I got the chance to interview Rilan, an eclectic Electro-Pop artist and songwriter from New Orleans now based in Los Angeles. We talked music (including his current single ‘Money Talk’, creativity, influences, and more. Check it all out below …
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: You got invited to perform at Style Fashion Week LA and NYC. What was that experience like?
RILAN: It was surreal. I love fashion. I see it as a tool to elevate your music from audio to a full multidimensional experience. All of my biggest musical inspirations used fashion as an extension of their performances, from Bowie to Prince to Madonna to Gaga. It was great to showcase my music on such a unique stage and to see my designs on runway. I make most of the costumes for my dancers and me myself, and Style Fashion Week NYC also allowed me to showcase some of my original jacket designs. Pretty surreal.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What are some of your favourite lyrics you’ve written? Which lyrics were the hardest to write?
RILAN: Some of my favorite lyrics are from the chorus of my last single, “MoneyTalk.” I wrote it about how much I hate social media. It distorts our perception of real beauty and fantasy. The chorus says, “It’s a sad, sad city when you’re not that pretty,” and that’s exactly how I felt living in LA about a year ago. Everyone’s flawless, but none of it’s real. I always find I’m much better at writing when I’m pissed or depressed. I’m bad at happy. It’s the emo kid in me.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Do you have any fun rituals that you do before a performance?
RILAN: Honestly, I’m a pacer. I can’t sit still before I go on stage and always look for something to do. Usually it’s fixing costumes or making last minute changes to outfits, but it’s always something.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Where do you draw your biggest inspirations and influences from?
RILAN: I love fashion. I love the 80s and the decade’s idea of what the future would look like, from movies like Tron and Bladerunner and Aliens. I love horror movies, good or bad, and the paranormal. Anything creepy inspires me. So mix that up together with pop music and you get this weirdo.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Do you have any dream collaborations?
RILAN: To be honest I already work with my dream collaborator, Richy Jackson. I admired him so much for his dancing and choreography for Gaga growing up, and the fact that I get to work with him on my own music is still a dream come true.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Did you always want to be a Singer-Songwriter? Can you remember the first time you wrote a song? What was it like?
RILAN: I always knew I wanted to be a performer. I grew up in musical theatre, but when I was about 13 I realized I wanted to sing my own words instead of somebody else’s. I fooled around on the piano until it sounded something like a song and started writing and never really looked back. My first work was a cheesy mess of a piano ballad called “Runaway.” I still remember every word and every chord, but it will never see the light of day. Over my dead body.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Can you tell me more about the recording and writing process for “Moneytalk”? Also about the music video as well?
RILAN: “MoneyTalk” is a satire. Social media has completely distorted our perception of beauty, Hollywood promotes it, and because of it living in LA sometimes sucks. People are shallow and fame is fleeting and everything and you can get a twisted sense of reality if you believe all the bullshit surrounding you. “MoneyTalk” is what Hollywood looks like to me nowadays. It’s fantastical and exaggerated and ridiculous. People’s body proportions are cartoonish, their facial features are insane, and everyone buys into it. It makes you feel hideous. The song and the video were my way of getting out my frustrations with the world around me.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What was it like collaborating with Lady Gaga Creative Director, Richy Jackson? How did that come about?
RILAN: I met him two and half years ago when I was gearing up for a performance at LA Pride. I’d always choreographed everything myself before then. I was hesitant to work with someone else because I always knew exactly what I wanted my shows to look like from start to finish, and I feared another creative would try to change me, but Richy was totally different. He was unlike anyone else I had ever worked with before. He totally understood my weirdness and my quirks and my inspirations. It was a dream come true honestly. Since then we’ve worked on every one of my projects together. He’s a miracle worker. I love him.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Why Electro-pop? What drew you to that genre in particularly?
RILAN: I grew up with 80s music. I listened to my mom and dad’s favorites as a kid – Madonna, Bowie, Prince, Cher, the greats. As I got older, I discovered darker pop and industrial music. I fell in love with Soft Cell, Tears For Fears, and later Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson all while still involved in theatre and dance. I think the combination of all of these different influences led me to want to create the music I make now. It’s a little dark, it’s a bit of retro theatre, it’s a lot of dance, and it’s all brought to life best on stage.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What artists or bands have been ‘On Repeat’ for you currently? Who have you been listening to lately?
RILAN: To be frank, I don’t really listen to anything current. I love pop music, and it feels like pop music has disappeared. I don’t think it’s dead. It will never die, but it’s certainly not around right now, and I can’t stand it. My mission is to bring it back. Until then, I listen to pop albums from yesteryear like Madonna’s “Immaculate Collection,” Gaga’s “The Fame,” Britney’s, “In The Zone,” Marina And The Diamond’s “Electra Heart,” and Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill.” And then there’s my out of the box everyday favorites like Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars,” Prince’s “Controversy,” and Nine Inch Nails’ “A Downward Spiral.”
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER:
And what’s next for Rilan?
RILAN: Right now I’m writing a lot of new music that I’m excited about. I’m working a with some new people creatively and strategically as well. There are lots of things on the table, and I’m looking forward to all of them. I can’t wait to share what we’ve been brewing.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Anything else you would like to add?
RILAN: Thanks for caring about pop music.
Stream ‘Money Talk’ here:
Follow Rilan on Instagram here