Connell Cruise knows how to connect with an audience. The South African singer-songwriter has a smile to brighten any room and an attitude to match. Charismatic and modest, Connell has a boyish sense of curiosity and a love for life that has seeped into his music. He writes energetic, catchy songs that exude positivity and maturity and says that, “just to be able to make music – that’s the most incredible dream.”
Connell was born in a suburb of Johannesburg to a very musical family. His grandmother, a well-known performer in Spain, had each of her grandchildren learn a performance art at a young age. “It was a kind of rite of passage for us,” he remembers. “My grandmother loved music and performance and wanted us to experience that rush as well.” For Connell, she selected the piano; classical training began on his fourth birthday, and years of practice would eventually earn him a qualification from Trinity College, London.
We have been in contact with Connell Cruise over the past year and have been following his rise to stardom, with his move from South Africa to the USA. Connell is still very passionate about South Africa and lends inspiration from South Africa in his sound. We managed to chat with this talented singer/songwriter recently, where we got to hear about how music has always been a part of his life, what made him move around and discuss his latest EP ‘INTO THE WILD‘. Give it a read and please do share the feature with your friends:
Interview: Connell Cruise
- Hi Connell… really nice to be chatting to you!! How are you doing today?
Hi! Great to be able to chat with you again. I’m grand this side thanks. Hope you’re well?
- Please give us a short background on how you got interested in music growing up?
My grandmother, a world touring performing Artist in her day, made sure that my brother; cousins and I all were immersed in music from a young age. She started teaching me to play the piano when I was four years old. Growing up in my home there was always music, of every kind; all beautiful. You couldn’t help but fall in love with it.
- Who were some of your musical inspirations as a youngster?
The first concert I remember going to was the Michael Jackson tour he brought to South Africa in the 90s. He blew my mind. I’ve always been into Queen (thanks to my parents). I was a huge fan of the Backstreet Boys and Hanson in Primary School, the first poster I ever bought to hang in my room was a Hanson poster, haha!
- You have moved over to New York, USA, to further your musical journey and expand as an artist. How has this process been thus far? Has your sound changed with the new influences around you overseas?
I think my sound is definitely finding new ways of relating to a wider audience here. The team at Island and David Gresham are very keen on holding tight to the South African influences that have defined my music thus far, it’s important to me that I never lose sight of where I come from even as I explore new genres and styles.
- You have recently released your brand new EP entitled Into The Wild. The EP was released through Island Records worldwide and David Gresham Records in SA. What can we expect from the new EP of yours?
It’s an introduction to the music I’ve been working on since making the move to the United States. It’s a first taste that combines the songs that South Africa has become familiar with (Into the Wild and Forever having played over the radio there) along with the records that carry on from where that story left off.
- Who did you work with on this EP? Anyone you think needs a special mention?
Ido Zmishlany from Brooklyn, New York produced and co-wrote on the album. It was a great privilege to work with him on this EP. I also had the pleasure of writing with the like of James Shelley and Derek Fuhrmann. I’m proud to say that the final track on the EP ‘I Am Your Man’ is a fully South African composition; I got to work with Andrew Baird and Colin Vincent in Johannesburg on that one.
- Our local South African music scene has produced some amazing bands/musicians over the past few years…. what are your views of our local music scene?
I’m proud to have that as my heritage, and I’m proud to be part of it still.
- Anything that you are currently working on that we would be interested in hearing about?
At the moment I’m on a radio promo tour around the States so it’s a mad rush of travelling and getting to see a whole lot of this massive and beautiful country. I’m also preparing for my first NYC residency at the Rockwood Music Hall starting in September!
- Where can we follow you on Social media?
- Thanks for your time…!!