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Meet Iain Thomas, the 36-year-old South African poet who is famous all over the world except in SA

Soul Amalgamator

2007-12-14 11:50
Give us the low down on your new album, Introducing SoulAmalgam
I worked with Grammy award winning producer, Ced Keyz International who happens to be Jazzy Fizzel’s business partner and has worked with artists such as Ciara, Gnarls Barkely and Chris Brown. I also worked with Grammy nominee Will Briggs who has worked with the likes of Patty La Belle and Kelly Price. To bring a little edge to the project I invited Mr. Shonuff to produce a few tracks. The album speaks mainly on my experiences in my personal life, my journey and struggle within the music industry and everyday issues.

SoulAmalgam is an interesting name, tell us more…
Well what happened was that my manager and I decided to create my own genre which I call “Soul Amalgam”. Basically “Soul Amalgam” is different kinds of sounds or music amalgamated together but with one thing in common…soul. There are tracks with a Rock feel, R&B, House/Kwaito, Hip-Hop etc….but they all have a soulful base.

Have you had any voice training? Do you think it’s imperative for musicians to be trained?
No I have not had any formal form of voice training. When I was a finalist on American Idol Season 1 in 2002, we were given voice lessons for that period of time to prepare ourselves for the next rounds, but besides that I have not had any training at all. I do encourage voice training for the most part because it guides you on how to use your voice as an instrument and know what its limits are. I am definitely not against it.

What was your American Pop idols experience like?
Phew…well I can tell you it was one of the best times of my life and also one of the most stressful. I auditioned for American Idol in 2002 while I was living in Atlanta. Fortunately I managed to impress the judges except Simon who thought I could not sing. But despite that I became one of the finalists from the Atlanta group and we were flown to LA for the rest of the competition. To cut a long story short I made it to the top 40 and then I was sent home. However I learned a great deal from that experience. I met and spend time with some of the contestants including the winner Kelly Clarkson.

What do you think you’ll be offering the Mzansi music industry?
Real quality music and true artistry. I believe a lot of the artists in SA are just as good or even better then some of our counterparts overseas. However we have fallen short when it comes to branding and taking time to make quality music with an international appeal. It’s slowly changing but there’s still a wide gap in the market for artists of that caliber. I believe that what I’m offering is going to hopefully revolutionize the industry here at home and create a ripple effect, to the point were we as South African musicians are not merely seen as just acts from “Africa” but are on the same if not higher platform.

You had a high paying job with the perks. Why risk it all for a music career that has no guarantees?
It’s funny a lot of people ask me that. I was bored with my job in IT and needed to have something in my life that I could be excited and passionate about every morning. I had done everything that everyone had expected me to do. I got two degrees, one in Marketing and my Masters in Computer Science and I was working for one of the biggest multi-national companies in the world and earning a good salary. Yet at the end of the day I was unhappy. So I decided to change that. I took a risk not to escape life but to prevent life from escaping me by following my true calling, music.

You had a stint as a back-up singer with jazz singer Linda Kekana and the late Lebo Mathosa. You’ve also done some vocals on Loyiso’s latest album Blow your mind. Which music genre do you feel most comfortable and expressive with?
At one point I thought it was R&B. Then I started to experiment with other genres and found that I was most comfortable when I could relate to the song and felt it wholeheartedly. Hence that brought about the birth of my own genre “SoulAmalgam”. As long as there is soul in the song/music, I feel at home.

If your album doesn’t do well will you go back to a 9 – 5 job?
I will do whatever it takes to make my music career a success even if it means going back to a 9-5 temporarily to make it work which I highly doubt. It’s more important to me to have a successful music career as opposed to just having a successful album. I also do business in other industries so I am not just a musician but an entrepreneur as well.

Why should we buy your album and when can we expect to see it on shelves?
The album should be on the shelves in the first quarter of 2008. If you want to hear something refreshing, soulful and versatile then my album is for you. The single and video for my first single ‘Bhum Bhum’ featuring Incha will be released soon.

Your thoughts on Zuma as future president?
Zuma as president?....mmmm…I would prefer to keep that answer to myself.

- Gugu Mkhabela
Ofentse is a super talented singer to watch out for in 2008. With his experience in American Idols, a stint as back-up vocalist for the late Lebo Mathosa and on a track in Loyiso's latest album, Blow Your Mind, we had to find out what this funky fresh brother on the urban soul block is about. Find out more about this rising star in our exclusive interview.

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