Today we’re thrilled to introduce Rilan to the Divine site.
A self-confessed outsider, Rilan wears his inability to fit in as a badge of honor. Assumed a troublemaker at his New Orleans high-school because he was an artist and musical theatre kid amongst the athletes and a goth amongst the preps, Rilan kept his sights on Hollywood. Moving there to pursue music, he was quickly told his sound was too pop, his look was too dark and his voice was too theatre. Well, look at him now. Rilan is here to shake things up….
Welcome to the magazine Rilan. I like to start out with some silly, fun questions to break the ice so please feel free to let loose on these ones….
If you were a superhero what powers would you have and what would your hero name be?
I would love to be invisible. I’m socially awkward, so it would save my life in social situations. Telekinesis would be nice whenever I feel lazy too, but also teleportation would make sure I’d always be on time, so maybe that’s best for my career. I have a natural inclination towards darkness, so I’d probably name myself something mysterious and ominous along the lines of “Shadow” or “Rogue” or maybe a celestially inspired name like “Orion” or “Andromeda.” Not gonna lie, I totally played an MMORPG superhero computer game along with the lines of World of Warcraft growing up, so I may or may not have created characters just like those I just described.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Buy a haunted house. Immediately. The older and creepier, the better. I’d renovate it back to its former glory and become friends with its ghosts. Then we’d all live spookily ever after. Besides that, I’d divvy up the rest and give it to my family and friends and animal charities.
Do you have a cherished childhood teddy bear or other stuffed animal sitting on your bed at home?
Honestly, my Harry Potter books are my prized possessions. They’re currently displayed on a shelf in my living room in my apartment. I pack one with me whenever I travel. I’ve read them each 100 times, and they never get old. Thanks, JK Rowling.
Have you ever been skinny dipping?
I actually never have. Let’s do it.
What is your favorite piece of fashion?
A jacket. Hands down. Be it denim or leather or diamond encrusted, a jacket makes every outfit – the more shoulder pads, the better.
Right, now for the more serious ones….
You’ve got this whole dark thing going for you in that you challenge the norms and produce the music you want to make and project the image you feel suits you best and which is YOU. Tell us a bit about how you manage to make this work for you.
I’m terrible at being anything but myself. Believe me, I’ve tried. I tried to fit in in school and failed miserably. I tried to fit into music nowadays, but I simply can’t. I’ve never been one to follow trends or rules, so why should my musical path be like everyone else’s? It shouldn’t. I’ve always known that I’m much happier being myself than pretending to be something I’m not. I think we all are. The world already has people who are following trends. It’s our job to change those trends. It’s not our job to fit into the world. It’s our job to change the world until it fits us, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m bringing performance and satire and theatre back to pop music. It’s not cool right now, but I’m not going to stop until it is.
You’re classically trained in ballet and a real showman. Your stage shows are called ‘epic’, you performed in the last season of ‘Glee’ and you’ve performed at some of the most coveted clubs and festival from LA to London. You are truly a performer who wears many hats. How do you manage to be everything people want while staying sane and making time for yourself?
I’m not sane. I’m batshit crazy. That’s how I’ve always been. I don’t sit still, I don’t sleep, and I really don’t have time to myself, but that’s how I like it. I live and breathe my music and my show and my art. When people ask me what I do for fun, they look at me like I’m crazy when I say I work, but that’s the truth. I’m happiest when I’m too busy to breathe. After all, I am crazy, remember?
Your latest single, Love or Drugs, is a satiric tale about the party scene, being yourself and being cool. You say you write songs about the antihero or the outsider which is a fascinating perspective. You write all your own music, so tell us how this track came to be.
I wrote honestly that day. I wrote what I saw when my friends dragged me out of the house. Everyone nowadays is disconnected from everyone else. We’re searching for something to make us feel something again. For me that’s art. That’s my life source. It always has been and always will be. But for a lot of other people, it’s hard to find what truly makes us happy in this world, so we search for anything to fill that void. Unfortunately, a lot of times that’s a quick fix like a person or a substance. It’s a deadly downward spiral of staying cool and faking happiness, and that’s what I witness every time I go out to a club especially here in LaLaLand. It’s the remnants of coolness that the cool kids from high school are holding to. They’re trying to stay cool when really they should just be themselves and the coolness will follow. But that’s the norm here. I clearly don’t fit in. I never have and never will, so my way of combatting cool and bringing awareness to the reality of coolness is by making fun of it. Hence, “Love or Drugs.”
You’ve said you’re making popular music for unpopular people…’ a gothic dance party, because it’s fun on the surface, but its heart is black as coal.’ Tell us about this music and what drives the dark theme.
Life isn’t always happy, but that’s okay. Music transports us away from reality, but it also speaks to our soul’s troubles. For me, it’s important to maintain a balance between fantasy and reality in my music. I will always be fantastical. That’s how I perform and write and live my life. I will never be normal. Normal is boring. I will always transport you to my weird little world, but I will always be honest. I’ve experienced darkness just like everyone else, but I don’t hide from it. It’s important to talk about it. Talking about uncomfortable things helps others know that they’re not alone. It’s what my favorite artists did for me and continue to do for me when I lose hope. So that’s what I want to do. I’ll be your voice when you feel like you don’t have one anymore. I understand you. Feeling understood is the first step towards feeling better, and at the end of the day, nothing makes you feel better than a pop song.
Tell us about one of your favorite horror films; you’ve said this is a genre of film you truly enjoy. What type of horror film takes your fancy? Slasher, psychological, occult?
I love supernatural horror movies most of all. Of course, I love the classics like Halloween and Friday the 13th, but the supernatural will always be my cup of tea. It brings fantasy into reality in the most terrifyingly beautiful ways. From Nosferatu to Nightmare on Elm Street all the way to new modern classics like The Witch and Heredity, something about inhuman haunts stick with you more than human ones if you ask me. Just like with music, I want to experience something I’ve never experienced before when watching movies, and for me, supernatural horror almost always delivers.
What’s next on the cards for you? We believe you have an EP of anti-social pop-rock songs coming out in the summer. What can we expect from this compilation?
That’s exactly what’s coming – my own antisocial pop bops directly from me to you. There will be some more surprises along the way like singles and visuals and shows as well. Stay tuned kids. It’s gonna be weird, but it’s gonna be fun. I promise.
Rilan, thanks so much for answering our questions and telling us a bit more about you as a person and an artist. We wish you every success for the future!
Thank you guys so much for talking to this weirdo.
By the way, the song is now in the top 20 of the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and is still climbing!
Photo credit: Ashley Beliveau