Rilan is an eclectic electro-pop artist, singer, and songwriter from New Orleans, now based in Los Angeles. A self-confessed outsider, Rilan wears his inability to fit in as a badge of honor. Bathed in a glow of laser-hued neon, decked out in futuristic high fashion, and magnifying the pleasures of party culture only to incinerate them, he carries on traditions set forth by Lady Gaga and Freddie Mercury with his own style, spirit, and soul. He speaks directly to the outcasts and the “weird kids” and throws them the kind of party you plan for the end of the world. As the Mad Hatter of his own private and provocative Wonderland, Rilan’s 2019 latest single “Love or Drugs” extends an invitation to a kingdom where a new sort of “cool” reigns. His latest single recently went to #2 on Billboard’s Club Songs Breakout Chart and even debuted on Billboard’s main Dance Club Song Chart at #48.
From his message of individuality and embracing your “weird” to his tongue-in-cheek, 80s-inspired glam-pop sound, at CelebMix, we had a chat about with Rilan about his music, creativity, inspirations, fans and much more. Check it out all below.
Hi Rilan. Welcome to CelebMix. So excited to be chatting with you. You’ve just released your new single ‘Love or Drugs’ and I must say, it’s very catchy. What do you think of your new sizzling release doing great on the charts?
Thank you so much. It makes me so happy, which is a new feeling for me. I usually thrive on my dreariness, but it’s a welcomed change.
Tell us more about ‘Love or Drugs’. How did you come up with the song’s idea? Is there any personal inspiration behind the song?
“Love or Drugs” is a satire of party culture and what it means to be cool. I’m not cool. I’m not a partier. I was never invited to a single party in high school, college, or even LA when I moved here. I’ve been the outcast my whole life, but as I got older, I realize I like it that way. I like being the weirdo. Why be normal when you can be different? To me, different is cool. Cool is not sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Cool is rock’n’roll. It’s the attitude. It’s being a superstar even when you’re not. I’m bringing that back to pop music.
How was the writing and recording process? Do you have a creative say in your music?
I have a creative say in everything I do. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think I see things a little differently than the normal human. I don’t like to live in reality. Most of my time is spent in my own pop paradise in my head. Whenever I write something new, I’m bringing a different part of my inner world to life for this world to see. I always dive head first into my music, starting with an idea and moving into the melody and lyrics and production as that idea takes shape. It’s a collaborative process with everyone I work with, but I always like to start with a concept told through the eyes of a weirdo because that’s who I am.
You also have an EP coming out in summer. Can you spill more details on what your fans can look forward to the rest of the year?
It’s a collection of antisocial pop bops. I see everything I write as a part of something bigger than itself. It’s just a piece of the puzzle that makes up a greater work, so putting all of these musical pieces together is the best feeling in the world. I’m excited to share it with you guys soon.
Talking about the music video for this track, who came up with the concept- ‘Weird’ is the new ‘cool’? How was your experience of filming?
I did. I conceptualize all of my videos. Then I collaborate with directors and producers who believe in my crazy ideas and can make them come to life on screen. I worked with two fantastic directors, Nicole “Nick” Alexander, and Collier Landry. They had great ideas that elevated my own and really captured the essence of the party I’ve never been to. They were a dream to work with. We literally just threw a party with my friends on a roof from 6:00 P.M. to 6:00 A.M. We all just tried to out-weird each other for twelve hours, and what you see today is what that looked like.
Were their artists you idolized while growing up and have those influences since changed?
I loved David Bowie, Prince, and Madonna. I still do. What they did for music and pop culture completely changed the game. Those are the artists I admire – the game changers. We’re all trying to reinvent the musical wheel. The artists that inspire me are the ones who throw out the wheel and build a spaceship instead. Out-of-the-box is the best place to be if you ask me. I love pop, but I’m also inspired by industrial music by darker artists like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. At the same time, I find myself using elements of my favorite musicals, like “Cabaret” and “Chicago,” in both my songs and my visuals. I’m all over the place and completely focused at the same time. It sounds like a contradiction, but that’s what I am. I’m an anti-socialite. I’m an unpopular pop star.
