He won the very first season of The Voice South Africa and subsequently dropped his stellar debut album ‘Middle Ground’. Now, the star bares all as he gets raw, real and personal on his new EP ‘Naked’. The album’s lead single ‘Defeated’ has been well-received so far and this week, we chat to the star about the new album and his decision to release the project independently.
Congrats on your new EP. Tell us about the decision of naming the EP ‘Naked’.
Thank you so much! It was just based around the idea that this music is entirely me and I feel like I am exposing myself with the honesty of the music. It feels like my first “true” introduction to my listeners.
This is the first time we really get a sense of who you are as an artist because you wrote all four of the songs on the project. How important was it for you to be able to write your own material?
It is imperative for me. I think it just comes from a point of view of wanting to build a genuine, authentic relationship with the people that listen to my music. I want the songs that I perform to be messages directly from me to them. I think in this way we can grow together, I want my music to be a part of their lives and for it to grow with them through their lives.
You released this album independently. How different is releasing a project independently rather than releasing it through a record label?
Very different. You literally have to be in control of every single aspect of the music. From writing, to production, to finding studios, producers, musicians to play on the tracks, mixing engineers, online distributors, PR teams etc. But to be honest, I loved every single second of it. I learned a hell of a lot.
You picked ‘Defeated’ as the lead single off the project. What made this song the perfect introduction to this era?
It is the most radio-friendly record on the EP and we wanted it to be feel good out of the gates. At the end of the day I want to create music that lifts people up and makes them feel good. I felt that ‘Defeated’ was easy listening and embodied that ethos without getting too deep too quickly.
We hear a lot of Ed Sheeran in your music. Who are your musical influences?
I have listened to a hell of a lot of Ed Sheeran growing up and I suppose that comes through in the writing. We also wanted to, in the more produced tracks, get the balance between organic and electronic elements, something Ed Sheeran has been able to do well in his recent releases. I also love Bon Iver. Justin Vernon’s unapologetic authenticity and feel is something I really look up to. I guess I am just a sucker for depth of song-writing.
‘Whiskey Glass’ is a high point of the album. What inspired that particular track?
I had been going through a pretty tough time and this resulted in a lot of reflection and introspection. It’s about the journey on the path to clarity and realisation of what/who it is you not only want, but need in your life. I found balance.
You’re known for your incredible live performance. What, in your opinion, makes for a great live show.
Thank you so much! Interaction and engagement is everything. You’re there for the audience. Live performances are about taking people away from everything else that may be going on in their lives and creating a show that takes them to a place of immersion in the music. That can either be an external or internal thing. Some people go to another place when listening, a memory, an idea, a vision while others seem to soak up everything around them and be completely in the moment.
Now that the EP is out, what do the next few months have in store for you?
Shows, tours, travel and writing and recording the follow up EP to ‘Naked’. I am just going to continue pushing to reach and connect with as many people as possible, be it through live performances or through the digital world.