Chit Chat: Loyiso Bala

2010-11-21 14:50

Award-winning singer Loyiso Bala is no stranger to creating R&B hits. Mokgadi Seabi talks to him about what makes his latest offering special.

Why did you call your latest ­album Full Circle?
I’ve been in the local music ­industry for about 10 years and since I started, my music has been evolving with the times.
However, this time I disregarded all that and went back to the ­original Loyiso. I have come full circle back to the style of the first album.

Do you ever run out of things to write about?

I have always written about ­personal experiences and as long as I’m alive, I’ll always have ­something to write about.
Back in my 20s I used to also write about other people’s ­experiences, but now that I’m ­older I have enough ­material of my own to base my lyrics on.

Which songwriters have you worked with?
I wanted people that can ­transcend cultures and borders. People who can reach a cross-over market.

That’s why I worked with some UK songwriters like Lisa Green who wrote songs for Tom Jones, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue. Another was Martin ­Sutton who has written for Celine Dion, The Backstreet Boys, LeAnn Rimes and Olivia Newton John.

As for ­producers, I worked with a couple in the US. I ended up coming back with about eight songs but only chose three that were ­closest to the style of the ­album.

What is the style of the album?
The lyrics on most of the tracks are more dramatic than usual.

You can hear that Full Circle is a bit more personal than other ­albums.

This is not an album for the crowds, but for the individual to listen and hopefully connect with. I also believe this album is honest and has more character in its ­storytelling.

Is that the only difference on this album?
I used a lot of live elements. There are live drums, guitar, bass guitar, organ and horns.

Many ­people may not be able to tell the difference, but I think it makes the music sound more ­authentic.

Why make such a drastic change?
I decided to move away from programming because live ­instruments give music a basis that is organic and real.

Over the past albums, I’ve tried to keep up with the latest sounds and frankly, I’m tired of doing that. I realised it was time I rooted my music in something solid, even if it’s not the latest trend. It’s a risk that’s well worth taking.

Which song on the album is most personal to you and why?
There’s a track called Waters that I wrote some time ago while making trips to the UK to work on my music. I met someone that I began falling in love with there.

It was while I was sitting on the airplane that I started thinking about the long-distance thing and realised that even if there were no airplanes and ships, I would still get in the water and swim to her. That inspired me to start writing on the plane.

When I arrived in the UK, I recorded the song and sent it to her. She had an opportunity to hear the song three years before anyone else could.

Apart from Khuli Chana, you feature your younger brother Phelo on the album. Why?
I believe Phelo is a talented ­singer and songwriter. In fact, he’s releasing his first album some time next year.

Our brother Zwai featured me on their TKZee Family album when I was just starting out so its fitting that I’m doing the same for Phelo.

As for Kuli, I believe his music has character and personality. His is the kind of collaboration I was looking for on this album.

Seeing as the whole Bala clan sings, Christmas time must be very entertaining ...

Yes it is, but we don’t burst into a song like they do in ­musicals because that’ll be too cheesy. However, when we do sing, which is usually after lunchtime, we do it properly. Not as properly dressed as we are on stage. But the whole family, from aunts, uncles to cousins, we all like singing.

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