American singer, dancer, and actor Rilan is passionate about using his freedom of expression to present the challenging issues faced today. Best known for his role on the final season of Glee, he released his debut EP Chemical in 2015. He then released the single “Blindfolds” featuring singer Naz Tokio in the spring of 2016, which peaked at #22 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart. We had the opportunity to catch up with Rilan on the heels of his New York City debut performance at Fashion Week and his soon to be released track #MoneyTalk.
As much as he’s been known to be a “dark pop” artist, there was nothing dark about his mood and energy. As Corey Wesley posed the questions, we quickly could tell just how open and warm Rilan is. We could easily tell he was curious about his artistry and he is focused and passionate about the messages he’s providing through his lyrics. We asked him to describe his music in five words for people who have not heard it before and he gave us “electronic, unapologetic, hard as fuck.”
His latest track #MoneyTalk was written about a year and a half ago and was inspired by some of the real-life experiences he’s had. It is connected to social media’s impact on individuals and their self-esteem along with the important decisions they make with regards to their own bodies. Rilan said that too many have become famous for all the wrong reasons and there are too many little boys and girls trying to look like their favorite reality TV star. “Hollywood has a twisted view of what it means to be pretty, and social media promotes its perversion of beauty. Just because you have the money to change your appearance doesn’t mean you need to do so to be attractive, and I think it’s time to remind people of the truth — you’re prettier being yourself than looking like everyone else on the Internet,” said Rilan.
When it comes to where he fits in Rilan boldly proclaimed, “I’m the weird kids’ voice.” He moved to Los Angeles to pursue commercial music but found that he didn’t and still doesn’t fit into the Hollywood “scene.” Writing is cathartic for him and he writes about his own experiences. His music shares with the listener how he’s found his way even though he often feels like the outsider. Through his artistry you can tell he follows in the footsteps of his favorites, the “superhumans,” David Bowie, Prince, and Lady Gaga, who have paved the way for other similar artists. He also draws inspiration from Annie Lennox and Nine Inch Nails.
Rilan took a moment when asked what he’s most proud of to date in his musical career. He said that he’s most proud of this latest song because it’s really the musical direction he wants to take. We delightfully enjoyed hearing some of this direction when he recently gave his New York City debut performance at Fashion Week. Rilan was excited and grateful to have performed in New York and he’s looking forward to coming back as soon as he can. At Fashion Week, Rilan performed several songs and showcased his line of jackets.
Rilan had always been creating costumes for his dancers and himself from items he would buy at The Santee Alley. When he performed for a fashion show in the spring he was asked where his collection was and was invited to present in New York City. Empowered by that opportunity, he got to work sketching and meeting with pattern makers and three local designers to collaborate on his “upside down triangle” jackets with tons of shoulder pads. Creating his own collection fell right in line with his belief that music and fashion are intrinsically tied together. Rilan was very enthusiastic when sharing his thoughts with us about his vision for his collection. As he said, 80s synth pop is his thing and that clearly comes across in the jackets.
When it comes to responding to our question about being unconventional, Rilan said that #MoneyTalk and its launch is it for now. Rilan is a firm believer in the freedom of expression. #MoneyTalk is an introduction to what life is like. This and his other upcoming songs are his way of getting through the bull shit and he’s not afraid to call people out. “It’s time for people to not stay quiet and shut up. It’s time for people who have the freedom to speak up, to speak up.”
We’re looking forward to the #MoneyTalk release as well as more to come in the new year.