From her early days as part of the all-girl band, Simply Irresistible, the talented singer has been honing her skills in her quest to make her mark on the South African music scene.
We recently caught up with van Dais to talk about her musical journey, the ups and down of being an independent solo artist and how she keeps her head up even during rainy days.
Q: How has your musical journey been thus far?
A: To sum it up I can say I’ve had a fantastic journey. Not always as easy as it looks but really interesting, exciting, and a great learning experience. I think I’ve done what most South African artists can only dream of. With that being said, I have also had my fair share of hardships and that alone keeps me going because I don’t wish to experience that again.
I have gone from being a festival singer in SA, to performing in UK theatre, festivals and holiday resorts, entertaining tourists on the Mediterranean islands and Isle of Skye. I even got a role performing as Prince Harry’s girlfriend in his documentary, hosted my own live health talk show on SKY TV in London with over 1 million viewers and presented The Eurovision 2nd chance contest for the OGAE fan club.
Best of all I was the first SA artist to be officially booked as a guest artist performing for 8 nights running up to the finals with the winners from 39 countries at the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2014. This has given me much exposure internationally and I decided to make a Eurovision cover album for the new fans I made through this network, and I’m currently recording with local and international artists including Katrina (from Katrina and the Waves) who won The Eurovision song contest in 1997, and Joran Steinhauer who won Eurovision for Latvia in 2014.
Q: You have been in the music industry for a while, what keeps you going?
A: I love the music industry but to keep going, you need to have passion! Without it you should not even get on stage. If you feel you have a purpose in life then you will never stop working on reaching that goal. My goal is to give great entertainment and share quality music that influences, educates, and inspires people.
Q: You have been an independent artist for many years, is this a conscious decision or it is what was available at your disposal?
A: I’ve had offers from major labels before but it just wasn’t the right fit for me so I made a conscious decision to become and independent artist. I don’t feel like I need a label to represent me because I believe in the knowledge, resources and skills I’ve acquired over the years to get me to where I want to be.
I also enjoy being independent artist because I have creative freedom over music, I can write what I like without the need for anyone’s approval. Even though being independent can be tough, I manage that by staying highly motivated and disciplined to get to where I want to be. Moreover, I love being in control of my work, owning my music and managing the projects I feel passionate about.
Q: In this competitive industry, how do you keep yourself relevant?
A: It is a very competitive industry but your biggest competitor is yourself. I don’t see other artists as a threat because my sound is different and I have my own personality. Those are the most important aspects to use to stand out. How you relate to your audience and connect with them is also key.
Q: What are the most important lessons learned from the humble beginnings?
A: “Don’t think you are better than other people, but don’t think they are better than you either”. Those are the words that my grandfather shared with me and I still live by them today.
Most important lessons learned are: set goals, be disciplined and don’t waste time on tasks that are not productive. Outsource the services of professionals who can manage areas of your career that need attention. It can be difficult finding the right people to work with, so keep networking and ask other’s for advice. Let people know what you need and what you can offer. You won’t survive in this business if you think everything will be done for you, but you can’t do everything yourself either. As an artist you need to learn business skills and definitely know how to communicate if you want to get anywhere.
Also be friendly and never ever take people for granted, especially your fans. They are the real stars who make you shine. Remember you are your best advertising.
Q: Are you a SAMRO member? If so, why did you decide to apply for membership?
A: In 2007, after my return from overseas, I got a contract to sing at Sun City for a few months. I had time to write songs and the first Afrikaans song I ever wrote, Daai tipe Meisie, became a number one hit on some local radio stations. I applied for SAMRO membership so I get my royalties for the use of my music.
Q: Lastly, what next?
A: After the duet album I’m currently working on I will go into an English original project and collaborate with various DJs and producers. I’m also working on expanding my company Cole Music and getting the right partnerships to strengthen my weak areas. I’m definitely looking for a good publicist and radio plugger with a positive ‘can do’ attitude to join my company Cole Music.
Anyone who wants to apply can visit www.cole-music.com for more information.