acoustic guitar guy buttery interview perkolate online

March 2017. Interview by Marelise Jacobs. Cover: Guy Buttery - Courtesy of Warren Gibson and Guy Buttery. Photograph by Jacki Bruniquel.

As an internationally recognized musician, multi-instrumentalist Guy Buttery enjoys invitations to play sell-out performances all over the globe. The USA, UK, Australia, France, Brazil, and Italy have all welcomed him back year after year. Perkolate caught up with Guy ahead of his Cape Town tour to find out more about what lies behind his music.

Please tell me a little about where it all began?

Guy Buttery: I was about ten when I started playing guitar and immersed myself wholeheartedly into it in every possible way. I was a rather insular young guy and spent a lot of time with my music.

I was picked up by local bands around Durban and was a support act for lots of different groups, that just continued to grow and flourish into concerts around the country. It grew very organically, there was never any game plan behind it and I guess that's developed to where it is now.

“...Acoustic guitar has this shape-shifting personality...” - Guy Buttery

What makes you passionate about acoustic guitar?

Guy Buttery: What intrigued me was the cross-over effect that acoustic guitar had. If you think about it, not every genre but certainly in dozens of genres, acoustic guitar is often at the forefront.

Acoustic guitar has this shape-shifting personality and I was very curious in the spaces between genres, the cross-overs between for example Maskandi and Celtic music, what exists between that? I think that this sort of broad world music, non-traditional approach is something that pricked my ears up the most.

When you write a new composition, is there a story behind it?

Guy Buttery: There are many different stories within each piece and the story is like any other being told repeatedly in the fact that it is forever changing. To be totally honest I'm generally a little reluctant to reveal what the story is, not to close any doors but to offer the listener the idea that it is open to their interpretation.

That is one of the beautiful things about instrumental music. Another important thing is that I've had people come up to me at concerts and say how moved they were by a particular piece and what I like to reinforce is that I have almost nothing to do with that experience. The piece of music is very much interpreted by them, and the reason why they would have a big emotional response is because they allowed themselves to go there, they opened up and were vulnerable.

You have a very unique guitar, please tell me a little about it?

Guy Buttery: It's very much a specific guitar built for me by two wonderful builders based in Cape Town. They came to visit me in Durban and took measurements of my other instruments which I was keen to make a mash-up of.

I was just totally floored when that instrument landed because it's unlike anything else I've ever played. The new album is entirely recorded with that instrument. We've become very good friends, me and that guitar.