Real

Loyiso

As a teenager Loyiso Bala was trained at the prestigious Drakensburg Boys Choir in South Africa. He finished top of his class and nurtured his classical voice.

After overwhelming success with legendary Kwaito act TKZee in 2000, Loyiso decided to release his own singles ‘Musukukhala’ and ‘Silky Soft Skin’ in 2001. The singles laid the foundation for Loyiso’s solo career and he went on to release his first album “Wine Woman and Song” in 2003 and his second album ‘Amplified’ in 2005. These albums solidified Loyiso’s reputation as South Africa’s king of R&B, with singles such as ‘Girl Without A Name’, ‘Angel’, ‘Gimme The Night’, ‘Cappuccino’ and ‘Cuban’.

Since then, he has won multiple awards ranging from Best R&B album of 2007 at the Metro FM Awards, 5 SAMAs – South African Music Awards – 3 Metro FM awards, Best R&B and Best Producer at the SAMA awards 2008 and was nominated for best song of 2009 and 2010 at the SAMAs for ‘Blow Your Mind’ and ‘Maybe’ respectively. He was also nominated at the MTV awards alongside Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Akon and P Square and is known for his style awards for “YOU” Magazine and GQ’s most stylish male in the country.

At the end of 2002, Loyiso embarked on a world tour that saw him stopping off in London, America, Asia and the Middle East. Other highlight performances include several Miss South Africa Awards and Miss World appearances. He has performed alongside artists of the highest caliber including Jamelia, Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend, Brian McKnight, Elton John, Will Smith and Akon. He has also performed for some of the highest dignitaries, such as Nelson Mandela, Richard Branson, Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and more.

Loyiso is an ambassador for the 46664 campaigns, the Smile Foundation and most recently MaAfrika Tikkun, which sees him supporting several charitable and worthwhile causes such as coaching school plays and performing at charitable events. He also talks about HIV education in several schools across South Africa.

His partnership with 46664 lead him to put on a stellar performance for and audience of over 46,000 at the Nelson Mandela 46664 concert in Hyde Park in July 2008, to perform at the Madison Square Gardens, New York in July 2009 and at Radio City Hall, New York for Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday celebration on the 18th of July 2009.

Loyiso’s last album release showcased the singles ‘I want you’, ‘Blow Your Mind’ (the title track), ‘Take Me Back’, ‘Dali Wami’ and ‘Maybe’, which were simultaneously listed in the top 100 radio charts in South Africa in late 2008; a feat that rarely happens.

In May 2010 he released his new single ‘Wrong For You’, written by Robin Thicke and Sean Hurley and will be releasing his full-length album before the end of 2010. For this album he worked with producers both in the United States of America and South Africa.

He is now taking his most loved material to his fans and explains: “Live performances are where I am able to bring everything I love about music together on one great platform”.

One such performance was alongside Alicia Keys, Shakira, the Black Eyed Peas and John Legend at the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off celebration concert, taking place at Soweto’s 30,000-capacity Orlando Stadium on the 10th of June, a day before the opening match of the World Cup.

BOOK

Watershed

Watershed (n.): 1. Line of separation between waters flowing to different rivers or basins or seas. 2. (fig.) Turning-point e.g. in history. 3. (pop.) Catchment area. (f. water + shed ridge of high ground (cogn. w. SHED after German Wasserscheide) – or so says the New Edition of The Concise Oxford Dictionary.

In South Africa and Europe however, 'Watershed' is better defined as the band around songwriter and lead singer Craig Hinds – one of the most popular export products the Rainbow Nation has on offer.

Their latest album "Staring at the Ceiling" (translated into German: An die Decke starren - rather in the sense of contemplation than complacency) was released in August last year and has already reached Gold Status in South Africa. After Craig's return from a five week stint in America (including song writing collaboration in Nashville), Watershed will be on tour in the UK and on an extensive concert spree in Germany before the band returns to South African venues to consolidate their triumphant accomplishments on all levels, locally AND internationally.

