Born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, singer-songwriter and guitarist, Abri Van Straten, molds words and music to create a calming and serene facade he intercedes to invoke. Previously with the South African rock group The Lemmings, Abri toured nationally with them. Abri is married to Kristin Bauer, known for her character portrayal of Pam on HBO’s hit show,True Blood. I had the great opportunity to chat with Abri about his passion for music, his love for animals, True Blood, future recordings, and much more! To learn more about his beginning with music, what influences him, and other morsels please visit his website. You can also stream his songs frim his current album, Sunlight and Shadows, at the conclusion of the interview below!
1. What, besides your familial history, do you attribute with your love of music and it’s success?
One word: Aesthetics. It is an interesting animal (aesthetics means beauty in all it’s forms). The wavelength of beauty is the smallest, measurable wavelength in the universe and therefore, the most powerful. When I was a kid, music had a very strong effect on me. I never had to take drugs or anything of that nature; music gave me a high. Beauty is a world-changer. Aesthetics is why we do what we do without realizing it. It’s very fundamental to all of existence.
2. You are very dedicated as an animal activist as well (which is something I highly commend and value). Your song “Voices” was written about the illegal practices of whaling, although it’s a universal song. Please explain how near and dear this cause is to you.
I’m African and my family grew up in Kenya (in East Africa). My grandfather was a professor of physiology, and spent many years with animals, and would doctor them when they were sick. He had a chimpanzee, elephant, among other animals. Humans are not isolated, as we are part of a whole and must therefore take responsibility for all living things.
3. Has your fan-base grown due to the popularity of being Kristin Bauer’s (Pam on True Blood) husband? Do you feel the grassroots methods are still the best and most organic?
I like to think and hope that I’ve made some new friends. It’s nice to make new friends, even if they have fangs ;)
We live in an interesting time. When I was growing up the music industry was hard because there was no internet. Now, the internet has made communication much easier. It is an open playing field. All art forms stem from a basic desire to communicate. If you want to communicate , you’ll find a way to do it! At the end of the day it’s your own decisions that remain the cause point of your endeavors. The individual musician has to search for himself how far he/she wants to reach. Decide, and don’t look at the recording industry to make the decisions for you. The universe often helps you in interesting ways once you do make a decision.Weird coincidences found me where I am. When The Lemmings were done touring, I had no desire to stay in L.A., and should have gone back home, but I had a feeling that I should stay and luckily I did…I met my wife!
4. Speaking of your wife, would you like your music to be featured on True Blood?
I don’t think my music is True Blood. It’s too sweet and nice…Lol True Blood is a bit more edgy; would be cool, but haven’t gone down that avenue.
5. Any plans on future recordings?
I’m busy with it now. I have two albums of material written that I plan to record, and am starting to do that now. I’m excited to get it out there to people.
1. What are five albums you can’t live without?
1. Police- Synchronicity (great record)
2. Dave Matthews Band- Under The Table and Dreaming; Last time I saw Dave when I was 14, and he was 17. I’ve known Dave since we were kids.
3. Bob Dylan- Infidels
4. Dire Straights- Money for Nothing
5. Whitesnake- Whitesnake (1987)
2. What was your first album on CD and/or vinyl?
John Denver- Rocky Mountain High, when I was about 7 years old.
3. What was your first concert? Have a favorite?
Foreigner (big band)- didn’t see until I was 24 or 25. I lived in Africa and for political reasons bands didn’t tour there so I had to wait many years. I had grown up with the posters and stuff on TV, you know of these American bands, and subconsciously I expected to see these 9 foot tall people coming on stage. It was kind of surreal to realize they were just “normal” size people like you and I. Wonderful show though!
4. Do you have a guilty musical pleasure?
Def Leppard- I love them!
Their album, Hysteria, is the one I crank up loud and listen and sing every song to.
To purchase Abri’s current album, Sunlight and Shadows, and to receive an autographed photograph of Kristin Bauer, please visit their Amazon store. While there, you can also purchase his CD with his former band, The Lemmings.
My personal favorite songs of his are, “Monet,” and “Count The Stars,” which you can stream by clicking on the link below for your listening pleasure. Let his music take you to a far-away place only you can call your own!
Monet by Abri Van Straten
Count The Stars by The Lemmings
Abri on Facebook
Abri on MySpace