By BRUCE DENNILL
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
It was definitely the Eighties and the band was Def Leppard, without a doubt. Although they are much older now, they were one of the early influences that got me into music.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
I will always be a fan of that material, however music changes over the years. You have to adapt and move with the trends and keep up with the times yet still be original and authentic in your music. Currently I listen to anything that sounds good to me.
Name one song you wish you’d written. What makes that song so important?
Right now, it’s Post Malone’s Circles – great song, killer hook and powerful lyrical content.
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?
I think it is the combination of all of the above, to be honest. One can’t work without the other, so they all have to deliver. Instrumentation and vocal delivery will give a feel and the lyrics will complete the message. The hook has to be catchy for people to latch onto the song.
The music industry is no longer a single-narrative operation. For you, what is the best way to get your music from your head to potential listeners? Please comment on digital means (from social media to full streaming and download distribution), playing live (how often; where; to whom), being a cottage industry (eg selling CDs from a box in your car) and any other creative channels you’ve explored.
Downloads are falling out and we are moving into the streaming part of industry. So, as musicians we should try to get onto top playlists. Radio is still relevant as it helps with exposure, but only for a time. The online stations are taking over. Artists need to create a buzz themselves and create events and campaigns. Being in South Africa, performing more doesn’t necessary mean you will pick up followers or potential listeners. Your brand, product, music and live shows need to be of a standard that people want to see you live. Unfortunately a lot of this requires budget and up and coming artists need to put money in their own brand before anyone else does. Physical copies still sell to a certain degree, but not like it was 10 years ago, as online stores have taken over. However, everything changes and artists need to move with the times.
In terms of the above, is there a gap between what you envisioned and what you are experiencing now? Does it matter, and if so, how do you close that gap?
Closing the gap is so hard, but the industry is difficult and I have had to stay focused and positive, continuously still researching and changing my strategy. I am always surprised at how rapidly the industry changes all the time. In saying that, what I envisioned and am experiencing changes continuously, but the passion to push on has not stopped.
What is your most recent release? What is the story behind it – the genesis of the song, the people involved, the muse behind its creation?
My new album, Here I Am, took about a year and a half to complete. For the tracks on the album titled Can’t Deny It, Mine and The Letter, I brought in a great songwriter named Khanyisile Zondo, who helped write the tracks and give a different flavour to the sound. Mark Beling and I completed the rest of the tracks and the theme of the album is about love, regret and every person being a soldier to push through the difficult times.