The name of the band, 'Watershed', indeed refers more to the figurative meaning in the sense of turning point, in Craig Hinds' case a 'watershed' in his personal history. "We all come across turning points in our lives. They tend to come in the blink of an eye and can turn your life completely around. Negative or positive, you have to face them", rationalises Craig Hinds. The teacher-turned-musician/songwriter never considered music as a serious career choice. After his compulsory year in the Army, Craig studied teaching English and History for four years and worked two years as a high school teacher before he reached his personal turning point. "I had piano lessons as a youngster, but gave it up because I was bored of it", Craig confesses, "it only was during my time in the army that I picked up music again." Then, during his teaching years, Craig started playing music more and more, initially cover songs in restaurants and bars and, with growing confidence, "I threw in a few of my own compositions…" The reaction was overwhelming: requests for his music grew to such an extent that Craig had to decide which route to follow. "I guess I was always keen on the idea of bringing messages across in a positive way," muses the multi-talent, "as a teacher or as a musician. But I came to a point where I could not fit both under one hat anymore." He undertook to follow the musical direction.

A decision which 'propelled' him and Watershed into fame. Since their early beginnings in 1999, Watershed have delivered three previous albums ("In the Meantime" [2000], "Wrapped in Stone" [2003], "Mosaic" [2005]), of which one went Gold and two made Platinum. Each released single turned into a hit and dominated South African as well as European charts. Their single "Indigo Girl" was even recorded in Mandarin for the Chinese music scene.

It was "Indigo Girl", taken from their debut album "In the Meantime", that catapulted the band onto the radar of foreign territories right from the word go. A German radio disc jockey who heard the song whilst being on vacation in SA, was so enchanted by the ballad that he aired "Indigo Girl" on his German radio channel, SWR3, where it was play-listed due to popular demand. The song hit the Top Ten and the band visited Germany, where they performed at "Top of the Pops" and SWR3 New Pop Festival. "In the Meantime" was nominated for two South African Music Awards whilst Watershed was voted South Africa's Hottest Band by People Magazine for two years consecutive.

The extraordinary launch of "Wrapped in Stone" via a concert on Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg attracted more than 10 000 fans. The album received a much acclaimed SAMA, and Watershed an invitation to perform alongside the likes of Queen, Bono, Beyoncé, Annie Lennox and The Corrs at the Nelson Mandela 46664 Concert, held in Cape Town 2003.

For the production of "Mosaic", Watershed brought South African music guru J.B.Arthur, as well as Mark Hunter and Saul Davies (from the British rock group James) and songwriter/producer Ali Thomson on board. "Mosaic" won a SAMA and sold well beyond Platinum.

"Staring at the Ceiling" has effortlessly joined the success of its predecessors. So far, all three single releases from this fourth album, ("Breathing", "Train Ride" and "Future Sunshine"), went instantaneously Top Ten in the SA Airplay Charts. Plus: it earned Watershed an appearance in the music bible, the US magazine Rolling Stone, which refers to Watershed's sound as "feel-good, Mid-Western acoustic rock…"

Asked in how far "Staring at the Ceiling" differs from Watershed's previous albums, Craig analyses: "It has slightly more edge than the others. The first album was innocent, the second introverted and slightly darker in its lyrics. The third was harder, rawer and we started experimenting with sounds and producers. The lyrics were based on my personal thoughts on love, life and pretty much everything else, whereby 'Staring at the Ceiling' draws more on other peoples' lives, expectations, hopes and dreams and what could come from it. The track 'Jerry and Jenny', for example, tells the story of two people who are both experiencing a negative situation – the one tackles it, the other does not," elevates the songsmith. "But above all, we were fortunate to work with major talents in England. Their guidance was invaluable."

The 'major talent' Craig speaks of, includes next to tried-and-tested Mark Hunter, Saul Davies and Ali Thomson, the acclaimed British producer Eliot Kennedy, whose list of production credits range from Bryan Adams to Take That and the Spice Girls. The sonic touch of the UK based musical magicians is certainly present, but producers Eliot Kennedy and Ali Thomson have expanded rather than dictated the band's unique style.

