Acoustic Element may have been born 2010, but the bond between band members Jody Abel and Callen Petersen started years before.
Many don’t know that Acoustic Element band members Jody Abel and Callen Petersen are first cousins (photo above). While they spent a lot of time together at family functions, their friendship truly blossomed through music.
Callen explains: “We’re a big family and it’s always great when the entire group gets together. We recently spent time with family members from Australia, who we haven’t seen in a long time, so it was great explore Cape Town with them during the festive period.
“Jody and I weren’t always close when we were younger, but music played a big part when it came to us spending more time together. I remember we were at my house and we watched a Michael Jackson concert on DVD. We were both amazed by what we saw. Little did we know that we’d one day perform on stage together.”
Fast forward a few years to 2010. That’s when Jody and Callen discovered their musical talents as a duo. On Christmas day that year (photo above), Jody received a new acoustic guitar and Callen was gifted a new violin. Full of excitement, the two went up to the roof of the house and started playing a few Christmas songs.
They surprised themselves!
Jody explains: “We were pretty good. We were excited by how good our music sounded together. So we decided to go down and play a few songs for the family and friends. When a neighbour tipped us with a R50, that’s when we knew we were on to something special. That’s when Acoustic Element was born.”
A few months later, Acoustic Element started performing at family functions, malls, small concerts, fundraisers and church ceremonies. The image above was captured at their first formal performance at the New Apostolic Church in Parow.
Callen says: “We are church boys, so it was no surprise to play our first formal performance to the congregation. Looking back, everything was very amateur…”
Jody interjects: “Just look at the microphone in front of Callen. We had to use sellotape to keep everything in one piece [laughs]! We also carried around this small speaker to every gig. Those were the good old days!”
Callen adds: “Definitely the good old days. We had to improvise and make use of what we had back then, but we had to start somewhere. We’ve experienced some funny and amazing moments along the way. And by looking how far we’ve come, it motivates us to continue pushing the boundaries.”
The group reveals that Jody is the old soul among the two, while Callen always encourages the band to play new music. Some of the first commercial hits they played together was Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon and the Fugee’s Killing Me Softly. Today, they play everything from Goldfish to Goodluck to The Weekend.
Callen explains: “Jody always wanted to stick to the old songs, but I persuaded him to learn new music. We weren’t sure what to expect when we played our versions of the latest tracks on radio, but every audience we played to loved it. We knew then we were on the right track.”
Acoustic Element are currently enjoying their sixth year as a musical act and a second calendar year as independent artists. The two acoustic stars have celebrated many highlights and learned so much along the way, but they stress that there’s much more to come.
Callen says: “We’re living a childhood dream. Jody and I never thought we’d come this far… especially when you consider how difficult the music industry is in Cape Town. We were once told that we would never be able to afford a living off music, but hopefully we have proven that hard work opens all doors.”
Jody adds: “And this is only the beginning! We have exciting news to announce in the coming weeks, including developments that will take Acoustic Element to new heights. We are working on a new sound too, which we are very excited about. We also plan to open the door for other acoustic musicians in the industry.”
There’s definitely more to come from this Acoustic Element story…