Francois Van Coke will rock The Showroom on 28 March at 8pm. Book Seats Here
Francois Badenhorst (born in Bellville, Western Cape, South Africa), better known by his stage name Francois Van Coke, is the lead vocalist, songwriter and founding member of the South African Alternate rock bands Fokofpolisiekar and Van Coke Kartel.
Van Coke has always had an affinity for music. In high school he participated in a battle of the bands competition where he performed the vocals for the band. He was later kicked out of the band, which put him off performing vocals for a while. Van Coke’s strong Christian upbringing (his father was a pastor) led him to create the Christian band AS180. Van Coke established himself in the Bellville underground music scene by forming the band “A Guy Called Gerald”, which later changed its name to “New World Inside”. He later gained country-wide notoriety when he founded the band Fokofpolisiekar in 2003. The band was initially started as a joke to shock the widely conservative Afrikaans community. Van Coke recalls that, “My mom cried for a day or two when she heard the name of the band”. After initial performances his father asked him to change his surname from “Badenhorst” to “Van Coke”, as his father, being a minister, was receiving complaints about his son’s performances from the local church-going community.
Interview with Francois van Coke
You took the reigns on SA music fronting bands such as Fokopolisiekar and Van Coke Kartel. Punk and rock genres with Afrikaans lyrics weren’t as common or familiar as they are now. What made you decide to adjust people’s mindsets when you started?
It was always a joke for us to start an Afrikaans band, because there was no Afrikaans rock or punk bands at the time. We came up the name Fokofpolisiekar and we knew we had to start a band. After writing lyrics in Afrikaans, we realised it was easy and honest to express ourselves in our mother tongue. First and foremost, we just wanted to make music for us and our friends, luckily people related to it in a big way.
Your gig guide has numerous dates across the country throughout the year. How do balance your home life, your career and constant touring and playing?
Making music is my career and also one of the reasons I get up in the morning. But, in this age it is necessary to play shows to make a living. I have to spend time on the road, but also love to come home to my wife. We just had a baby daughter and I guess it is going to get even harder being away from home now. Quality time with my love ones is very important, when I am at home.
Since you began as a musician, I can imagine it’s been collective or shared visions on where the band(s) will go and how they will approach making music. How have your processes changed since you began your solo career?
I also work with a team in my solo career, I have an amazing band that works with me on the music and songs. I have always worked in bands and I prefer working with people, rather than alone. I write all the lyrics and it is very personal, but have written like that for the bands I play in too. It is kind of the same, but my name is on the album cover. So, I also have to face all the criticism.
Tell us about your new album?
It is 11 songs that are very close to my heart, I worked with my dream team. Die Gevaar, my band, played on all the songs and the album was produced by Johnny de Ridder and Rudolph Willemse. It is modern, but you can also hear all the my old school influences. I think it is going to be a great listen.
Francois Van Coke has become a brand in itself. What steps did you take to make that happen?
I think I made a solo album. I never thought I was going to make a solo album, but circumstances forced me to do so. I am very happy to do it this way for now. I am always going to be Francois van Coke and I am not depending on other people’s choices.
You must have a great team behind you in terms of a record label, booking manager and publicity. Do you think they have assisted with your vision in making music into a viable career? What about those starting out and don’t have the budget. What do you recommend to get their music out there?
I have a great team. Wynand Myburgh is my manager and best friend. We also play together in Fokofpolisiekar and Van Coke Kartel. He also managed those projects. Me and him are the label for the next release and we also have a great team working on publicity and bookings. Yes, they have all contributed towards me being able to do this as a career. Bands that start out should practice everyday, because they have to be a good live act. Play with people they get along with and try and find/steal/beg/borrow money to record a decent product. People need to be able to hear your songs
You’ve collaborated with some of SA’s pioneers, such as Karen Zoid and Arno Carstens. Tell us about the chemistry you have with these artists.
I have worked with some of my favourite artists in SA. They are mostly close friends and we just want to make music together. Arno was my hero growing up, so it is always fun to hang with him. Me and Karen have a special relationship because of “Toe Vind Ek Jou”. It was amazing to see how many people related to a song that we worked on.