Michael Lowman on his new album: PopRadio
Back in March, Michael Lowman released his new album, a first in 3 years, PopRadio. I spoke to him about it and all things travelling, waiting, hair and obviously, James Franco.
Richard Chemaly (RC): Made famous in LA and then back to South Africa? In high school, Gayton McKenzie surprised us with a speech about why he didn’t want to seek fame in the false glamour of Hollywood. To many this seemed incomprehensible so I must ask, why did you come back?
Michael Lowman (ML): Sometimes life is cruel for no other reason than to be cruel. This was one of those times. Without getting too much into it, I had to come home to apply for a different visa to the one I was on. It could not have happened at a worse time for me, to be honest. But we carry on, chin up. My time there is fast approaching again, and this time I’m completely over levelled *winks*
RC: As an Offspring fan, I’m used to waiting long for new music but you…you make us wait for like 3 years then tease us with a Karlien van Jaarsveld collab and a Khuli Chana collab and only then just come out with the album! What did you do with all your free time?
ML: ‘All my free time’? *laughs*. That’s funny. The moment a working musician has free time is the moment he starts looking for a day job… that or he’s made his millions and now hangs out with Jay and B in bars. I’m so jealous of Ed! Seriously though, those three years were filled up with touring, writing, living, experimenting, failing, picking myself up off the floor, failing again… it wasn’t a holiday. It was all part of the journey.
RC: Okay but before we get to the new album, I want to talk about a band called Hollywood Undead…their members famously wear different masks for each album release. Is that something you’re trying to emulate with your hairstyles because you change it a lot?
ML: Maybe I should do the mask thing too! It would be much easier *winks*
RC: So the new album, specifically the track “Fight”. Who wrote the piano progression? It’s awesome and certainly the most raw track on the album. On a pop album, I can imagine that the mastering is a big deal. How do you maintain your creativity over the mastering?
ML: I wrote the progression on ‘FIGHT’ – I always write my own stuff. I love that you picked out ‘FIGHT’ from the rest, it’s a very special song. I wrote it about a year before the rest of the album, which is possibly why it stands out so much. It keeps the album grounded.
Mastering is a big deal for a pop record, it was also the only process throughout making the album that I didn’t have hands on control over, purely because I’m not a mastering engineer. Chris Bethea mastered the record. He works out of the US and did a fantastic job.
RC: I keep imagining “Baby Bring Back the Night” as the track playing in the background of the predrinks of a wedding reception. What would you consider being the best use of your music apart from just listening to it? Any songs you’re hoping to get into a film?
ML: Having music placed in film or TV is always such a great thing to have happen for an up and coming artist – yes, I still think of myself as an up and coming kinda guy *winks* – it brings in some cash and better yet, creates invaluable exposure. I thing PopRadio might have a few ‘film friendly’ tracks on it, who knows?
RC: Finally, we need to know who did your album art. Moreover have you ever had a go at any other form of art other than music? Seems like you’d be the kinda James Franco do it all dude?
ML: A friend of mine, Nena Maree is responsible for the awesome designs you’ve been seeing surrounding the album. She’s incredible. I’m very lucky to have her on board.
I like that: Michael Lowman the James Franco of music. Haha. I think it might just be the reason everybody always says to me, “OMG I had no idea that song was you! It sounds so international…” – maybe I should just stick to one thing and let people catch up?
Imma James Franco it!