International musician, Dennis Lloyd, is actually an Israeli marketing genius

Written by
Noa Bonné

How did Nir Tibor from Tel Aviv turn into Dennis Lloyd, an international musician and producer whose last single got millions of hits and whose tickets are sold out in an hour? The road passes through Bangkok, Rome and another Israeli musician, Nathan Goshen


"I need to know when the article is coming out," says 23 year-old Dennis Lloyd, as we sit down at a cafe for an interview. Although he's going to be travelling in two days to meet with record labels in the United States and Italy, he sports a calm, playful expression, like a child during summer vacay. "There's just another media outlet that wants to interview me," he says, using the oldest trick in the book. Who is trying to get his hands on the phenomenon known as Dennis Lloyd? The Israeli international pop-funk- electro musician, producer and trumpeter's last single, 'Nevermind', has already garnered four million hits on Spotify. He has appeared on the German 'Colors' Youtube channel with the single 'Leftovers' (at half a million views) and his performance at Haoman 17 was sold out within an hour.

"What other media outlet?" I keep my cool.

"Vanity Fair Italy," he says with a shrug. The air leaves my lungs. And indeed, in recent weeks Lloyd's remix to 'Nevermind' has been smashing the music and radio channels in the boot country. In Israel, on the other hand, despite all the buzz on social networks, he receives little attention on the radio and the local media.

© Bar Cohen

Why remix yourself? Don't you usually wait for someone else to do it?

"It is all thanks to the internet and Nathan Goshen. My mom gave me an article about how some kid in Denmark made a remix for Goshen's song, and it was going crazy around the world with 90 million hits on Spotify. So I remixed my own song and it worked. No one knows I did it, most people do not know that I'm producing it myself from the beat stage to the master, recording background sounds and managing myself and my marketing from A to Z. "

The ambiguity is what makes Lloyd such a successful product. He was born as Nir Tibor and grew up in Ramat Aviv, a surprising trivia detail for many of his local admirers who mistakenly think that he is a foreign musician who is just very fond of Israel. At the age of 8, he started to play the trumpet. At the age of 13, he taught himself to play guitar and from there went to the Thelma Yellin Art School in Giv'atayim. He decided on the name Dennis Lloyd after searching the internet to find something catchy to serve as an international stage name that would give his audience the feeling that they've heard it before.

The anonymous past preoccupies Tibor even as his career develops rapidly. "The amount of haters I had in school at Thelma Yellin..." he trails off. "I never learned to sing, and I was insecure on a different level. At the age of 15, I bought a USB microphone on a trip to the United States with my family, and that was my first recording studio. Thelma Yellin is a tough school, especially when you know that you are being laughed at behind your back. Eight years ago I was in high school and people told me not to sing. If I would have listened to them, I would not be here," he says. "There is power in music, certainly when an audience starts to show up and you have the option to send good messages."

© Bar Cohen

You must know this, you came from the world of the internet.

"Yes, but I have no idea how that happened. I don't even have Spotify. Last January, I was flooded with emails and phone calls from so many people in the music industry. I asked everyone how they reached me and everyone answered the same answer: "Spotty." When I asked a representative from Sony Records he replied, 'Man, you have half a million hits, where have you been?' YouTube channels with millions of followers ask to share my songs. My mother, who lives in Colombia, heard the song in a gym in Bogota. It's crazy!"

It sounds like every musician's dream.

"Yes, but I don't know how I feel about it ... Maybe I haven't digested it yet. Meanwhile, I don't spend the money. I live in a rented apartment in Ramat Gan. Laura and I (Lloyd's Colombian girlfriend, and the stills photographer for his concerts) are planning to move to Eilat next year."

Eilat? You're not considering moving abroad?

"I got some offers. The Italians say, 'come to Rome', the Americans say, 'come to Los Angeles'. What difference does it make where I live? Everything is on the internet. I can live here and create content as if I am there. The fact that I manage myself gives me full control over my life. Laura and I are planning a trip to Columbia in November for a long time, and I don't want people to tell me 'you have to be interviewed there, you have to appear there'. I've been offered to do a tour in Germany. I told them to talk to me in March. You have to have a life, otherwise you lose it. "

© Lior Sukenik

Let's talk about the industry in Israel. What do you think you have done differently than so many other talented musicians who also manage themselves and create in the same genre?

"I have nothing to say about the music of others because it's a matter of taste ... The problems of artists in Israel is the branding and the lack of understanding the business side of it. Music is a business, and patience and planning are the tools. Israeli artists are touring in Poland or Germany, and when you think about it, there is something connected to the Jewish community. I told a friend who has a habit of performing for free to stop doing it, because when you perform in a venue and ask for NIS 50-70 for a ticket, people say 'okay, there's something here.' When I returned to Israel after a year of living in Thailand, I gave a few small shows for free knowing that I had more audience than a place to hold it. After that, I decided to stop performing for free and understood the idea of supply and demand. The show at Haoman is the fourth one of my shows to sell out within an hour.

"At the end of the day, I earn a living by creating music and not sharing it with anyone because I am my own master. I know my worth. It's a big gamble to come to a record label and tell them 'Put me in first place,' but it's a gamble that I'm willing to take because I understand that I am something different and I want to sit with all the big ones.

"When I was 21, I lived in Thailand for a year in an apartment without internet, surrounded by recording equipment, and I created the music I wanted to hear without distractions from the outside. I had 40 finished songs on the phone and I was dying to release them, but I knew I had to wait. Big label people contact me, and I always ask them the same question: 'What can you give me that I can't already do for myself?' "

And what about the other influencing factors in the industry?

"Before it all blew up, I sent 'Nevermind' to a well-known radio broadcaster, and he did not even answer my message, and when I started to be played on the radio elsewhere, he invited me to be a guest on the show, and I refused. It's tragic that an Israeli artist gets more love abroad than in his own country. No one wants to be the first to play something."

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