Johannesburg - Many South Africans may not be familiar with the name Michael Lowman.
But in the US, the South African-born singer, guitarist, and songwriter has made quite a name for himself in the past few years.
In the two years he spent in the US, Lowman played to a number of sold-out gigs, his music has been used on popular reality TV show The Kardashians: Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, and many of his songs have been played on US radio stations.
Lowman was signed up by US record executive Scott Austin of Authentik Artists a few years ago after Austin saw two of Lowman’s cover videos on YouTube.
The 26-year-old flew to the US and recorded an EP during his time with Austin’s indie label in Los Angeles.
While his music career was flourishing in the States, Lowman was forced to return home because his visa had expired. On his return last year, Lowman was contacted by Universal Records, which signed him up.
Early last month Lowman released his first full-length album, Crayon Boxes, which he is extremely proud of.
Speaking to the Saturday Star, Lowman said he had looked forward to releasing a full-length album since the day he first picked up a guitar.
“Everything I’ve ever done musically has led to this point, and everything I do from now on will be aimed at album number two,” he said.
“I suppose an album, or any form of release, is a great way to gauge things in your career.
“Have I progressed as a musician? Are people still interested in what I have to say?
“I cannot wait for album number two, though I’m trying not to get ahead of myself too much.”
Having released his album a few weeks ago, Lowman said the response had been very good from South Africans.
“The reviews that have come in so far have been incredibly positive. MusicReview gave the album 81 percent, which I’m stoked over!
“I think it’s a fantastic introduction to me, my music and my potential as an artist.”
Lowman, who was born in Durban but grew up in Benoni, said there were a number of challenges he faced when recording the album.
“For me the biggest challenges were song selection – purely because I had so much material I wanted to put on the album – and adapting my solo acoustically written tunes to that of a band sound.”
“But with the help of my producer, Darryl Torr, I managed to get through it. I only really got the hang of the process towards the end of recording the album.
“Overall, recording my debut album taught me so much. It was an invaluable step in a journey that has only just begun. It’s exciting!”
Lowman says the name Crayon Boxes is significant to him.
“From as early as I can remember, I’ve associated sound with colour,” he said.
“I literally hear a melody and see a colour. When I listen to the collection of songs on my album, it reminds me of those beautifully colourful crayon boxes… you know the ones we all used in art class as kids?”
The former CBC Boksburg student said his album is filled with various genres of music.
“I suppose that comes down to my love for music in general, and the fact that I’m still figuring out what kind of music I really want to make. I’m a confused muso.”
Having spent two years in the US, Lowman said it had been a phenomenal experience.
“America is a different ball game altogether – it’s unreal.
“I’m planning on going back when the time is right.
“I made some great friends while I was there, some great connections. For me, the US was a kind of testing ground. I figured if I could live as a musician in LA for a year, then perhaps I can do this for the rest of my life. I’m only getting started.”
The musician said he had been very fortunate to have his music played on popular reality show The Kardashians.
“When Scott and I sat down to discuss what kind of EP we wanted to record, we settled on a ‘placement friendly’ kind of sound… and that’s exactly what we recorded.”
“I’ve been very lucky with regard to my music being selected to appear in various TV shows. The Kardashian episode was certainly one of the bigger placements, in terms of viewership. That EP is actually still doing the rounds in the US – it’s surreal.”
Lowman is shy to admit it, but he enjoys reality programmes such as the Kardashians.
“I’ve always been a fan of those silly reality shows. Don’t tell anyone I said that,” he laughed.
Lowman says he is determined to go back to the US once his career is launched since he enjoyed his time there.
“It’s very much in my future plans. I may even head back there as soon as next year, for a few showcases. You can’t give me a taste of being a musician in LA and not expect me to crave it every single day of my life. It’s a beautiful curse.”
Now that Lowman has released his debut full-length album, what’s next?
“My immediate goal is to tour the album here in South Africa for all of next year, to get my name, my sound and my stories out there.
“From then it’s back to the US… possibly to record the next album.
“I know for a fact that I’m going to end up touring the world. I’m bigger than my body gives me credit for.”