreciation of music. His brand new full album ‘Maiden Light’ is an 11 song strong journey of loss, love, journeys and is best listened to with headphones, rainy skies and a deep concentration. The album’s opening track ‘Nightingale’ is a haunting piece of musical magic, made all the more intense by Julian’s gentle and yet piercing vocals. This is music you need to pay attention to, or it will go amiss.

Recorded on a farm in Dullstroom, and later brought to life with the inclusion of Cello by Clare Vandeleur Piano by Chris Letcher and other guest artists, and produced by Julian and the very talented Guy Buttery, Maiden Light is an album unlike any other SA folk album we have heard. The haunting ‘Ballad Of A Good Man’ is a song and memory about the passing of Julian’s dad, to whom the album is dedicated.

“When we stand around in circles, and we talk around them too but our words are just a grain of sand on an endless beach thats you. You were more than just a good man.”

It’s in this song that you come to realize the extent and depth of Julian’s lyrics and songwriting. Intensely heartbreaking and yet uplifting as the strings enter end song and the sun bursts through the curtainless windows.

It’s a far cry from fear, how I feel when you appear inside the spaces of my mind, where the emptiness is real, and the pain that is pressed upon my chest most of the time, where every movement made is a slow faded grey procession through the sky…”

‘Maiden Light’ is an album that will travel far and wide, through continents and time, finding and touching people in the way music is supposed to touch.