Gino Lee likes to live life in the fast lane. When he is not off gallivanting on the streets of New York City or LA, he is back home in SA entertaining audiences and winning competitions. This past weekend, the singer, songwriter, producer and actor took home first prize in the Local is Lekker singing competition together with KFM, People’s Post, Vangate Mall, Coca-Cola and Vodacom.
The Port Elizabeth born and bred musician – now Cape Town based – walked away with R10 000 in fashion vouchers, as well as the opportunity to record a new single at Big House Studios which will debut on KFM – a dream come true.
Not one to brag, Gino remains humbled by the opportunities he has been given and extends a hand of thanks to the sponsors involved. He aims to use this win to not only further his career as an artist, but to give back to the community.
Every Saturday Gino Lee hosts Woodstock Open Mic at Three Feathers Diner, giving up-and-coming artists a platform to showcase their talent.
We chat to him about the competition, his win and nerves on stage.
Indie Does It: Why the decision to enter the Local is Lekker competition?
Gino Lee: The biggest reason why I entered the Local is Lekker competition is to get a song playlisted on radio. It was the grand prize of the competition and exactly what I needed at this stage of my career.
Indie Does It: Did you think there was a chance you could win?
Gino Lee: In the top 20 I was already competing among some of the greatest talent in Cape Town. It was a diverse group with great vocals and personalities. However, I entered this competition to win and I didn’t let anyone or anything affect or intimidate me.
Indie Does It: What are you going to do to maximise this win and use it your advantage?
Gino Lee: First I will take advantage of the song that will be playlisted on radio. It is my original song “Back To Me”, which I sang in the finals of the competition. I was so happy that the crowd and the judges loved it.
Indie Does It: What was the competition like?
Gino Lee: The competition was very well organised, and the sponsors involved were at the top of their game. Vangate Mall was the perfect venue for the event and the organisers were so friendly and well prepared.
The MC Junaid also kept the crowd entertained and contestants on their toes! The main organiser, Gouwa Waja-Stemmet made sure that the contestants were all informed and ready to rock the stage on the day. The talent level was so high that I felt anyone could have won! Song choice was very important and everyone chose songs that the crowd loved.
Indie Does It: What was your favourite part of the competition?
Gino Lee: My favourite part of the competition was to be able to sing my own original song in front of such a big crowd, and seeing how much they loved and enjoyed dancing to it. That was definitely one of the greatest moments, apart from the moment Brandon Leigh from KFM called my name as the winner of the day.
Indie Does It: Do you still get nervous when performing?
Gino Lee: I sometimes get nervous, especially in a competition because the stakes are high and you are competing against other singers. Right before I go on the stage I do have some nervous energy but once I’m up there I’m fine.
Indie Does It: How are you enjoying Cape Town?
Gino Lee: Im originally from the friendly city, Port Elizabeth which I love very much. I came back from Los Angeles last year and I am now based in Cape Town. I decided to move here because I have some family here (my brothers Marco and Rico).
Over the years we loved travelling to Cape Town and enjoyed spending our holidays here. I am signed to a local agency here as well. The city offers so many great opportunities.
Indie Does It: Are you looking at returning to the States in the near future?
Gino Lee: Yes, I am planning to return to Los Angeles. I am signed with Discover Management for film and acting there. I would like to go back to expand on my career.
Indie Does It: Tell us about the winning song, Back To Me?
Gino Lee: I wrote it at the end of last year. It is a song about the emotions that we feel when we want someone back in our lives. It’s about break ups and possible make ups.
Indie Does It: You also host a Open Mic on Saturdays, tell us more about this?
Gino Lee: I host the Woodstock Open Mic, every Saturday from 12-3pm at Three Feathers Diner (opposite The Old Biscuit Mill). I created this platform because as an upcoming artist it is sometimes difficult to get your music out there and to find great performance venues.
Woodstock Open Mic is free and open to any musician who wants to showcase themselves by playing covers or original songs. We have been going strong for two months now and have built up a great network of musicians in the area. I’m very grateful for the owners of the Diner for letting us use their super cool space to hold this awesome event!