One day while reading through Facebook I noticed a share by the awesome South African actor Zak Hendrikz telling me to go check out a song by Megan C. This, he said, is going to be her year. I am in full agreement. Please have a listen and share her song on Facebook to increase her chances for this soundtrack.
After listening, I didn’t waste any time in getting hold of her and we had the most fun interview at a coffee shop in Lanseria Airport! She is one of the most natural people I’ve interviewed.
How did you get into music and movies?
I have my degree in Musical Theatre, Cum Laude but before that I was also classically trained. I got a scholarship to study opera and I thought ‘no that’s not for me’. I’d rather do musical theatre. There was always that dream of being a pop star and I knew if I could become a fully-fledged performer, the course was so multi-faceted.
Musical theatre is better than it’s ever been. When I started studying it was just Cats and Showboat that were available. Now it’s exploded, which has been an incredible process to watch. The difference between South African talent and talent overseas is we’re so very hungry because opportunities are few and far between.
I retired from Musical Theatre about three years ago and I look back and think that was such a crazy decision and I also realised the reason I did it is because I’ve been doing musical theatre since I was six years old. I needed a new challenge, and I wanted to go into film and finally focus on my album.
Once you’re in a show, it takes up your life and you just don’t have time outside of it. I needed to build my brand. I’m actually busy with Riaan Fourie, an artist developer from Cape Town and he’s helping me with my album.
What other shows and things have you done?
When I did musicals, the first show that I did was Hair, and that was the one that I did with people that you’ve already interviewed before, Zak and Suzzi, and from there I went onto Rent, and toured all over Asia with We Will Rock You. We were lucky enough to work with Roger Taylor and Ben Elton. It was incredible. I met my mentor there who had written for Chaka Khan, Chaka actually came out to Hong Kong and saw us on stage. Howard’s written for Whitney Houston, he’s worked with Michael Jackson. After that tour I did Aspects of Love for Bernard Jay, and then from there I did Spotlight. After that I did Evita. And I did Jesus Christ Superstar. I did a Season of the Final Countdown at The Barnyard and then I called it quits, because I also started auditioning for Rhythm City and I had my heart set on that. This was back in 2012 and I got to play Stacy, quite possibly one of the most psychotic characters on TV. They did plan on killing the character but they rewrote it and she’s now missing in Durban somewhere. That was fun. I was trashing apartments, assaulting innocent men with a baseball bat, on screen slaps.
We were so convincing and I think the character sort of kicked us in the teeth. There were Facebook posts on the page saying things like ‘Team Stacy gave me power. I found out that my boyfriend was having an affair and I scratched his TV. Thank you #TeamStacy’ and I thought “ohhh… we’ve created a monster”. I didn’t realise how much people lived in that soapie world. It’s a bit scary but it’s a massive compliment.
You started with the Kimberley Children’s Choir.
Yes. I’m a small town girl from Kimberley. I was born in the age of uncertainty and we were part of the transition. So I was one of the first non-whites allowed into the choir and we took the world by storm. Definitely one of the most incredible experiences of my life. There’s always been a degree of pioneering in my life. It’s a pattern I enjoy. We took part in the first ever choir Olympics in Austria. In the gold category there’s three places, first second and third and then you get silver and bronze. We came home with gold. We were the third best choir in the world, first best in South Africa. They’re still going and they’re the jewel of Kimberley. It’s something I’ve termed “Kimberley Magic”, because of the talent that comes out of that town in particular. We have an incredible musical theatre culture. The man that taught us musical theatre when I went to Pretoria Tech was Johann Swart and he was the one who founded the musical theatre culture in Kimberley. So it was very interesting for me to come from Kimberley knowing what this man had laid down for me and then to be taught by him. What was incredible about musical theatre there was people spent a lot to come and see us. It was amateur theatre, but our sets were incredible. The lights were incredible. We had a full symphony orchestra led by children. There are lots of diamonds in the rough in Kimberley.
Which of your work are you the most proud of?
Generally when you have a great range you want to be as versatile as possible and nobody knows your sound. It’s fantastic to be talented but if you don’t have your sound, nobody can identify you. I found my sound in 2014. The album that I’m writing right now is a country album. That’s what I grew up with and what I’m working on. I grew up old school with Willy Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris. I’m four songs in, and I need to get to Cape Town and record everything. I want to record them right now, make sure they’re done and mixed and mastered and then carry on again. It’s useless having all these songs, all these lyrics, music and you haven’t made anything tangible with them.
