How did you manage to rebrand yourself after leaving the 999 music stable?
It was relatively easy. When I was at 999 I felt I wasn’t allowed to be me and do what I wanted to do in the music industry. I was constantly being dictated to and told there wasn’t a market for what I was trying to do. When I left I met up with people who shared my vision, and I was now able to pursue my dream and package it the way I wanted.
What was the worst thing about being at 999?
We were always on the verge of poverty. I wasn’t in an environment where I could grow as an individual. When a client booked me, the whole stable would go along and the money would be split. I wasn’t being respected as an artist.
Is there beef between you and Arthur Mafokate (999 music boss)?
I don’t make enemies, so when I bump into him we chat and talk about things in general.
Your album, Feel Good, is successful; how do you feel about that?
I call it a “loaded experience” because I never expected it to be this good. I’ve got fans from the ages of five to 65. Reaching so many people is satisfying.
You’re very careful about how you’re perceived.
I have an understanding of myself as a brand; I manage both the onstage and offstage Lira. My image is clean because I want to show girls, like my 12-year-old sister, that it’s possible to remain respectable within this industry.
Who do you look up to in the music industry?
I want to be where Yvonne Chaka Chaka is. I was overjoyed when I got to sing with her recently. She told me that she approves of me and that she was proud of what I do and how I’ve positioned myself. I wouldn’t have gotten that had I not left the 999 stable.
Your most bizarre performance yet?
I was once invited to perform at a school for the deaf. They couldn’t hear anything, and I don’t dance, so there was nothing in it for them. With millions of deaf people in SA, I now want to create an audio-visual experience that’ll include them as well.
When are you planning on releasing a follow-up album?
I had my heart set on September this year, but I think I need to have a break! Feel Good is still getting amazing coverage, so it feels like it’s too soon to put another one in the mix.
I wish late kwaito singer Zombo had reached out to me in his time of need. I feel I could have done something to help. We had a good relationship, but we lost contact when he got sick.
Why did you decide to go for a white guy?