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Dilana My Drug [single]

Dilana: My Drug“Dilanas darkly delectable rock is
  giving the music business something
  to shout about as this unique young
  woman uses her no-holds-barred
  approach to get you hooked on her
  great new single, My Drug

SOUTH AFRICAN ROOTS and a unique delivery are all Dilana needs to create her own dynamic sound as her debut UK single My Drug thrusts itself onto the music scene with seemingly endless momentum.

The publicity machine has got it succinctly by noting: "A spirit of weapons-grade defiance defines Dilana's character and informs her music: a fearless collision of Velvet Revolver-style gutter-punk swagger and surging stadium pop" which is best evidenced by her first single, Holiday, where she sings with attitude: Shove this life in your face/Gonna give you a taste. And "A leather-lunged antidote to the male-dominated, guitar-band zeitgeist, the song is Dilana's personality distilled into four speaker-rattling minutes."

Having performed with the likes of Aerosmith and Velvet Revolver, Dilana can number a string of high-profile rock legends among her admirers — from Queen's Brian May to Motley Crue's Mick Mars and Tommy Lee. Apparently No Doubt drummer Adrian Young was so blown away that he signed up to play on Dilana's album Darklight that was produced by Dave Bassett and mixed by Brian Malouf.

The first taster of Darklight is the three-minute rock tornado My Drug, a song that is rich with the trademark take-no-prisoners guitar and vocal style of this leather-lunged, ultra charismatic South African musician. Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Dilana says: "My Drug is my rock and roll anthem for anyone who has ever been passionately addicted to another person."

The ultimate rock chick, Dilana bursts forth into the limelight with a 'get me noticed' kind of determined confidence that leaves nothing to chance. My Drug is certainly addictive; a cultivated chaos of great rock instrumentals shot through with Goth and a sensuous vocal Di-light that leaves you breathless. Dilana is… Dilana.

Unique and with the kind of grit that gives her a potent delivery, Dilana has been described as a diminutive powerhouse with an iron clad will. She played at The International London Tattoo Convention in September and explains in her robust, Jack Daniels and Marlborough-infused rasp (think Stevie Nicks with a South African accent): "I have a lot of tattoos, but the one running down my spine is my favourite. It basically describes my entire life story in one word — it spells Survivor."

The tattoo is barely visible beneath Dilana's kaleidoscopic curtain of waist-length hair but the ornate tangle of three Japanese letters, inscribed in painstaking calligraphy, is clearly important to her.

Dilana has two watchwords: Determination and Survival, which stood her in good stead when she nearly lost her life as she was hurled from her customised Harley Davidson on a rain-soaked freeway near her then-home in Houston, Texas, in June 2004. Riding without a helmet, she sustained multiple fractures. "It took me six months to recover," she says, "but I'm still here."

Larger than life and armed with those watchwords and a tremendous voice, Dilana would be pleased to know that it would be a brave man who'd bet against her succeeding — Success is well within her sights and she feels it, too.

No doubt it was this armour-plated self belief that struck a chord with the eight million people who tuned in each week to watch Dilana on the hit US reality TV show Rock Star: Supernova in the summer of 2006. The reason they kept voting for her (she ended up coming second, narrowly side-stepping the job of fronting a supergroup formed by Motley Crue's Tommy Lee, Metallica's Jason Newsted and Guns 'N' Roses Gilby Clarke) was simple: unlike the show's other over-styled contestants, Dilana had Soul — and it wasn't just US TV viewers who recognised her charismatic stage presence.

Dilana's impassioned cover versions helped to keep the Rock Star: Supernova ratings sky high, but it was her own material — in particular, the self-penned empowerment anthem SuperSoul — that forged an intimate, uniquely emotional relationship with her burgeoning fanbase.

"People thank me for that song on a daily basis," Dilana explains. "One guy contacted me through Myspace and said that on the night I sang SuperSoul he had a loaded gun and a fistful of pills, ready to kill himself. Then he watched me perform and he changed his mind. Basically that song changed his entire life."

Years ago, friends gave Dilana the nickname "Caz-meleon" — partly because of Caz, the band she fronted at the time but primarily because of her chameleon-like ability to modulate her voice and appearance at will and also to juggle multiple disciplines. In addition to her music career, Dilana is a skydiver, a body mods obsessive with sixteen piercings (and counting) and she's even got her own feature film, a clothing line and her works.

In addition, she's also a dedicated philanthropist who works closely with Autism charity The Lily Claire Foundation and Safe Passage, a body set up to support abused women and children. Furthermore, Dilana channels hundreds of fan donations through Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Bono's RED Foundation.

Dilana's story begins in Johannesburg, South Africa. She left home at 15 to start singing in a travelling duo, which eventually bloomed into a fully fledged band called Wozani (a Zulu word meaning 'Come and Join'). Cruelly, the political and cultural strictures of apartheid-era South Africa meant that rock stardom remained an impossibly distant dream.

"Growing up in Johannesburg we had all these boycotts and sanctions," explains Dilana. "It meant there was no outlet for music." But a lifeline came in 1996, when an independent Dutch label offered Dilana a record deal and in Holland she spent a fruitful three years touring the country with Caz, becoming one of the country's highest paid performers.

An ill-starred love affair occasioned a further move, first to Aberdeen, then to Houston, Texas, where the relationship collapsed but her career as a solo star sky-rocketed. "Between 2003 and 2006 I toured the states as the Dilana One-chick Show, playing mainly covers," she recalls with pride. "I played everywhere — corporate events, steakhouses, private parties, four to five nights a week, four hours each night. It was hard work but incredibly fun and rewarding."

Her big break, however, came in February 2008 when, after the madness of Rock Star: Supernova had subsided, Dilana was snapped up by Hurricane Music Group — the label set up by veteran music industry executive Alex Roberts. Under his guidance she was able to take her time over her first album for the label. "I didn't want to be seen as the Rock Star Supernova chick," she says. "I needed time to be creative."

Now a permanent resident of Los Angeles, Dilana's ultimate goal, once the album emerges, is to conquer Europe and beyond — she even plans to tour her native South Africa, for the first time since she left.

Having stunned America, Dilana headed for Britain. Her tour started with a run of dates in London that included a gig at the Harley Night at the Infamous Ace Café and took in the Duke Of Wellington at Neath and also Stoke, Runcorn, Manchester and Bristol.

The first taster of Darklight is the three-minute rock tornado of My Drug, a song that is rich with the trademark take-no-prisoners guitar and vocal style of this leather-lunged, ultra charismatic South African musician. Ambitious? Absolutely — after all, she is a Survivor.

Dilana's debut UK single My Drug is released on 13 October (2008) on Hurricane Music Group.

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"My Drug is certainly addictive; a cultivated chaos of great rock instrumentals shot through with Goth and a sensuous vocal Di-light that leaves you breathless. Dilana is… Dilana" — MotorBar