There is a breathlessness that runs through the song "Breathing", "Train Ride" is an irrepressibly thought provoking song with a chugging, acoustic guitar driven rhythm, "Future Sunshine" brings back the charm of classic rock ballads and on "Jerry and Jenny" is the melodramatic character of the song masterly captured by using subtle piano, heavy guitar riffs and prevalent drums.

'Staring at the Ceiling' is most probably Watershed's finest album yet, another testimonial of their signature sound, piano-based rock of class and quality. It is a superbly composed amalgamation of organic sound, inimitable vocals, impeccable musicianship and Craig's gift for song crafting that creates the distinctive sound responsible for Watershed's instant success and fast growing recognition.

The next generation of dictionaries might want to include the additional entry 4. Watershed (etym.) popular South African piano-based rock band headed by lead singer and songsmith Craig Hinds.

Watershed is:

  • Craig Hinds – vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, harmonica
  • Nic Rush – lead guitar & vocals
  • Peter Auret – drums
  • James Sunney – bass & vocals
  • Hylton Brooker – keyboards

BOOK

Malaika

Malaika, “South Africa’s premium band”. Within their short musical careers in the volatile music industry, this dynamic trio had managed to achieve what a few people can in a life time of their careers. They have scooped over fifteen awards, ranging from the Metro FM Awards: Best Group and Best Afro Pop Act, SAMA Awards: Best Afro Pop, Kora Awards: Best Group Southern Africa 2004, 5 & 6, and Channel O: Song Of the year. They have also managed to out sell most of South African muzo’s in South Africa allowing them to scoop the best selling artist at the SAMA’s in 2004. Malaika uniquely combines their best vocals, creating vibrating, extra ordinary sounds.

BOOK

Prime Circle

Prime Circle

These days, describing records as world-class is commonplace – and, more often than not, it all turns out to be unwarranted hype. But to avoid using the term when talking about Prime Circle’s latest would do the 12-track album a real disservice.

The fact is that the five-piece’s ‘”Jekyll & Hyde” is easily as good as the top modern rock records impacting the Billboard or UK charts right now – and it’s no wonder that the group is looking to the album as the strongest chance Prime Circle has of breaking new territories (a process already started early this year with a series of dates in India).

Given the creative work done by Bellville (Cape Town) based Producer Theo Crous, LA based Mix Engineer, Kevin “The Cave Man” Shirley and George Marino, Senior Mastering Engineer at Sterling Sound, New York, it’s tempting to attribute the global polish that defines “Jekyll & Hyde” to the touch of outside hands.

There’s no doubt that Shirley (Led Zeppelin; Aerosmith) and Marino (Guns ‘N Roses, Ozzy Osbourne) add substantially to the album’s overall sound, lifting it into arena-sized moments and adding a subtle, but potent sheen to the material. But the real work comes from the band itself.

“Our mantra during the recording process was that good is not good enough,” confides singer Ross Learmonth.

This meant that a batch of potential songs on the album were picked over and some even discarded in the search by Learmonth, Dirk Bisschoff, Marco Gomes, Dale Schnettler and Neil Breytenbach to deliver the perfect mix to their fans.

What was thrilling to the band was the collaborative process that drove the songs on “Jekyll & Hyde” with Schnettler and Breytenbach – the band’s two newest members – now playing a role in the songwriting process. “There was no restriction on who brought what to the songs – it was very, very cool in that way,” says Learmonth. Adds Gomes, “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves after we had written the first three songs – ‘Breathing’, ‘Jekyll & Hyde’ and ‘Closure’ – because they set the benchmark for us and gave us something to aim for with the rest of the material.”

