LONG BEACH, Calif. (Aug. 12, 2015)
In August of 2015 I got a chance to chat online with New York City's preeminent indie pop icon, Eric Alán, about his new “My Favorite Sin” video and much more.
I'm a music journalist in Long Beach, CA, the Port of Los Angeles. Long Beach hosts the third-largest Pride celebration in the United States, and its musical culture boasts such names as Sublime, Snoop Dogg, Jenni Rivera and a great many more.
But hot news of the independent music scene in New York City, our geographical opposite, isn't as easy to come by as one might suppose. So naturally I'm keen to hear all about it when someone tips me off to a rapidly rising star in the East, and singer/performer Eric Alán couldn't possibly be shining more brightly.
Alán has been performing since 2011 and is the face and voice of popular music videos such as “L.O.V.&E.” and successful dance singles like “Pornstar.” His vertical climb to prominence has made him one of the most visible independent pop artists on the East Coast, as well as one of the best-loved performers available for listening and viewing on the Internet.
Our online exchange left me with the impression that Eric Alán isn't just a performer with all the right moves, a perfect ear for pop music, and – let's face it – some startlingly good looks, but also that he's a modest and goodhearted man with a penchant for fun and endless amounts of graciousness for the people he works with in music.
He laughs easily and often, and puts music and dancing before all other artistic concerns.
Here's what the artist who insists he has no fans – only friends – had to say.
So to start at the beginning, how did you get started writing and performing music?
I was noticed dancing on a speaker by the manager of a Latin dance artist. She suggested to me that I back-up dance. I went for it and did some shows. During that time, I got to meet and know different producers. One of them approached me and said I should take a shot at writing my own music and doing my own thing. I wrote and recorded a few tracks in Spanish, then went on to English. That's where it all started.
How would you describe your music?
I absolutely love to dance … so there is always that element of dance music, whether it be in the original cut or remixes.
Is it true you were voted NYC's No. 1 LGBT performer? What was that like for you?
Yes it is! LOL. Get Out Magazine sponsors a yearly award ceremony, and I did win. With so much competition and raw talent, especially here in New York, I was genuinely surprised that I was voted the best. That win – that show – opened a lot of doors and opportunities for me and I'm grateful to Mike Todd and everyone at Get Out Magazine for that experience. And of course everyone who voted for me!
That show turned plenty of heads. Can you describe that for me?
It's the largest venue I've played so far, what was then called the XL Night Club. It was the night of the Get Out Magazine awards show. I had a team of six backup dancers, quite an elaborate video backdrop, military costumes and choreographed dancing. I am very proud of that performance.
[See Eric Alán's article in Get Out Mag here.]
Do you know that more than 20,000 people have watched your videos on YouTube, alone? That's not counting your official website and everywhere else your music is available.
Oh, wow! No, I didn't. Honestly, I put the material out there and do check randomly, but 20,000 … Yaaay! (LOL.)
But now everyone's talking about your new video, “My Favorite Sin.”
Yeah, I think I just wrapped on my largest project to date. They seem to keep getting bigger and more extravagant. The video for “My Favorite Sin” was a three-day shoot, lots of extras, scenes, sets, a lot of rehearsals, etc. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I had an amazing team to work with so that made things a lot easier.
What's the song about?
Everything is a fight or struggle at some point or another. The ultimate fight or struggle is the one within. “My Favorite Sin” deals with my own fights and desire to overcome.
How did you represent that in the video?
Based on the theme of the song, I wanted a boxing/fighting motif. The director, Mikhail Torich, was able to take my vision and bring it to life.
Seeing as how you were voted #1 in Get Out Mag, what role does your status as a member of the LGBT community play in your music?
I don't think that being LGBT or gay has anything to do with my music. My music is just a part of me, so inherently, gay themes, images and such are part of my work.
What's your live show like, for people who haven't seen you before?
When I set out to do a live show, I genuinely try to do my best to entertain people, put on a number that I would like to see. I always have dancers, some kind of planned costume/look and depending on the venue, a video backdrop or some other kind of visual.
Where can people see you next?
My next live show is actually something fun for me. I will be singing the song “Fever” by Madonna at the annual Madonna Worship at the Stonewall Inn [Aug. 15, 2015]. I'm really excited about that one as Madonna is one of my heroes.
Your "My Favorite Sin" single and music video deals with the inner struggle. What gives you, personally, the power to overcome?
I think at the core of it all, I refuse to let obstacles take me down; at least not without a solid fight. Failure is not an option for me. It simply does not exist. I may not be the best at everything I do, but I won't quit. Giving up to me is failure. There are many times I've wanted to give up on different aspects of my life but I didn't, and I'm glad I didn't. It was worth the scars.
What are your fans like?
My 'fans?' LOL. I don't think of anyone as a 'fan.' In my head they are more like friends who appreciate my work as an artist.
Everyone has been overwhelmingly supportive from the start. It's very interesting to me to see how they react to different aspects of what I do; I am able to see my own work through their eyes or point of view. People connect on different levels. I also love to see when my idea or concept comes across loud and clear. As an artist in any media, you are making a statement, but will the statement be understood? It's gratifying to know when it is.
How have your fans reacted to your recent popularity?
You mean my friends, LOL. They are very honest! They tell you things that you yourself don't see, good and bad. Overall, they have been very positive. This last video seems to have resonated a little bit of a wow factor as it's very cinematic. I have Mikhail Torich and his amazing team to thank for that.
Is there an artist you'd like to open for perhaps more than any other? Why?
I think in more of the terms as who I would like to open for me in the future! <wink>
Your music is, of course, the biggest draw for fans of Eric Alán. What's your creative process like? Do you work closely with any producers or instrumentalists to get your sound just right?
As far as music goes, inspiration and creativity can come from anywhere. There is usually a seed of an idea that everything grows from. A lot can happen in the process of creating music or a song. At the end you have exactly what you set out for – or something totally different and perhaps even better than you initially intended.
My last two singles have been produced with Anthony Fletcher. He is very talented and gets me and the vibe I want in the music.
Are there any other genres of music you might see yourself performing one day?
I absolutely love the passion of salsa – in the music, singing and dancing. I would like very much to record a salsa track in the future. There is a Latin flare to most of my work, but it's most evident in "Where Are You Now" that was released along with "My Favorite Sin."
What has been the most rewarding part of your music career so far? What are you most proud of?
It's difficult to single out just one thing as it's all very multifaceted. I would have to say that I am most proud of actually doing what I said I wanted to do. Maybe it's a personal victory, but I still did it. A lot of people talk the talk but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, they simply don't walk the walk. I did and I am very proud of that.
Do you have anything to tell your fans?
Thank you. A very heartfelt, thank you.
See the new “My Favorite Sin” music video from Eric Alán here. The official single is available from iTunes in seven editions, including the definitive version and six remixes, and has been released with a bonus B-side track, “Where Are You Now.” Visit Eric Alán at his official website and be sure not to miss him onstage at NYC's famous Stonewall Inn on Aug. 15, 2015.