Former ‘Idols SA’ contestant Lloyiso becomes 1st SA artist signed to Republic Records
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Fans will remember Lloyiso (previously Loyiso) Gijana from season 11 of “Idols SA” in 2015. At 16, he made the top 5.
Although he didn’t go further, he left an indelible impression with his powerful voice.
Now, the 22-year-old, who is now simply known as Lloyiso, is about to make his presence felt on a global stage after being signed up by Universal Music Group South Africa and Republic Records in the US.
Not just that, he is the first South African artist to sign to Republic Records.
Welcoming Lloyiso to the label, Republic Records Executive Vice President of A&R, Brett Alperowitz, commented: “Lloyiso has all the makings of a career superstar — knock out vocals, incredible song-writing, and an amazing story to tell. He’s the rare talent who not only transcends genres but crosses borders as well.”
When I called him to chat about this life-changing opportunity, he was excited and somewhat speechless at the same time.
This is what he’s been waiting for.
He admitted: “I’m still trying to make sense of it all.”
Of course, he’s been working towards this, even if he didn’t realise it several years back, for a while now.
For those confused by the additional “L” in his name, he explained: “I’ve been trying to do it for a couple of years now. I wanted my name to be different from all the other talented Loyiso’s.”
To put fans in the picture on his journey, after Idols SA, he returned to high school.
In 2018, he enrolled to study education. But several weeks into his course, he quit. The call to music proved too strong, especially after Ambitiouz Entertainment signed him up.
A month later, he moved to Joburg, released a few singles and, in the past year, blew up on social media. He has 1.4 million
TikTok Followers, 230k YouTube Subscribers and 264k Instagram followers.
Interestingly, it was his TikTok videos that put him on the map, so to speak. He joined in June/July last year.
“I didn’t expect it. I think TikTok opened a lot of doors, internationally, for people. That’s really, really great.
“On TikTok, you have a lot of reach; you reach international people, record labels.
“I don’t know the full story of how they (Republic Records) found me online but I know it’s through my viral videos and one of my covers, ’If I Die Young’.”
He lists Idols SA as one of the biggest highlights in his career, with his current sign-up, understandably, being his crowning glory moment.
He chuckled, recalling his audition, where he skipped school, hopped on a train from Uitenhage to Port Elizabeth, and ended up getting four yeses.
Even though he didn’t win, like former “Idols SA” contestants Shekhinah and Lloyd Cele, he pursued his passion and carved out his own path.
What most fans don’t know is that when he was 14, Lloyiso auditioned for “SA’s Got Talent”.
“I made it to the TV round, but they never showed my audition,” he shared.
Unlike some artists who find themselves tied down by their current label, Lloyiso got the full blessing from Ambitiouz Entertainment.
He confirmed: “The label head was all for it. We negotiated something. I was happy about that.
“It was such a smooth transition because both the label head and I understood that there was a bigger vision in my music career. It was really helpful.”
At the moment, Lloyiso is busy sorting out his visa for the big move. There is no set date, and he has yet to confirm where he will be based in the US.
But the one thing he is certain about is the sound of his debut album.
Fluent in English and isiXhosa, he draws his influences from Sam Smith, Drake, Frank Ocean, Jennifer Hudson and Beyoncé.
He added: “That’s how I’m able to be versatile with my music.”
As for his sound, he shared: “My sound is vulnerable and raw. Lot of emotions. I think very versatile.
“I could go in and switch it up and do hip hop and house. I could do RnB. I could do soul.
“The most important thing, the foundation in my music, is the emotions and being able to reach the heart and for people to be able to see my soul.
“A lot of people have been asking about an album. I am finally ready to release something so solid. It’s definitely going to be a love story.
There’s going to be a lot of pain, raw emotion and experiences. I think it is going to be a very heartfelt album.”
As for how his greatest support - his mum - has taken the news, he said: “She cried when I told her I got singed.
“She was like, ‘Oh my God, this is what you always wanted’. She always supported me.
“This is a victory for both of us. And my name means victory, so I’m living up to my name.”
His debut single, “Seasons”, is available on all digital streaming platforms.