Imagine there were only two roads in the music industry. You have the easy road: instant fame and lots of money, with the promise of fading into obscurity just as fast.
Then there’s the road less travelled, the hard road that includes endless touring and recording, and constant travelling away from friends or family while taking your music to as anyone who will listen.
I imagine folk-rock musician Farryl Purkiss to be on this second road. More than five years in, and the SAMA-winning singer is still a strong contender for one of the hardest working local musicians. So it’s no wonder that when I caught up with him, he was on his way to the United States for yet another tour with stops in Los Angeles, New York City before heading to the UK.
“We’ve been chatting about this mission for a while so I’m really looking forward it and this will be the longest time I’ve been away from home ever,” he says.
“Lucky enough this is my second trip to the ‘States and last time I was part of a music expo. We played at incredible venues like The House of Blues, one of my all time favourite venues, and it went really well and we got invited back.”
There’s hardly a time where you don’t see Purkiss on the line-up of a local festival, so it was about time the US and UK got the full experience of his acoustic fire and smooth vocals. After all, his songs have been a hit on TV shows like ‘Private Practice’.
“People are always curious especially with an unknown act in a foreign country,” he explains. “Most of the time when you’re travelling abroad, people don’t know who are and that’s part of the reason they want to see you.
“When I first started travelling overseas, people are far more respectful when it comes to musicians playing. Not to be rude about South Africans but when I first started playing, I was doing really chilled acoustic shows and I found overseas crowds super accommodating,” says Purkiss.
And, contrary to popular belief, the singer admits that even with a SAMA, two successful albums, and constant gigging, it’s still difficult making a living as a musician.
“I’ve been travelling overseas for a couple of years now and when we first started travelling overseas people instantly thought I had ‘made it’. And when you travel to a foreign country to break into that market you literally have to start from scratch. No one’s heard of you and you have to start again,” he says.
“Then there’s a lot of money spent on air tickets and things like that. I’ve been doing this for about four or five years and it’s only now that I’m breaking even, so it’s still not like you’re going there and making lots of money – even though there are some exceptions” he laughs.
While Purkiss is still promoting his second album, ‘Fruitbats & Crows’, he’s keen to pick up an electric guitar and start experimenting with new sounds for his next offering. But for now he’s focused on the journey ahead and rubbing shoulders with some of his musical heroes.
“I’m a lot more relaxed now and look around and notice that I’m surrounded by a lot of people I used to listen to and they’re all so cool and have families, wives are chasing their kids around, and none of stuff you’d imagine backstage,” he reveals. “I’m married now and this will be the first trip I’ll be doing with my wife.”