Just cruisin’


We spoke to up-and-coming SA artist Connell Cruise whose recently released hit single, Not Just Friends, off his self-entitled debut album is getting massive airplay and accelerating up local charts.

You might be new to the radio airwaves but you’ve gained much experience over the years through theatre, reality TV show Idols and the gospel music scene. Tell us a bit about your journey?

It's been 22 years of dreaming big and working hard. I like the idea that the journey is just as important as the destination ? taking nothing for granted, enjoying and making the most of every opportunity. So I try to live that. The road so far has been about training and honing my craft, learning the ins and outs of the industry, meeting some incredible people and making good friends along the way. Signing up with the legendary David Gresham Records has been the start of another journey, one I'm loving every minute of. But it's good and important, I think, to remember where you come from and what brought you to where you are. For me, that's something I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

The journey has just begun for you, and what a ride it seems to be, with you topping charts so quickly with Not Just Friends. What’s been the biggest highlight for you?

I really love to hear people's reactions to the album, particularly Not Just Friends. There are so many stories behind the music from my side, and getting to know what others get out of the songs has been really special for me. That's an ongoing highlight, but one moment that really stands out has to be the week the album dropped on iTunes and in music stores. It was the same week Not Just Friends landed number one in SA ? my debut album, first single and first number one . . . It was my birthday as well (and I'm a sucker for sentiment) so that's going to be a tough one to beat.

What made you decide to transition from classical music to the more mainstream music you’ve produced on your debut album?

It’s true that I didn't set out to do mainstream music but my attitude in life is that when there's an open door, walk through it. David Gresham Records saw potential and I saw an opportunity, so we went for it. I'm really glad we did.

Tell us a bit about your songwriting process?

Life inspires me ? stories, experiences, people. My passion is to write into music what we're all feeling, what we're all thinking. Songs that we can relate to. So I'm constantly writing down ideas or lines that I've heard or thought, then setting aside a specific time every week just to work on songs. Although the discipline helps to get the process moving, I could be working on a song for years before it comes together in just one studio session. I love working with other writers as well; it's great to hear fresh takes and different ideas. We've all got our own stories that we want to share.

Which song is your favourite on the album?

Oughta Tell You

Have you worked with any other artists on this album? If not, who would you like to work with in future?

I'm loving what's happening with SA music right now; [it’s] fresh, excellent songwriting backed up by quality production. Jimmy Nevis, Daniel Baron, BlackByrd, Loki, ChianoSky . . . Got a lot of respect for this new generation of artists.

Your first single, Not Just Friends ? tell us about the inspiration behind that song . . .

It's basically what I wish I had said when I got the "let's be friends" talk from a girl years ago as we were breaking up. She handed me the line and like an idiot I said, "Yeah, let's be friends.” I think we all know what a world of hurt that line of conversation leads to. What I should have said was . . . Not just friends.

With your dazzling smile and old-school charm you must have ladies queued around the corner. Tell us, what do you look for in an ideal mate?

Haha . . . It's always been important to me that she gets on with my family. Her quality of faith and character are just as important. Someone who knows me and knows what is important to me, inspires and challenges me. My muse. The person I can't wait to see when I wake up in the morning, someone I can share this beautiful life with. Hopefully I can be the same for her.

What song best describes your work ethic?

Michael Jackson's Don't Stop Till You Get Enough.

Do you have a message for the SA youth and tips for aspiring artists?

The best advice I ever received: don't force anything, be patient but work hard, be exactly who you are and don't lose sight of what's most important, dream big and don't mess up.

- Faiza Mallick

Here's the video for his first single, Not Just Friends... What do YOU think?

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