Indeed it is! My parents made it easy and just stamped me with a stage name the second I came out of the womb! I’m always having to prove it’s my real name, I’m like, “It’s real, I swear! Look at my passport!” Anyway, I’m a recording artist from a middle-of-nowhere cowboy town in the American West, now based in London, which is pretty much the antithesis of where I’m from!
Your debut album Songs from the American Motel comes out the 30th of January, tell us a bit about what we can expect.The album follows the journey I’ve been on for the past seven years or so, since I left my hometown at 18 and started making my way through the world. I’ve lived a lot of places since then: Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Madrid, Washington D.C., Vermont, now London, and the songs on the album retell the stories I’ve collected along the way…there have definitely been some crazy ones!
How would you describe your musical style?
Cinematic. I’ve been told that listening to my songs is like watching a movie, and I would agree with that, it’s definitely what I’m aiming for. They are full of vivid characters and stories. The style is a subtle combination of rock, country western and my upbringing as a classical pianist. My band is me on piano and vocals, with guitars, bass, drums and string quartet.
You’ve mentioned comedian Chelsea Handler and filmmaker Gus Van Sant as influences in your music. How do they manifest themselves in what you do?
I’m a huge Chelsea Handler fan and definitely share her acerbic sense of humour. Throughout my journey as a performer, I’ve wanted to find a way to incorporate comedy into my live show. So I started doing stand-up comedy style banter and monologues and I found that it really made audiences engage with the music on a deeper level, so it stuck! As for Gus Van Sant, I think he’s a filmmaker who so poignantly captures the world that I grew up in, a very Americana, western landscape, and it’s an aesthetic I try to recreate in my music.
Well, first of all, I knew from the beginning that as a writer, I wanted to recreate my reality and the reality of those around me through music. So that meant talking about my life in very real terms. I never even thought twice about being “an out gay artist,” I just wrote songs about things that I thought were good stories, and for me, a lot of those stories have involved men! Haha! And what I’ve found is that you don’t have to be gay to appreciate a song like “American Motel,” I mean, it’s about being in your 20s and being a complete mess, which is something anyone who’s ever been in their 20s can probably relate to!
As for the video, filmmaking has always been a huge passion for me, but something I decided to forgo in university for music…so I was pretty thrilled to start making my own music videos this year! For the “American Motel” video I wanted to make a montage of hundreds of clips that for me somehow represented my journey to “checking in” to the “American Motel”: all the memories, images and fantasies that I encountered along the way and that formed my experience as a boy from the Wild West trying to find his place in the world. There are so many clips in this, about 200, if I remember correctly.
You’re launching the album in an unorthodox way. Tell us about your month-long theatre run at London’s Leicester Square Theatre.
To launch the album, I wanted to create a special experience for my audience that went beyond the typical music gig, so I put together a theatre show in which my ensemble perform the songs from the album on a “motel room” set. The audience feels like they are in the room with us, as we lounge around on the furniture playing awesome music! It’s going to be one big, month-long party at the Leicester Square Theatre!
Have you been to Australia?
Unfortunately, no…And I’m dying to! Aussie’s are pretty much the best part of London and everyone I meet is like, “You need to do this show in Australia!” So we’re going to try to make that happen. It would literally be a dream come true! Hopefully the Aussie’s in London will come check out the show!