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I had to ask, and Lilly Million (pictured) said, indeed, it was her real name. Of course, songs by Lil’ Wayne and almost every other rapper came to mind as they are obsessed with making millions, but the local singer and songwriter insisted Lilly Million was no stage name.
Born Lillian Million, the bubbly artist bumped into her destiny when she was spotted playing the guitar at The Bohemian in Joburg.
“It was a very bad performance,” she recalled. “It was one of those that I was glad had only three people in the crowd, so it did not hurt much. To my surprise, one of the people present worked for Electromode. He came to ask me if I’d be interested in being signed,” she said.
That was two years ago, and only recently did Million release her debut album, Love, Truth & Freedom.
“When I first met Electromode, they asked me to sign a developmental deal which meant I could work with them for a year as I decided on what sound I would like to pursue. So I spent the year recording my songs like a demo, trying to figure out what sound I should pursue,” she explained.
Last year she finalised her project and an incredible 14-track CD was the result.
What is interesting about Million’s sound is that you can’t guess what it is. In fact, you will be fooled by that CD cover on which she is smiling and posing with an acoustic guitar into thinking that she is just another R&B chick. Far from it.
“I don’t know where to place my sound, but it is influenced by alternative rock, so you will hear a lot of electric guitars,” she explained.
“Some people have described it as a ‘white’ sound, whatever that means. All I know is each song has its own identity and I am inspired by the likes of John Mayer and Phil Collins, so yes, I can’t define it,” she said.
Although she defines the album as rock-influenced, Million slows down on a couple of tracks so that you are serenaded by her voice, as opposed to the loud alternative rock sound on other songs.
Having done her 10 000 hours on guitar, the 23-year-old singer writes her own material on the guitar. That said, producing this album proved more taxing than she had imagined. “I had so much opposition from all over and I would cry on my mother’s lap. She told me to keep at it. In time I got used to it and realised it was part of the process. I turned my energy towards the positive response I was getting,” she explained.
Band management was a thing about which she knew nothing. She had a lot to learn.
“I have three guys in my band and I am a girl, so to be able to run that set-up fluently is a big deal,” she said. However, through it all, Million persevered and now has some of her songs playing on radio stations such as Jacaranda, Highveld and East Coast.
“I plan to have a campus tour this year.
“Also, it will be great to be nominated for something, but we’ll see,” she said.
• Love, Truth & Freedom is available at most major music stores.