Dennis Lloyd is an international musical sensation, whose hit single ‘Nevermind’ has been streamed some 500 million times on Spotify.
He’s also actually Nir Tibor, a 26-year-old who grew up in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan and up until three years ago was unknown outside his home country.
But now he’s one of the hottest names in world music, with his song topping charts and performances drawing audiences around the world.
The multi-instrumentalist told Israel’s Channel 12 news on Friday success caught him by surprise, when he was deep in debt and working in a falafel shop.
After his military service, Lloyd said, he moved to Bangkok, Thailand for a year to focus on his music. He started putting materials on YouTube.
“I packed my bags and I moved to Bangkok, Thailand,” he told Forbes earlier this year. “I spent a year there like completely isolated, no Wi-Fi. I wanted to find my sound, and for one year, I just like made music. That’s it.”
“I’d think of how to widen my audience and get to more people. Every day I’d send some 5-10 emails,” he told Channel 12.
But after returning to Israeli and finding little success, he started working at a local falafel place. “I needed money, I needed to pay my rent.”
One day, “I woke up and saw an email from a record company. I think it was Warner or Sony or something, and I was like ‘What?’ And suddenly two hours later [I got] another email, and in the evening another email. That week I got 14 emails and suddenly I’m in talks with Berlin and New York and the whole world.
“And then I had to stop for a moment and ask them: ‘How did you find me?’ And they said ‘Open Spotify.’ I opened it and suddenly I saw ‘Nevermind’ had some half million streams, it was trending, it was in the viral chart, all of that, all over the world. I had no idea!”
Lloyd was not very well known in Israel when he became a global star, and has only recently started to become recognized in his home country. He enjoys his relatively anonymous life as Nir Tibor, and told Channel 12 he had no current plans to move abroad.
“I love my family, my friends, the hummus, the sea, everything. It’s good here,” he said. He’s also taken some of those friends with him as he’s toured around the world, with musician schoolmates joining him on the road.
Lloyd said a lot of Israelis do not know he’s local and are shocked to find out. but he does not try to hide it.
As for why he has been so successful on the world stage where other Israeli musicians have failed, Lloyd said only: “I think I’m just being me.”
He added that he was committed to breaking the glass ceiling for Israeli artists.
“I signed at Sony and suddenly they’ve started to take an interest in Israeli musicians and to listen more, and I send them stuff. It’s very important for me to open that window for Israelis.
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