In what way has your personal music taste which you’ve grown up with, inspired your music style and creativity today?
I find now more than ever that what I loved as a kid is what I do best. I grew up on 80s electropop and musical theatre, and that’s what my music is nowadays. It’s theatrical synth pop with a darker twist thanks to my teenage love of Hot Topic. Also, music isn’t the only thing that inspires me. I love fashion and design. I love renaissance art and world history. I love horror movies and anything that goes bump in the night. Inspiration comes from everywhere. You just have to open your mind to see it.
Tell us one special moment that’s memorable to you?
I don’t think I’ve really had that one moment yet. I do find it surreal sometimes that I work with Richy Jackson. I mean, he’s Lady Gaga’s choreographer for Christ’s sake. I grew up watching him dance and create with her since I was in middle school. I used to pull up their live performances on YouTube, turn my laptop around, and watch them through the mirror in order to learn the choreography properly. It’s crazy to think that years later he’d be working with me. It’s a dream come true that I never thought possible, but it did, and it works so well.
Your audience is crazy about your music. How do you feel about all the love and support you get from your fans around the world? Do you have a message for them?
The best feeling in the world is hearing that someone felt something from your music. It could be any emotion – happiness, sadness, understanding, whatever. The fact that someone felt something from what you had to say is all you can ask for as an artist. Music is a connection more than anything. It’s the commonality between different people that brings us together without losing our uniqueness. The people that like my music doesn’t all look alike. They don’t all act alike. If anything, they’re all very different from one another. I love that. I want to have an army full of individuals, not a clique of identical wannabes, fill an arena and sing my songs back to me. That’s my dream – to create a space where weird is cool and differences are celebrated. I can’t wait for us to get weird together all over the world.
What is it like performing live in front of your fans who are cheering there loud for you? Are you excited to hit the road and be able to perform your own music?
Performing is my favorite part of my job. I’m a performer first and foremost. I’m a theatre kid, so it’s what I do best. I’ll perform anywhere for anyone, but to perform for people who listen to my music and like it and sing it back to me is the best feeling in the world. It makes all the hard work worth it. I’m ready to hit the road all over this planet, but I won’t stop there. The universe is my real goal, but until space travel becomes more cost-effective, I’ll focus on Earth.
Who are your favorite artists currently from the music business that you wish to work with?
I love Lady Gaga. I always have and always will. She’s the real deal. Nowadays, the new artists who excite me are all very different. For example, I’m a fan of Kim Petras and her shamelessly catchy pop, but I’m also a fan of YUNGBLUD and his nuvo-grunge production and dark sense of style. Right now though, I’m pretty bored with music in general. I’m looking to change that myself quite soon.
Can we hope for any music collaborations in the near future?
Yes. Every day I write with at least three of my multiple personalities. Most of my songs feature two or more of the voices in my head. We all work well together.
Well, that’s a smart answer Rilan. How will you describe your music and yourself together in three words?
Weird, fun, and unapologetic. My music is the best version of me even when I don’t feel like myself.
This is the era of social media and technology where you’re connected to everyone globally 24/7. How do you think it’s affecting the music and an artist’s popularity these days?
Social media is killing music. It’s replaced gut reaction and instinctual attraction with cold calculation and number games. Statistics is the new X factor. It’s killing artists. It’s making normal famous and talent commonplace. It scolds you for being original and praises you for being like everyone else. Real artists who’ve worked their entire lives on one dream are being replaced by people who take pictures in their bedroom for a living and never even thought of pursuing a career in music until they’re offered a multimillion-dollar contract simply because they have followers. Artists used to be famous for their music. Now you have to be famous before you can even make music, let alone release it. It’s infuriating and makes me feel like there’s no point in doing this anymore. But then when someone connects to just one word from one of my songs, it makes it all worth it. It’s the actual individual, not the fabrication people think they are, that matters. Those are the people I do this for. Those are the people that get me. Now it’s time for us to take over the world.
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