By Michelle, age 17, South Africa
The Sick-Leaves is a one man rock band headed up by Eksteen Jacobsz. He grew up in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, and after completing a degree in Investment Banking he headed to London to pursue his musical aspirations.
Jacobsz formed the solo project The Sick-Leaves in 2005 after his return from the UK where he had been a part of a band called The Infidels.
The Sick-Leaves' debut album Tunnel Vision was produced by Matthew Fink and released through Sheer Music. In 2007, it was nominated for a SAMA (South African Music Award) for "Best Alternative Album." The tracks on the album were received well; four singles reached Top Ten status at a number of campus radio stations. "All These Foolish Things (I've Said)" and "Such A Waster" received much airplay on 5FM and a number 11 position on their Top 40 charts. In addition to all that success, Tunnel Vision was also nominated as Best Album in South African skateboarding magazine Blunt's yearly awards in 2006.
The Sick-Leaves' second album, Stone The Crow, which was released in July 2008, saw them achieving even more success, with numerous number one positions and chart listings. A video for "The Black Disciples" was released also, and may be viewed on YouTube.
Early March 2010 welcomed the release of their third album, Last Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The Sick-Leaves worked on a cover of "Missing", by Everything but the Girl, which was released with a black and white music video that saw airplay on many of the major broadcasting channels. The single was a way to extend the coverage of The Sick-Leaves brand and music, and reached number one on regional radio station's Highveld Stereo and KFM's local top ten chart, "The Homebrew Top Ten".
"All These Foolish Things (I've Said)" had an accompanying music video which was completely animated. In 2010 it was nominated for a "Best Animated Music Video SFX" MK music award. Two SAMA nominations for Best Alternative Album were garnered, as well as another nomination by Blunt Magazine in their awards held in 2007.
I interviewed the man behind the band, Eksteen Jacobsz, to find out more about The Sick-Leaves' success.
The Sick-Leaves is actually a one man band - would you ever decide to merge with others to form a numbered band, or are you happy to be a solo act?
Obviously, if I find the right people who have the same things in mind musically as I do and we are fully compatible as human beings, then I would consider it, [but] for now I'm quite happy with the way things are - it's much less complicated.
What is the story behind the unique name and the creative process put into creating the album, Last Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy?
I got the name from a book I read, Higher than the Eagle Soars, by Stephen Venables. I liked the ring of it and the imagery it created. There was no influence from The Nutcracker. Emotionally I was in a different universe from the previous two albums, so I can give that a big credit for the album sounding different from the first two - I had a different producer and drummer on board, which also contributed [a lot] to the new sound.
How is Last Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy different from the previous albums?
Theme-wise it deals with much more than just relationships. The mood is also much more positive. Sonically I did cut out everything that was not absolutely necessary. It's also an album where my experience shows with regard to recording and having been around the block so to speak with the music industry. It felt like I had a license to go into studio and record just what I felt like and not be constrained by critics' opinions or the fans' expectations.
Was it challenging to release a new album after having the last two nominated for SAMAs - what with high expectations and expected criteria?
I felt that sort of pressure more with the second album. The first album was such a huge step and accomplishment for me that I did think for a while, "How on earth am I going to top this?" but then you get stuck in there and before you know it there are 20 songs ready to be recorded again. What also helped with the new album [was] that I had a very clear idea right from the beginning as to what I wanted to do and how I wanted the album to sound.
"All These Foolish Things (I've Said)" is a favourite song of mine and it was nominated for an MK award this year. What made you choose to have an animated video and why?
I did my first video for "Missing" in black and white and wanted something totally the opposite that was fun and interesting to look at. The idea of animation somehow came up and [then] it was just a case of finding the right person to do it. The added bonus is that you don't need cameras, locations, crew or extras, so it's a big advantage if you want to cut costs.
How would the sound of The Sick Leaves be described?
This is a weird question because the way I perceive the sound might be totally different for someone else; pretty much the same as with how you see yourself and how other people perceive you to be. When I started, I wanted the biggest, meanest wall-of-sound sort of thing, but it has changed over the years. I still love epic anthem-like songs, but with much more dynamics. A good guitar tone is what I live for, so I guess it would be safe to say The Sick-Leaves has a guitar-driven/alternative rock sound.
I love your connection with Springleap. How did you become a brand ambassador for them?
My manager is a massive fan of Springleap. She suggested we put The Sick-Leaves forward to be brand ambassadors. They liked The Sick-Leaves, we liked them, and then it was a done deal. They are absolutely amazing and it has been fantastic to be associated with them. It is great to wear clothes that are quite unique in the sense that it is not seen on every Tom, Dick, and Harry. At the same time, Springleap gets exposure whenever I do interviews and shows.
What are your plans for the future?
At the moment I'm studying again, so things are a little slow on the live front, but I am busy writing new songs for an EP I want to record early next year. It will only be available digitally, and the inspiration for it is music for films. It won't be sent out for any reviews nor will it be sent to radio for play listing.
Have you had any crazy fan moments?
The Sick-Leaves' fans are in general quite cool. Nothing crazy to report on that front.
What are 3 things fans do not know about you?
I'm ambidextrous. I'm a huge sports fan (playing and watching). I played provincial tennis and cricket at school. And I like all animals, apart from snakes.
A message to your fans?
Do what you love and do it well. The rest will fall into place.