Hi Rilan, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thank you. I’ve been great. Just working and avoiding the real world as much as possible. How have you been?
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Love or Drugs”?
“Love or Drugs” is fun, energetic, electro pop full of sarcasm and satire. It’s what I do best: pop with a tongue-in-cheek darkness. It’s catchy and superficial on the surface, but when you dive in you find that it’s a commentary on the world we live in. That’s what all of my music is. It’s a commentary.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
My entire life inspired me. I’ve never been cool. I’m the weird kid. I’m the loner. I always have been, and I always will be. I wasn’t invited to a single party in high school, and while I thought that would change once I made it to Hollywood, I was wrong. Hollywood is high school all over again. It’s full of cliques, and your importance is judged by your popularity. Social media has exacerbated that. Hollywood used to be about sex and drugs and rock’n’roll. Now the rock’n’roll has been forgotten. You’re left with meaningless debauchery. That’s what “Love or Drugs” is about. It’s making fun of what the cool kids think is cool when in reality, it’s not.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
It was great. I worked with Nicole “Nick” Alexander and Collier Landry to bring my insanity to life, and they really did make my dreams a reality. I had every scene in my head, and they connected the dots. We threw the coolest party I’ve never been to from 6PM to 6AM on the coldest night LA has ever seen. It was a perfect disaster, and I loved every minute of it.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote “Love or Drugs” with Krysta Youngs and Davy Nathan a while back. We started with the title and the concept, then a baseline, and eventually Krysta and I were just singing the song as you hear it today. It was very natural and organic. In fact, I’ve written a lot of my new material with Krysta. She’s a unicorn. She gets me. After writing the song, I recorded around 100 different vocal tracks that are all layered into what you hear today. My inspiration was if Queen did pop. Freddie Mercury is usually my vocal inspiration. He always has been, even before the Bohemian Rhapsody movie introduced him to Gen Z.
What was it like to work with Randy Jackson and how did that relationship develop?
Randy is the best. I met him a few years back through my writing partner at the time, Naz Tokio. We stayed in contact, but late last year I played him some of my new material on a whim, and he understood it. A lot of people I’ve worked with have seemed put off by my music. They say it’s too edgy, too dark, too theatrical, too conceptual, and not trendy enough. I was always too much of this and not enough to that. Randy said the exact opposite. He loved my weirdness. It was so refreshing to hear. Since then, he’s been my personal champion, and I’m forever grateful.
How much has he influenced your career and music?
I value his opinion more than anyone’s. He’s not only a legend in music; he was around when music executives actually understood music. Nowadays, most A&R’s at major labels just read statistics. They sign artists based on their numbers, not their art. He sees my vision and believes in it. It’s the best compliment I could ever receive.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than working on your own?
I used to. I used to be reserved when collaborating with others. I would let them get out their ideas before my own and willingly try melodies and lyrics I wouldn’t usually sing. I wanted to be accommodating. Nowadays, I’m just honest. I come into a session with an unapologetic idea of exactly what I want to write and how I want it to sound. I’m always open to suggestions, and my co-writers offer great alternatives to my original ideas, but when I feel strongly about something, I speak up now. I think the most important thing an artist can be is authentic. We live in an age of mimicry. I don’t want to be like anyone else. I want to be me, no matter how weird I am.
What role does LA play in your music?
LA has influenced all of my music since I moved here five years ago. It’s the lens through which I live my life, both musically and personally. I miss satire in art, and LA is the subject of my sarcasm. I rebel against the norm and make fun of the cool kids in my music. LA is a never-ending source of infuriating ridiculousness, and while I hate what it’s become, I plan on exposing it, burning it to the ground, and rebuilding it as my own version of Hollyweird through my music. I hate reality. I’m here to offer you a fantasy world where weird is cool and cool is nowhere to be found.
What is it about the 80s that you find so fascinating?
It was outrageous. It was a show. It was a decade of dreams and futurism and fashion and awe. Granted, I wasn’t there, but that’s what it is to me. I want to recreate that excitement in music today. Everything is chill and vibey now. I hate it. It’s boring and apathetic. I’m neither of those things. I’m insane, so I’m bringing insanity back to pop music.
How much of this decade you always seek to capture with your music?
My mind lives in the 80s. My fantasy world is somewhere between Tron, the Goblin King’s Labyrinth and the “Thriller” music video. It’s futuristic and magical and haunted all at once. Just stick around. You’ll see some spectacle from me soon.
How do you go on marrying your classic background with your much modern influences?
I think that’s what artists do. They study the greats, not the trends, and use their knowledge of history to create inspired art for their generation. I’m not a hip-hop dancer. I’m trained in ballet and jazz. I use my training to bring something different to the stage instead of trying to fit in with what’s popular nowadays. I’m a theatre kid. I don’t try to sing like a pop star. I sing how I was trained with my own twist on technique. I’m not here to do what’s being done. I’m here to shake up music, and that’s what I plan to do.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
Yes. I’m always writing. There will be many more antisocial pop songs coming your way very soon.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
I have a new single coming out this summer followed by an EP that I’m very excited to share. I won’t give it away that easy, but let’s just say it’s all being an anti-socialite.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yes. I’ll be bringing my weird parade to a city near you soon.
What else is happening next in Rilan’s world?
My world is about to be the world. The Illuminati hasn’t gotten back to me yet, but world domination is in the near future regardless.