New music alert – Rilan’s new single is Love or Drugs.
I caught up with Rilan for a behind-the-scenes look at the track and the video.
The darkness that you’re addressing with Love or Drugs – do you think that’s something specific or unique to Los Angeles, or is it a wider cultural experience?
There’s darkness everywhere. Some places it’s just well hidden. It’s hushed. I feel like it’s more out in the open in LA. Sex and drugs and rock’n’roll are part of the culture here. They always have been, and they always will be, but what’s being lost is the rock’n’roll – the reason behind the debauchery. Sex and drugs do not a party make. If anything, they ruin it. They make it boring and expected and make me roll my eyes. Rock’n’roll is interesting and unexpected. I’m here to throw everyone a better party where the cool kids are locked out and rock’n’roll is still alive.
What is it about Los Angeles that enables superficial or inauthentic behaviour to flourish?
Everyone in LA came here for a reason. They had a dream, but dreams are hard work. Nowadays more than ever, we want instant results and instant gratification. When we don’t get them, we get frustrated and reach for distractions, usually those that take us as far away from our reality as possible and away from the reason we came to LaLaLand in the first place. People get caught up in a lifestyle of fame and fortune without earning either. They treat their symptoms, like loneliness and heartache and disappointment, but not the cause of their problems. I don’t want to be a has-been dreamer lost in the storm of bullshit that is LA. I want to be a legend, and legends work, so that’s what I do. To make your fantasy a reality, hard work is the first ingredient to the potion.
You’ve described David Bowie as one of your musical heroes. What is it about Bowie’s career and music that you connect with?
Bowie never lived in the real world. He created his own musical universe and invited us all inside. It was better than reality. I fell in love with what the world could be through his music, and that’s what I strive to create in my own art. With every album he added a new planet to his universe, completely unique to the others but still a part of him. That’s what I’m doing. I’m creating a world where the weird kids are cool because in reality, we always have been cooler than the norm.
Gay men have often found an interdependency between sex and drugs, but that seems to have gone next-level in recent years with the rise of the PnP and chemsex scene. Is that something that you’ve encountered in Los Angeles?
I’ve always been a misfit. I’ve never been a part of a single ‘scene’, be it gay or straight or subculture or popular. If it’s been defined, I’ve run the other way. I’ve encountered about every scene here in LA that you could possibly imagine, and none of them have appealed to me. There always seems to be a dependency on something within a scene – like drugs or sex or both. I’m too antisocial to be a part of a scene to begin with, and what sounds even worse than forcing myself to be a part of something I don’t like is doing so without being aware of who I am. Human connection is so rare these days, so why wouldn’t you want to experience that with full consciousness?
Living in LA, and surrounded by superficial behaviour, how do you keep yourself grounded and not drawn into an LA state of mind?
I’m an artist. The only thing that makes me happy in this world is creating. That’s what I do everyday, and what I will do every single day until the day I die. I’m in LA to make my fantasy a reality, and I won’t stop working until the real world transforms into what it looks like in my head.
What do you hope that people feel when listening to Love or Drugs?
Besides my sarcasm, I hope people feel understood. I’ve never been invited to that party. I’m not friends with those people. I never will be, and neither will you, but that’s okay. We have each other. We’re going to throw our own party. It’s going to be weird and freaky and uncool to the popular kids, and that’s exactly the way we planned it. We’re too cool to be cool.