I Am UWC: Chemistry student Simon van Harte is burning up the music scene
It’s not just the way he drops that bass - he composes music for his band as well. University of the Western Cape Chemical Sciences student, Simon van Harte, reached his “ultimate goal” when one of his songs - So Much Fun - was aired on Heart FM this month.
Simon, who is studying towards a BSc Chemical Science degree, is the bass guitarist for the UWC Jazz Ensemble, and a member of one of Cape Town’s most popular boy bands, The Pedestrians - which he calls his “circle of friends”.
“[So Much Fun] is the band’s very first original work, and I’m happy to have made the first contribution,” says the 23-year-old who has managed to balance his studies and his music perfectly.
“All I want right now is for the entire campus community to get behind me and vote for my song, bombarding the radio station with WhatsApp requests. This will guarantee that the song will be heard more frequently,” says Simon.
On stage he easily transitions from serious musician - at formal events when performing in the UWC Jazz Band - to pulling off crazy rockstar guitar moves on the floor while on stage with The Pedestrians.
Simon lives in the Cape Town suburb of Woodstock and has been playing music since the age of six. He started with the piano and guitar and later the bass guitar, while attending Bergvliet High School.
“I’m really happy The Pedestrians reached this point - putting out more original content and producing more songs for radio, while exploring the opportunities for youth within the music industry,” he says.
“We’ve tested So Much Fun on live audiences prior to its release, and they responded really positively to the song, so our hope is that it will do really well.
The song is about the “beauty of a girl”, and he drew on some personal romantic experiences.
“So Much Fun is an upbeat mixture of R&B and pop, and it reminds you of the kind of songs by Bruno Mars,” says Simon.
The youngster admits that the business side of the music industry is tough, and he’s often had to fork out considerable amounts of money to keep his dream alive.
“New legislation requiring SA radio stations to play more local music content has made things a lot better. It opened up more opportunities for local musicians to have their music heard on the airwaves,” he says.
So Much Fun came about by chance when The Pedestrians band leader, Bradley Prince, was “jamming one afternoon”. He composed the chorus, and Simon took it from there. The rest of the band - Bradley Prince, Matthew Fisher, Keanu Harker and Barry Box - then chipped in to create the final product.
The band, which was formed in 2013, was awarded the title of Best Band at the 2015 Suidoosterfees Talent Search.
“Our success continued In 2016 when we produced and performed the music for the Suidoosterfees production, VIVA D6 Queens, a musical which was part of the 50th anniversary commemoration of the forced removals from District Six.”
This opportunity earned them the chance to work alongside prominent Afrikaans actress and director Quanita Adams, as well as seasoned television and stage actor Ivan Abrahams. In the same year, they won the 2016 Battle of the Bands at the V&A Waterfront.
“We’re proud to have played stages such as The Jazzathon at the V&A Waterfront, the Artscape Theatre as part of the Boogie-Licious show in 2017, the Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg, and most recently, the Bay Market and the Suidoosterfees again in May.”
“We’ve really been wanting to perform our own music for so long,” the young scientist/musician says. “The time is ripe right now for young artists such as ourselves to start writing more original content as part of our repertoire.”
- Vote to get So Much Fun more air time by sending a message to Heart FM’s WhatsApp line on 082 222 1049.