Once South African House music devotees fall in love with an international artist’s music, they instantly become the biggest supporter of such musician’s product. That said, these fans are the hardest to please, only quality music gets their attention – and one American artist who has won their hearts is Portia Monique, by offering the music industry loyalists just what they want… GOOD music!
It is unbelievable to learn that the versatile singer, one of the current most loved international vocalists, knew nothing about House music; the genre that would later introduce her to many fans across the globe – including the headquarters of House music, South Africa.
This was before the Hawaiian-born African-American artist met Oli Lazarus, who introduced her to UK-based The Layabouts, from Reel People Music in 2011. Since then her collaboration with the British duo – which produced popular singles such as Do Better, Tell Me Now and Bring Me Joy (all of which featured on the super-stylish soul-house duo’s 2012 album Future Retro) – entertained Mzansi night clubs and national radio stations.
Portia recently toured SA for the incomparable house music experience, where she performed for more than 13 000 screaming fans at some of the biggest events in the country – notably Spring Fiesta Music Festival.
I have been following her South African tour, watching and listening to her numerous TV and radio interviews. Portia’s excitement of her 10 days stay in the motherland and her smart approach to music persuaded my decision to request an interview before she left Mzansi, to chat about South Africa, forthcoming album release and her latest hit single – Free (Is All I Want To Be). (courtesy of the ever professional Ralf Gum, who made the interview happen)
Here is how the interview went:
Part 1: SOUTH AFRICA
Who introduced you to House music and South African house music scene?
PM: I was introduced to The Soulful House scene by Oli Lazarus of Reel People Music, who then introduced me to the house music duo The Layabouts.
When did you realize that you have many fans in South Africa?
PM: I realized a year after ‘Do Better’ was released. My Twitter and Facebook friend requests skyrocketed. And I receive a ton of positive messages from my music lovers about the way they felt about my music, which was lovely.
What was your impression about South Africa before your first visit in the country?
PM: My impression about South Africa before I arrive was that it had my ideal weather (nice and warm), and that it was filled with beautiful and friendly people of color.
You have been in South Africa twice, what have you learned about the country?
PM: One thing I’ve learned for sure is that South Africa is in love with Soulful House.
What surprised you the most about South Africa?
PM: I never knew that House music was so massive in SA, so that was a grand surprise indeed.
You have been performing almost everywhere lately. Out of all the events, for whatever reason, which one stood out?
PM: They’ve all stood out in great ways for sure, but the Spring Fiesta was one exciting venue because of the massive stage, the sound quality and the crowds AMAZING reaction! Playing the Spring Fiesta was truly a treat.
You have been doing numerous TV and radio interviews, do you get similar special and warmth attention back home?
PM: I believe that I would get the same warmth and love if the industry was more receptive to the music I create. So as of now, sadly no… But hopefully in the near future they will.
One of your Facebook statuses reads: “SA? Will you please adopt me 🙂 !!! The energy here is insane!!! Much love!” Would you consider relocating to SA just like your friend and colleague Ralf Gum?
What memories would you take home about Mzansi (South Africa)?
PM: A ton of memories for sure, but the most memorable would be the vibe and passion of the SA people. I love it!
Any special message to your South Africa fans?
PM: To all my music lovers, I love you; I appreciate you, and I thank you for all the love support and passion that you give me and my art! You’re keeping good music alive, and again I thank you for that.
Part 2: FORTHCOMING ALBUM RELEASE/CURRENT SINGLE
When is your debut album coming out and where can people purchase it?
PM: My album release date is October, 27, 2014 and is currently available for pre order on iTunes, globally. I’m very excited!
Who did you work with and what should we expect from Nobody Grace?
PM: The entire album was produced by Reel People Music, and you should certainly expect great things from my new music and lots of live shows!
Free (Is All I want to Be) is one of the current most played songs on the radio, did you expect this much appreciation?
PM: I didn’t expect this kind of response, but then again, I feel if you’re true to yourself and your art, it will always resonate with the masses.
How did the collaboration with Ralf Gum come about?
PM: Ralf just simply contacted my management and myself about the collaboration, sent me the track, and the track resonated with me so I agreed to collaborate with Ralf Gum, and here we are today.
You can follow Portia on Twitter @portiamonique
And Quibell @QuiRams