Going against the mainstream concept of “cool,” Rilan is all about letting the inner you shine! He took some time to talk to us about his new, unapologetic pop song “Love or Drugs,” how he got started with music and what the world can look out for in the near future!
Hey Rilan, thanks so much for talking with us today! How did you get into music and when did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
I was always a theatre kid. Honestly, I still am. Whenever I feel like I don’t understand music anymore, I listen to old show-tunes. They reset me and remind me what real music sounds like. As I got older, though, I didn’t want to play a part anymore. I wanted to be an artist, not a puppet. I began writing songs on my piano without even knowing what I was doing. Eventually I realized songwriting was my truest form of self-expression and always had been. I must’ve been about 13 when I decided this is what I wanted to do with my life. The rest is history and a lot of hustle.
How would you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?
I make pop music for unpopular people. I’m unpopular. I’ve never been cool a day in my life, so what I do isn’t trendy. It’s not chill. It’s in your face electropop with a bit of darkness and a dash of theatre. It’s fun. It’s an experience. It won’t relax you or put you to sleep or calm you down. It will amp you up and make you dance, because in my opinion that’s what the world needs nowadays.
You charted on the Billboard Dance charts with “Blindfolds” feat. Naz Tokio; what was it like to see your name up there?
That was surreal. I never thought I’d see myself on any chart. Naz and I originally wrote that song for a DJ, but he ended up selling the instrumental track of the record, leaving our song floating around without production. Both Naz and I wrote for producer Dallas Austin at the time for ourselves and other artists’ projects, and when Dallas heard “Blindfolds,” he said it was too good to pass up. That was such a compliment. He and one of his production partners, Cory Enemy, reproduced the instrumental around our vocals and created the song as you hear it today. It was such a reassurance to have “Blindfolds” get another shot at life, let alone chart on Billboard. It was a passion project that ended up changing our lives. I’m very grateful for Dallas and Cory bringing that ditty back to life.
You also got the amazing chance to be a Warbler on Glee; what was it like working on the show?
I loved it. As a theatre kid, I grew up watching Glee. It was the only high school show where I saw myself in the characters. I wasn’t a jock or a prep or a cool kid. I was an artsy, misfit loner just like Rachel and Kurt and Tina. It was inspiring to see that on national television every week. It gave me hope. Of course, I always dreamed of being on the show like every other artsy kid, but I never thought it would happen. I actually auditioned for the show five times before I finally booked the job, and it really was a dream come true. The cast and crew were amazing. The rehearsals and shoots were grueling, but I loved every minute of those 18-hour days. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Besides the shooting process, the fans were the best part of the experience. They were just like me — misfits and outcasts and loners. I think that’s why they actually like my music. That’s who I am inside and out. I’m grateful for all of those fellow “Greeks” out there.
The new song and video for “Love or Drugs” just recently dropped; can you tell us a little about that song? Where did the inspiration for the lyrics come from? What kind of vibe does it have?
“Love or Drugs” is the opposite of a vibe. It’s an explosion. It’s an experience. It’s the unapologetic pop of yesteryear that I miss so much. It’s full of satire and shock value and ridiculousness just like I am onstage. It’s about why we go out — to fill something missing in our lives. Nowadays we’re so disconnected from life that [we] just want to feel something, be it a person or a substance, to feel alive again. I’ve never been much of a partier, mostly because I was never invited to a party growing up. That’s what the cool kids did and I was the furthest thing from “cool” in high school. “Love or Drugs” is my way of poking fun at the cool kids. I’m a weirdo and it’s time us weirdos take over the party for a change.
And the music video had great visuals as well! What message do you hope fans take away from it?
It’s a farce. It’s satire. It’s what the party would look like if we threw it instead of the popular kids. So let’s get working on it.
What was it like working with Richy Jackson on the new music video?
I love Richy. He’s my other brain. He’s so creative and truly understands the essence of pop music to its core. He just gets me and what I want to do and believes in it. He’s also the nicest, most humble choreographer I’ve ever worked with. I love him.
How would you say this song differs from your debut single, “Chemical?”
“Love or Drugs” is an introduction to my new music. It’s edgy and satirical and unapologetic, but it’s me. I’m making the music I’ve always wanted to make and I can’t wait to share with you guys.
What can fans look forward to in the future?
More music, more spectacle, more explosions, more fire, more glitter, more craziness and more fun.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Get ready world. I’m coming for you.
Take a look at the “Love or Drugs” music video below!
Featured Image: Swishcraft Music