Prime Circle’s acclaimed live shows have also impacted “Jekyll & Hyde”: widely acknowledged as the tightest rock outfit in South Africa, the visceral energy that Prime Circle gives off on stage is evident in songs like “Closure” - as confident an opening number as the band has ever put on an album and a surefire showcase for the clean direction of the material. The latter sees Schnettler’s powerhouse drumming lead the way for Gomes’ bass and Bisschoff’s quite spectacular guitar playing to follow, with all other elements slotting easily in. The band also used a different technique with “Jekyll & Hyde”, tuning their instruments lower than ever before, resulting in a decidedly more ballsy sound. “The sound has more bottom end on the guitar side of things” says Bisschoff.

The band will, however, admit that it wasn’t always easy to reach the superb sound that’s now captured on “Jekyll & Hyde”.

From the initial pre-production early in 2010, to the work done with producer Theo Crous in his Bellville Studio, Prime Circle inhabited an intimate space that encouraged a collaborative songwriting and production process. Prime Circle’s work with Crous on “All or Nothing” in 2008 only added to that.

In the end, there’s a deep satisfaction from all members of the band that they’ve delivered a fourth studio album that has an intuitively great mix of ballsy rock (among them the hard-hitting “Broken Promises” and “Never Gonna Bring Us Down”) and melodic rock songs that are the perfect companions to one of Prime Circle’s biggest hits so far: “She Always Gets What She Wants” off 2008’s “All or Nothing”. Among this melody-based material is the first single “Breathing” which debuted at number one on regional radio a mere two weeks after it made its appearance on South Africa radio and was, in fact, the first song written by the group for Jekyll & Hyde’.

Don’t expect “Breathing” to be the only radio hit off “Jekyll & Hyde”: it’s no exaggeration to claim that at least half the album’s tracks will find a home on the airwaves. Tracks like “Everything You Want” (boasting one of the most beautiful keyboard melody lines Prime Circle’s ever written), the terrific “All of Me” and “I’m Ready” are both aiming straight for radio along with “Turn Me to Stone”.

“Jekyll & Hyde” also has some surprises: “Turning In My Sleep” evokes early U2 in its sonic spaciousness and is one of the album’s clear standouts. It also shows off Learmonth’s growth as a vocalist: for a singer who’s always been at home with the rough growl of commercial hard rock, songs like “Turning in My Sleep” reveal a lightness in Learmonth’s delivery, whilst never losing the emotional power that’s been his trademark since 2002. It’s the same with “Worth the Fight”, a lovelorn song that’s sure to resonate with anyone who has ever regretted a fight with a lover, and the album’s closer and title track.

“I think what really comes across is that, for all its international polish, the original raw Prime Circle feel and emotion is still very much at the heart of this album,” says Bisschoff.

All that’s left now is for Prime Circle to take the new material on the road – the place all five unequivocally admit is their spiritual and natural home.

“We’re not a studio band,” Learmonth candidly says. “I need to write a song and hear it or play a song and see the response. To record a song and sit on it for almost a year whilst fiddling around with it is not our favourite part of being in the music industry. Still, I’m pretty proud of what we’ve achieved on Jekyll & Hyde. We set out not to play it safe on this album and we managed to do that. Now it’s time for us to take the 12 songs out there, and play them live.”

BOOK

Just Jinjer

Just Jinjer

The most successful rock band ever in South Africa, having sold more that a quarter of a million albums, Just Jinjer is back in SA after being based in Los Angeles for the past 8 years.

Just Jinjer's power and alluring appeal is fueled by well-honed and heartfelt musicality, a commitment to communication on a genuine emotional and cerebral level — music that touches the heart, body, mind and soul — and a dedication to their musical mission that is virtually unstoppable. Over the last decade, the band has performed and toured with U2, Counting Crows and Def Leppard among many others, performing for hundreds of thousands of fans in venues all around the world from the UK to Dubai.

BOOK

 

Johnny Clegg

Just Jinger

 

Jesse Clegg

Freshly Ground

Loyiso Bala

Watershed

Garth Taylor

Malaika

Prime Circle

Mafikizola

Mango Groove

Arno Carstens