There are often South African artists that become popular overseas. Connell Cruise is one of those artists. MEB staff writer Craig Roxburgh got a chance to interview him ahead of his upcoming tour of South Africa.
MEB: This will be your first time officially touring South Africa; what are you looking forward to the most about the tour?
Connell Cruise: More than anything I’m so amped to get to meet my fans around the country. I’ve been travelling so much lately between New York and Johannesburg that I hardly get anytime to perform anywhere else. Then there’s the music, SA audiences are the best in the world (that’s why so many international acts keep coming back), there’s such an energy coming from the crowd, it’s always a great feeling to put on a show for that kind of love. I’ve also lined up some of my new music that won’t be released until my US label puts it out later this year, these are songs I’ve never performed live before and I can’t wait for SA to be the first to hear them!
Your tour is unique, for an internationally acclaimed pop star, as you’re performing numerous intimate shows as opposed to grandiose arena shows. What made you decided to tour in this fashion?
It’s all for the fans. This tour is my way of saying thank you for the mad love and support they’ve given my music, for getting me to where I am today- releasing my music around the world! It’s a big show, but it’s going to be an intimate experience, we’re going to laugh and cry, dance and sing, and we’re going to do it all together.
You are one of South Africa’s most recent musical exports that have made it big overseas. What is it like joining the very small group of home-grown acts that have made it overseas?
That’s lovely of you to say, thank you. It feels great to represent SA music to the world! Though I wouldn’t say I’ve “made it”- there’s still a lot of work to do. Getting signed to Island Records is an open door, an opportunity like no other in the music world, but I need to walk through it and make the most of it. It really does help knowing everyone back home is behind me, and I’m enjoying every minute.
Being South African, do you feel like you get treated any differently when you perform overseas?
Surprisingly yes. I think in the same way the audiences back home freak out when an international act comes to perform. To the international music scene, I (as a South African) am international. It’s a weird, but cool mind shift that I need to get used to.
I have noticed that several people seem to be quite shocked by the fact that you’re South African, and can’t believe how good your music sounds. Do you have any thoughts regarding this?
I like that SA listeners are struggling to hear the differences between international and local music, it means we’re getting better. At the end of the day, good music is good music, no matter where it comes from. The standard is the same for every ear and that’s what every artist, including me, needs to aim for.
Seeing as you have a bit of an international perspective on the music scene. Do you have any comments on the current climate of the local music scene, or has it been difficult to keep up with it?
I think it’s awesome! I keep my ear tuned to the local scene in SA (never forget your roots) and I love how distinctive our sound is becoming. It’s also been interesting for me to hear the new music being released internationally and notice how much of an influence the local SA sound has on even the biggest names in music. That says something about where SA music is headed.
What can fans expect from your show when you bring it down to South Africa?
I’m so amped for this tour! It’s my first national tour, kicking off on the 13th of March at Emperors Palace and then heading out to every Barnyard Theatre across the country. I’m coming to Willowbridge in Cape Town, Cresta and Rivonia in Johannesburg, Parkview in Pretoria, and Gateway in Durban. As I said before, it’s a show for the fans. There have been some great moments that have led up to me getting signed to Island Records in the States and putting this Into The Wild tour on the road and all of those moments trace back to my fans being the greatest in the world. This is my chance to say thank you, and to sing my heart out for them. All the listings and tickets are available at www.barnyardtheatre.co.za – hope I see you there!
Finally, what is one stereotype about South Africa that you often hear overseas?
That we’re all close friends with Trevor Noah.