They say once an Idol, always an Idol. While that may ring true for some, Dominic Neill is breaking the mould. The Johannesburg based singer songwriter and former Idols Season 8 contestant (not necessarily a defining factor) has taken what he learnt from his time on the show and turned it into a fully-fledged career.
Soon after the show, the aspiring singer formed the group ‘The Illustrators’ and enjoyed moderate success. Recently signed to Universal music, Dominic really came into his own when he launched his solo career in a joint effort with Joe Louis on the single Better Day, describing it as the best decision he ever made. The song received great reception from local radio, elevating him to star status, but even more influential was his follow-up single Love You Still.
Growing from strength to strength, this is only the start of a promising career for the youngster. You can catch Dominic live at Parklife Festival Johannesburg this Saturday 10 June 2017 at Marks Park, Emmarentia.
Indie Does It: You’ve come a long way since Idols. Looking back is there anything you would do differently?
Dominic Neill: I think in hindsight, it’s always easy to say I would have done this or that better but, the reality is I don’t think I knew any better at the time. The show taught me that I had the potential to have what it takes but if I hadn’t learnt from it and worked hard to try my best to grow, I don’t think it would’ve had the same impact on me as a person and on my career.
Indie Does It: What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt since launching your career?
Dominic Neill: I’ve learnt that talent is a prerequisite and there is no way you can ever do this alone. Having the right people and the right relationships around you is the only way you can ever be lucky enough to make it in the business. I’m just so fortunate to have met some incredible people who have gone out of their way to try and give me the best possible chance.
Indie Does It: Do you feel stigmatised by Idols?
Dominic Neill: I think seeing it as a stigma is quite a negative outlook so I try to avoid that. I’ve always seen Idols as part of my journey and I think that it helped me to grow. I think a lot of people who know me from Idols look back really fondly, not in spite of Idols but rather with Idols as one of the fond memories along the way.
Indie Does It: What do you think is the reason for your success?
Dominic Neill: I’ve been really lucky in so many respects and I think I have to be really thankful for everything! But also, I try and make myself and everyone around me aware that there’s so much more I’d like to achieve and I think it’s this hunger and this realistic outlook that has helped me.
I really just try and make the best possible product for people to consume and reamin focused on what it is I want to achieve, not getting caught up in the current success is something I try hold on to, no matter how proud I really am.
Indie Does It: Last year, you signed a to Universal, what’s that experience been like thus far?
Dominic Neill: It is hands down one of the best decisions I ever made! I have been working with the guys in various capacities at Universal for a long time and we had a “trial” run on my first release “Better Day” and it was just such a pleasure. So when I got the offer, it was an absolute no brainer for me.
Indie Does It: For those who haven’t seen you live, what can fans expect from your performance?
Dominic Neill: One of my favourite parts of performing at the moment is that people can expect to hear music they have never heard before, so sharing that with them is a highlight for me. I also come from an acoustic background so you can see me playing piano on stage and also playing some stripped down versions and cover versions of other songs. But also, I try and portray high energy at all times.
Indie Does It: Who is Dominic aside from the music?
Dominic Neill: My life revolves around people and the things that bring them together like sport, food and anything else that involves experiencing things with the people that mean the most to me. As an only child, my friends are my extended family and we really look to live life as much as we can. If I’m not out and about on a Friday night dancing to Brenda Fassie in Melville, I’m screaming at the TV because the ref missed something.
Indie Does It: When did you first realise music was what you wanted to do for a living?
Dominic Neill: Music has been like a family in my life. I kinda always subliminally knew that it would be there no matter what, but I never ever decided from one day to the next that it would be what I make my “job”. Idols was the first step in a long road to me realising that there is the potential to turn this into my job and the success of “Better Day” and “Love You Still” and landing shows like Parklife have contributed to that.
Dominic Neill: I am an avid festival goer so yes. I’ve been to the previous installments as part of the audience and to be able to join the lineup is super cool. My focus is to show now that I’m worthy of being there. Although I’m playing this year, I’ll definitely be fan girling in the crowd when Gavin James hits the stage nonetheless.
Indie Does It: Who are other up and coming SA artist to look out for?
Dominic Neill: Opposite the Other are a band I’ve been following for a while and they’ve just got qualities that can’t be taught when it comes to songwriting and finding a sound that works. But also, my Deezer Next brothers Southern Wild, RobinThirdFloor and Raheem Kemet are making waves so look out for them too.
Indie Does It: What do you aim to achieve through your music?
Dominic Neill: The music has always been the most important to me. The music will always outlive me as the artist so I’d be so chuffed if some of my songs go on to play as important role in other people’s lives as music does in mine.
Indie Does It: Do you have any plans to venture overseas with your music?
Dominic Neill: I am half German so I speak the language and was lucky enough to have flown to Berlin in February to work with some amazing writers and producers on my upcoming EP. Germany is like a second home and I’d love to do more over there and continue to grow and learn from people all around the world.
I also wrote a song with Jesse Porsches, who is an Australian producer who produced Sleepless by Flume. So I’m keen to add to the list of people, countries and cities and that can only bode well for me making a mark beyond South Africa’s borders.
I will ALWAYS be a South African artist though.
Indie Does It: Tell us about your collaboration with Deezer?
Dominic Neill: I’m really fortunate to be part of a campaign called Deezer Next. With streaming platforms, the major artists have traditionally been the ones to receive the largest marketing space and recognition on these platforms. What Deezer Next is trying to do is change the status quo by giving young, emerging artists like myself the platform to gain the necessary exposure to our music and help us grow.
Download the app and follow Deezer on all their social media platforms to see some of the cool things we will be doing with them.