Teenzone had the opportunity of chatting to local artist, Dominic Neill! Dominic has continued to up his game year-by-year since his Idols appearance in 2012 and now he has released his very first EP, Out of Your League. We discussed the past five years Dominic has spent in the music industry as well as the production process of his debut album:
It’s been nearly five years since you were on Idols. What have you learnt in those five years regarding the music industry?
I like to say I know a whole lot about the industry because since I left the show I’ve been working and learning within the industry. The one thing I’ve learnt that has been so important is that it is so tough and so unpredictable. There is no blue print, there is no map to the top. You’ve just got to keep your head down and keep working hard.
Your first significant radio hit was “Better Day” in early 2016. You worked with Joe-Louis to make the track. How did the partnership come about?
Yeah, crazy that’s it’s close to two years ago already. I had been working with Universal on another artist’s project and I made them aware of my desire to have a crack at writing myself. That’s when I got the instrumental for “Better Day” in my inbox and two weeks later we released the song. It was one of the most seamless records I’ve ever been a part of.
You lent your voice to DJ Kent’s smash hit, ‘Love You Still’. What was it like working alongside DJ Kent?
That song was actually an idea I wrote about 4 years ago on guitar and I never really knew what I was going to do with it. Kent was looking for a 10th track on the album and had heard the idea after Universal sent him a bunch of half ideas I had written. Working with Kent was great because he knew he wanted to take the song to a place and had a vision for it. What I love about Kent is that he is all about the music and that’s what his only focus is, which is rare in today’s industry. So it was great and I’m still seriously taken aback at how well the song ended up doing.
Did you ever expect that the track would get so big?
I don’t think anyone can predict a song to do anything like that! We had a feeling that it was something really special and the song has always meant a lot to me but for it to become one of the most played songs in South Africa for a whole year is just something else.
You signed with Universal Studios in 2016. How does it compare working independently compared to working for a label?
Universal Music Group are officially the biggest label in the world so yeah, it’s great. They’re an incredible group of people and offer a whole support network. I think that’s the benefit of being at a big label, you can really just focus on being a musician and sometimes that exactly what we need as artists
You released your debut album, ‘Out of Your League’, in October. Has the response measured up to what you expected?
Again, expectations are tough because of how unpredictable everything is in this industry. But I’ve been happy with how people have responded and I look forward to them getting to know more and more of my music.
How did you decide on the title of the EP?
I just loved the sound and feel of “Out Of My League” as a debut album/EP. It shows how quickly this has all happened and I could’ve easily felt out of my depth but I haven’t and I’m proud I haven’t. So it’s a bit of a play on words.
What do you feel was your source of inspiration for the recording of this EP?
It’s all direct experiences and love is always a central theme when I write because it’s so familiar to people but you can tell the stories about love from so so many different angles and that was my goal with this. Showing how love can be so good but so bad at the same time and that love has so many different spaces and emotions tied to it.
How do you go about deciding what music is going to be on the EP?
It’s all gut feel with me. Some of the producers actually mock me for saying “ah man, that works”. But that’s my process when I write, either I feel something works or I feel it doesn’t and luckily so far my gut feel has been right, so let’s try keep it that way.
You not only recorded in South Africa, you also went abroad. Was that the highlight of working on this EP?
There are so many highlights but yes. The week in Berlin writing for the album and for other people definitely stands out because it meant I wrote music in a completely different space with completely new people around me and the fact that the guys in Germany trusted me enough to just put me in a studio is an incredible feeling. It was one of the best musical experiences of my life thus far.
Where can fans expect to see you this festive season?
I’m really trying to push the public shows. Yes, we do have a lot of corporate or private shows this time of year but I’m hoping to help boost the culture of going to watch live music in South Africa. Follow me on Instagram and Facebook etc to check out where I’ll be playing and what I am up to.