Internationally acclaimed, sought-after South African photographer, Xavier Saer is a man of many talents who rediscovered his passion for music during the first lockdown. This passion resulted in two radio single releases which got him noticed and signed to Tiësto’s record label, “Black Hole Recordings”, one of the world’s leading Dance Music Labels.
Most people know him as a photographer (having one of the most impressive celebrity catalogues in South Africa) however, not many people know that Xavier is a club DJ: he has two SAMA Best Pop Album nominations under his belt for the songwriting he did for two artists’ albums, he has four of his own albums to his name and has written over 2000 songs. I told you guys, this is a man of many of talents.
“By Xavier” is an inspiring story to come out of lockdown and also speaks to people’s ability to reinvent themselves, hone in on previous passions, and give in to creativity to see where it takes you. I spoke to him a couple of months back and this is what he had to say;
Who is Xavier Saer? Tell us your story.
I’ve been exploring life at its fullest for many years, I think that is what life is about, venturing different journeys and learning about myself via research and practice. I think exploring and being curious makes life a lot more fun and interesting. However, I’m an economist by trade. I studies, received two degrees, to make my parents happy, and then left home to focus on my true journey by traveling the world. I worked as a nightclub DJ back on those days, at two legendary Jozi nightspots as resident DJ, Vertigo’s and Catch 21. This also helped me pay for my studies and save money for my future travels. I settled back in South America where I pursued a career as a recording artist. I returned to South Africa and was signed to Creative Kingdom Records, with the likes of Loyiso Bala, with whom I toured the country. After a string of radio songs and tours, I felt I needed a new challenge, and I left everything to live like a monk in an ashram, where I wrote my first novel “Bleeding Heart.” After being published internationally, life caught up to me camera in hand, and I’ve been enjoying a photographic journey for 6 years now. During lockdown, I went back to music and songwriting and I got signed by Tiesto’s label. Life is so unpredictable and I’m just enjoying this wild ride.
At what point in lockdown did you realise that you wanted to make music again?
In a way, you don’t choose music, music chooses you. I have a very busy photographic career, so I haven’t had time to do anything but to hone my skills and I’m one of those people that likes to focus on things 100% so if it’s photography, it’s nothing else and if it’s music, it’s nothing else but music. Now I’m trying to balance it all, but music has always been my first love and you never forget about your first love. I’m really enjoying this process, it’s a really beautiful creative journey.
What do you love the most about creating music?
It’s a feeling for me… I don’t have to think about it, almost like breathing, creating music is the most natural process because I’ve been doing it for such a long time. I don’t sit down and say, “I want to write a song today,” I just get in a creative mood, almost as if I’m calling the Gods of song to come to me, it is a supernatural experience. The unpredictability of music fascinates me, because I never know what’s going to come out, as if your mind connects to some other world and you just wait and see what this world throws at you. Once you get these free flow of ideas, I polish them, and make them into songs.
Why did you choose to go under the name “by Xavier” for your music?
I felt my brand as a photographer was strong enough for me to use it on my music career, and since the same person is doing both things, why not?
Tell us about your new single “beat is strong”
“Beat Is Strong” is a metaphor for life, the relationships of music and being alive, the struggles we endure in order for us to make our beat or “life” strong and whole again. It’s a song about not giving up, about pursuing your dreams and purpose and the video show this: the struggle of a mechanic who dreams of being a DJ at night and how hard he works for this to become reality. Please check the video on Youtube here
You have done so many things and you have been so many things, what would you say your biggest achievement in life is?
I think being alive is an achievement on its own, to be happy and healthy and grateful in times like these is already an achievement, but writing my novel was special. The amount of time, effort, research time, traveling and endless days and nights in front of a computer screen, writing and rewriting those 250 pages is an incredible achievement. But penning so many songs and creating beautiful and timeless images is also up there with writing the novel. These are all my legacy, and that’s why I spent so many years creating, so that my footprint in the world stays and influences people positive for a long time
what is the one quote that you try and live by?
It’s a quote by Helen Keller, “Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
That’s how I design my life: making it interesting, exciting, and always fresh. I know this sounds far-fetched, but it is possible. Even if you do something small every week, by the end of the year you would have achieved something bigger… celebrate the small steps, the daily and weekly steps, and these will create an inspiring journey.
You’re also an avid traveler, where is your favorite place to go in the world, and why?
I love Mexico, the most incredible food, culture, and people. South America is joyful and exciting. I have a deep love for India, I’ve been there 4-5 times. Every place in Europe is different and so rich in the culture you can’t pick one, and I’m in love with our country: our people are exceptional and we have so much here that you could travel nonstop and not know everything we offer. My advice to you is to travel, travel, travel, travel. You always come back a better person.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt from your travels?
That humans are all the same, everywhere. We laugh the same, we want the same things, we enjoy good company and food and our hearts yearn for the good in life. We all want peace, and safety and a better world for our kids. When you look into someone’s eyes anywhere on earth, you feel the same. And if you find that, every place becomes magic.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I don’t think or worry about the future. There’s no point. I live for today and whatever I do today will determine my future. So I focus on doing the things I love with passion and discipline. As long as I keep doing what I love, the future is irrelevant. Flow like water!
Listen to his single here;