Michael Lowman was born in Durban, raised in Johannesburg, made in LA and is now based in Cape Town. He is far from your regular, run-of-the-mill, schooled and bread musician. His story is different. It’s like something penned straight out of the Hollywood-Underdog playbook.
At the not-so-tender age of 17, Michael picked up a guitar for the first time. There was never any looking back and no denying his unbelievable talent. Songwriting came naturally for this John Mayer inspired guitarist and he soon found himself in Los Angeles, heart firmly pinned and exposed.
Forward three years and you get a 20-year-old Michael Lowman posting videos of himself, up on YouTube, performing some newly written song ideas. It was these fledgling songs that would catch the eye of Los Angeles record exec Scott Austin (formerly of Maverick/Warner Bros and Capitol Records). As the head of, at the time, independent record label, Authentik Artists, Austin was focused on recording emerging artists and securing film and TV placements for their songs, and was immediately captivated by Lowman’s sound.
Risking everything and completely of his own steam, the brilliantly talented young singer-songwriter made his way over to the USA to set in motion a series of events that would, ultimately, kick-start his career in music.
During Michael’s time in the USA, he recorded an EP with industry legend, producer Mark Needham (Fleetwood Mac, Chris Isaak and The Killers). Together, with the help of some incredible musicians and expert industry knowledge from Scott Austin, they pieced together a 6 track EP titled ‘In My Own Words’ – this would be Michael’s first ever recording.
The EP went on to do extraordinary things. To date, it has garnered a slew of TV and film placements in the USA, Canada and the UK. Many of which are still airing around the world. Perhaps the biggest of these being the use of Michael’s song ‘The One For You’ in a season finale of The Kardashians show ‘Kourtney and Khloe take Miami’ – the episode has since received several million views across the globe, all experiencing Lowman’s husky, tone-filled ballad in accompaniment.
It was these accomplishments, and more, that got the attention of the Major Labels. All of a sudden Michael had options and choices to make. Does he choose a quick fix route to the top or a slower, steadier, truer path? Showing a maturity beyond his years, a maturity that would most certainly elude an individual less at peace with his own destiny, he decided to come back to South Africa and sign with EMI Music. He calls it Paying His Dues.
Since signing with the Major Label, Michael has exploded onto the South African music scene. He has played nearly every major festival and venue in the country and has had numerous hit singles. He has been nominated for a number of awards, including a SAMA, an MK Award and an MTV Music Award.
Michael released his debut album, Crayon Boxes in September of 2013 and the response was unforgettable. Not only has he since performed for and supported international stars like Tori Amos and UB40, but he has also shared the stage with African Mega Stars Mafikizolo, when he was asked to open up the 2014 MTV African Music Awards ceremony. There is no denying that Lowman is one of South Africa’s most prized musical talents. It’s only a matter of time before the world starts making their claim.
He released his second album, PopRadio, at the end of March 2017 and I recently had a chat to him about it. This is what he had to say:
What makes your new album different from your previous releases?
Apart from the obvious difference in musical style, I guess the thing that separates PopRadio form my previous release would have to be my current mindset. I’m growing as a musician and experimentation comes with the territory. You have to leave comfort behind for growth to take hold. It’s an exciting, scary place to be, but I wouldn’t approach life in any other way.
What have you been working on since the album was released?
Since releasing PopRadio I’ve been lucky enough to have had opportunities to write with/for other artists on their own releases – something I always wanted to get involved with. It was also partly the reason for me writing PopRadio, to show you guys that I’m not as one-dimensional as you may have previously thought.
What is your favorite quote about music?
“Musicians aren’t made. Musicians are born.” – Kevin Davidson, one of my lecturers at Varsity, said that.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened during one of your live performances?
I was playing an intimate, acoustic gig in Cape Town and I was singing a line to this girl in the front row – you know, real John Mayer like, haha – and as I’m singing to her I notice her boyfriend sitting next to her and he is FURIOUS! He also clearly hits the gym in a real passionate way. It was all really innocent from end, but he was not having it. Let’s just say I got the hell out of there after the show…
Where can fans catch your next live performance?
June 1st at Rumours in Johannesburg.
I’d like to thank Michael for this interview and I wish him all of the best with his future musical endeavors.
Watch this space for regular updates in the Music and Interviews categories on Running Wolf’s Rant.