What’s up next?
We’re going into pre-production for a series called Cambion Chronicles where I play a half demon named Tessa Ford. Super speed, super strength. That story is interesting. There’s a lot of history at play. We shot the 12 minute short film in 2013 and we’re already sitting on almost 100,000 views on Youtube. It’s been a two year journey. We’ve done a lot of scenes in the Sterkfontein caves. I did all my own stunts. I did injure myself. I worked with the most incredible Russian fight trainer Vadim Dobrin. He was fantastic. He made sure that I was safe but I did injure my pelvis on one of those falls but I still managed to do a cave dive out. I love caving.
Who is producing it?
Fat Cigar. And it’s actually Zino Ventura who runs that company. He’s ex Mr South Africa and he’s also my co-star. It’s going to be awesome.
You were thinking of immigrating – where would you go? Probably America?
I’d love it. At first we thought about Canada. My brother lives there and my sister in law arranges a lot of the music events on Prince Edward Island. Then we thought about America because of where The Money Trail TV (TMTVSA) is going. The producer is actually in LA. TMTVSA is now on the rise. We’ve had over 20,000 hits and we’ve only just shot content for the entertainment channel. We’re a web channel so we are online and it’s the first of its kind in South Africa. My agent / manager Kimberley Stark of Stark Raving Management is the one heading it up in South Africa. She is so hands on and super aware of what is happening in my life. She literally takes care of everybody. At the moment we’re actually securing investors for TMTVSA but everybody is extremely excited about this project and they know how big it’s going to be.
What is TMTVSA about?
This is a whole new take on South African travel and entertainment. It’s 10 minutes an episode and that’s the difference. All the presenters have been handpicked. I’m in charge of the entertainment channel and I have a team of five with me. Those are the presenters that we send out and we get the job done. There is an aspect of gossip which is interesting, something I need to get used to but it’s another hat I’m wearing. As an actress I’m far deeper. But as a presenter you have to get into it. But if it’s news its interesting, that’s the human condition. And social media has changed the game. When I realised that the internet was my friend and I wasn’t so dead set against it, that was when my brand started growing. Everything is available. There’s a lot of information out there. I’ll never forget the first time I googled myself and all my songs came up and I realised people are downloading my music in places like Indonesia.
I suppose we’re all guilty of it, we go onto Youtube. But now that we’ve got ITunes –
It’s a challenge, I don’t think it’s a problem. What is right about it, is that now I know my music is accessible everywhere, so I’ll work on it from there. It increases reach and popularity. And last year I won an international award for best pop artist through the Love Music Awards, a UK based indie magazine. The support on the indie scene for indie music is ridiculous. There might not be money in it but there’s support. Since I won that award, my fan statistics have gone up by 1,000. Now the world is listening.
How do you get around piracy?
We finally went live onto iTunes last year. For me this is how I see it, if they want the real deal then they’ll buy it. If you want some cheap knock off – if you want the right quality to be playing it a club, then you need the right copy. And having it available on iTunes helps. What I did when I found out that my music was being pirated was make a couple of my tracks available free. Then, I’m not going to have somebody halfway around the world playing something that I did that is not of a good quality. Here’s my gift to you, the gift of music. The more popular I become the more people want the good quality recording. I can’t control what has happened to those tracks, but I can control the quality at which they are played.
And if they get played on radio, you get royalties
Royalties are so important. It’s been very hard for me to get onto South African radio stations and ever since I started focusing on the international market I’ve been a much happier artist. Five hours after it was released What You Waiting For was played by Krystal Radio in the UK. I’m not angry about it or upset about it. I know the game, I know that it’s hard to do this sort of thing. You need to know people and be connected. It’s all about who you know. I relaunched my career last year so I’m getting to know all these things, however now that I’ve got the international indie contacts, I’m very happy with that and I get a lot of rotation overseas. And now my world is so much bigger, I’m not so consumed by South Africa. Because it was really upsetting and very frustrating at first. At the moment I’m doing a few collaborations with Wired Sound Studios. We are back together again, they did the mixing on What You Waiting For.
I’m recording with them tomorrow and they have some nice radio contacts. So I’ll know where to go to from here. Especially when my album is ready. It’s not a denial of self or anything. I know my sound is changing. So that nobody is sitting there thinking she’s a dance artist, an EDM artist, now I know exactly where the sound is going. I am so comfortable with country. I feel like I’m finally writing my heart song, the melodies and the strumming and all of the things that are in my head. It’s your heart song.
