Rudi Claase was born on 11 January 1983 and grew up in Vereeniging in South Africa with his parents and sister. He found that everything in Vereeniging was “taboo” and feels blessed to have known at a young age that music was going to be his forte.
He started playing piano by ear at the age of four. He says his family had two contrasting sides – one being extremely musical and the other, tone deaf which caused a friendly tug-of-war between the musical potential and lack thereof.
At the age of 13 his family moved to Vanderbijlpark, where he attended and matriculated at Transvalia High School. He always considered himself to be the “class clown” and was not very stimulated by the resources at hand. He had a wonderful music teacher, who was his escapology and if it wasn’t for her “hiding” him in her classroom and making excuses for him when he didn’t want to attend other classes, it would’ve hindered him from liberating himself from society and being the person that he is today.
He plays solely by ear and puts it down to being ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and impatient. In saying this, he feels that “God’s gift was big enough to enable me to do what I needed to do and understand music in the way that it came from Heaven and not from something that physicality could’ve presented to me.”
He was blessed to be able to enter competitions and start performing at a young age and then went straight into the music industry, part-time at school and full time after school.
He suffers from bipolar and that combined with being ADHD has its own problems. For Rudi, being creative of nature he manages his medication so that it doesn’t inhibit his creativity. Being bipolar means that some days he wakes up and there is no “colour” – it’s dark and grey. On bad days, he chooses to acknowledge the disorder and work through it. Knowing that there is a word, a sentence or a song helps him to snap out of it. On the other hand, he embraces the fact that he has ADHD as he jumps around continuously from one idea to another. He’s disciplined enough to know that if something is really good, he is able to indulge in it and live in it until it’s finished.
For Rudi it’s a consequence of his profession. He acknowledges people who recognise him in public as they are the fans that have and continue to support him in his career. He defines a “star” as “an unattainable something, intangible to the masses, yet when they see you they want you so you have to be really cautious about where you spend your time. Be careful of putting yourself in places that don’t serve your consciousness, so don’t go to some crazy bar and get drunk because you will be in the papers.” As he is a very social person he is also mindful and respects his fans and tries to be the “star” that they want him to be. “One has to remember that there is a fine line between where you have to be and where you choose to be.”
The media aspect is an interesting topic. He feels that media scandals are always part of the profession. Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech. He tries not to judge it but instead looks past it. To quote one of Maya Angelou’s profound statements, “If it’s not of you, it cannot be you”. If he see his name on a headline or hears that it’s mentioned in a magazine or newspaper and knows that the article has no relevance to him, he will distantiate himself from it and not read it but at the same time, he feels that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Your name’s out there and it’s not only your responsibility to counteract it, but to prove the media wrong.
Even though he was already known in the music circles, he became a household name when he collaborated with Corlea Botha on “Ons Lieflinge / Our Darlings”. They sang together between 2009 – 2012 and during that time were the top selling artists in South Africa and internationally for three years running.
After their split, Zita Pretorius joined him and despite their album going double platinum, it was a mutual decision to part ways amicably.
He has also written songs for the likes of Juanita Du Plessis, Theuns Jordaan, Kurt Darren, Bobby Van Jaarsveld, Nadine, Arno Jordaan and several others. The song “Tussen woorde” that Juanita Du Plessis requested him to write for her “came” to him whilst in the cable car at the Pretoria Zoo.
He finds that he does his best work at night. For Rudi the evening whispers are different than those in the day. He feels that the sun doesn’t confront you with the awareness of what’s around you. “At night it’s physically dark so the soul has the opportunity to be darker and when it flickers there’s lightness around so the light of the soul bounces around it and presents that opportunity to me.”