I saw the Whitney Houston show, The Greatest Love of All, have you seen it?
With Belinda Davids? I saw the first one, Belinda is quite possibly one of the best vocalists we have in this country. How’s that part where Whitney’s in the red dress on the screen behind her? The likeness is ridiculous, every time I close my eyes it feels like Whitney is back. Definitely as an imitation artist Belinda is right on the money. Every singer I know will avoid the big artists specially for auditions, because if you don’t sound like them you don’t know what is going to happen. But Belinda nails it.
One of my celeb crushes, Zak Hendrikz, introduced me to you.
He is amazing and what incredible development. He’s been so amazing. How good was he in I Have Life? I was so scared. I was a little frightened, I asked him who are you going to play? One of the rapists? Because that was my first horror story. I was about nine years old when it happened and my parents didn’t want to explain all the way and I kept on saying why would they want to hurt the pretty lady and when I heard that Zak was cast I said to him I know you’re going to be great and you know how to debrief yourself, but you’re going to go to a dark place, but you’ll know how to pull yourself out of it. He has that kind of integrity, and is in a class of his own.
I don’t know if there’s anything else you’d want to add in? So you’re working in the four new songs and you’re on iTunes.
One thing you should probably know is that I have gone back to school. I’ve been accepted into an exclusive acting academy, the first of its kind. Led by the incomparable Steven Feinstein who used to run the Actors Centre back in the day, he has started this incredible project and I’ll be in class for the next five months. It is the most intense process I’ve ever gone through. I’ve been led to understand what people mean when they talk about trusting the process. Our showcase will happen in June.
I suppose that takes a bit of courage to do. What qualification do you come out with once you’ve done – ?
It is the bravest thing I’ve ever done. It’s not like we get a certificate or anything like that but for five months it is gruelling and incredible. The best experience. For me what I’d like to achieve is to be a better actress and person, because you need to know yourself to be a great actress. The academy is the first of its kind in South Africa. So far this has been an incredible process and he’s got us working with six incredible South African performers. Next weekend I’m working with Fiona Ramsay. Craig Freimond is one of the lecturers and he’s shooting two movies this year.
That’s incredible, you’re busy with all this work and studying, it’s a passion. If you’re that good and you are passionate you can succeed.
I’m lucky to be able to do it full time. It takes special people to be able to do this and not to let their ego take over. Look the ego in itself will always take things personally. You need to find your way around, you need to work on yourself as a person so that you’re not lost every time you’re doing this thing or pick up methods of self-sabotage. Nobody can beat you up like YOU can beat you up. It’s all about having a loving relationship with yourself. This is why I’m so grateful for the team that surrounds me. My singing lessons are with Adele Strombeck. She’s at thehelm of what my album is sounding like. As you have noticed I’ve got a great team of coaches with me. I’ve got Riaan, I’ve got Adele, now I have Steven, who is the most incredible man pushing me to become a better actress. And all the team that I’ve mentioned here. Then I’ve got Steven, this incredible man wanting me to be a better actress. When you’re in your 20s, you think you can do anything. There’s an element of immortality, you think you’re going to live forever. It’s that “do it yourself attitude”. And when you get to 30 you have to learn to trust others. The 20s were interesting, but I am ready for this. This is where it’s at. I’m not going to sweat the little things. Save your energy. I take time to enjoy the little things like spotting butterflies every single day.
You guys live on a farm outside of the city. Tell us about farm life.
The farm that we live on is completely off the grid and I have to say I don’t struggle with what half of my friends struggle with in the city, like power cuts. When I do experience it, it’s because the robots are out and then I sit in hours of traffic that I did not sign up for. But at home I can switch on the generator and I’m okay. When I have a farm day, that’s my writing day, I write at home. I don’t even realize that I don’t have electricity on, I’m forced to go outside and make up my music in the field. You can breathe more and you’re a lot more open. I’ve really chosen, I wouldn’t say the easiest way out, but definitely the better way out. I started horse-riding last year, and we’ve just today adopted a rescue dog. The relationship in the horse-riding is beautiful. It is that kind of connection, you are completely in sync with this gorgeous animal.
#CambionChronicles #SouthAfricanMusic #WhatYouWaitingFor