I’ve always had a thing for darkness and sadness, I think it is the way to actually know somebody.
Photography: Joe Simpson
Interview: Dylan Rubinstein
Prune: Your current single, “Blindfolds”, is about being rejected by someone you love. What inspired this song?
Rilan: Actually, Naz Tokio and I were writing this song for a DJ. It was a time of house music. Usually when we write we start with a theme, a word, or a concept and then develop it like that. This started in the booth. We went in and started singing melody passes and said the word “blindfolds” and thought about this idea about falling in love with somebody, and when they leave you, you’re basically blinded. They’re the only person you can see. It was cool to write about something that was personal for both of us and tragic if you will, but put it to music that people enjoy.
Prune: Your music has a sense of vulnerability, making it easy to connect with. Talk to me about the unique perspective to your work.
Rilan: I’ve always had a thing for darkness and sadness, I think it is the way to actually know somebody. I think I found vulnerability in my own music through the people that inspired me. I think vulnerability is actually strength, when you look at people like Bowie who developed the personality “Ziggy Stardust” in my opinion, I think that was from a lack of confidence in oneself. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean that in a good way. This is the mecca, this is the hero he wanted to be, and in order to achieve that he created a character that resonated with so many different people and started a whole genre of glam rock and theatrical performance. I think that the best way to get to know me and for me to put my emotions out there is when I write songs.
Prune: How would you describe your music as a whole?
Rilan: My music right now is all about my journey in LA and sorting through the fakeness that is here and I think writing about that and my experiences, socially and business wise, I tend to write about the bad experiences more than the good experiences. I think I’ve realized through this journey that fitting in is pointless. To sum it up, it’s dark electro pop with a little theatre and razzle dazzle
Prune: What is your favorite thing about performing live today?
Rilan: I feel most myself when I’m on stage. I think that all my insecurities and worries and anxieties go away when I step on there because I get to do what it is that I’ve always done and where I’ve always felt most comfortable. It’s really cool when I get to go out there and I have a good time and everybody else has a good time. It’s a special connection that’s unsaid. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is worthwhile.
Prune: You’ve said that you connect with artists such as Prince and David Bowie. What gravitates you towards these artists?
Rilan: It’s the performance aspect. There is something about them that is superhuman. I feel like pop music is a vessel for an artist to show the world and communicate who they really are. Boy George and Prince were super androgynous and out of the box, and that’s what I loved about them. You could never lock them into a label. They redefined gender, sexuality, and even genre of music. What drew me to those people is the fact that they were unapologetically themselves.
Prune: As a kid, you were bullied for being different. How were you able to embrace your differences and move past those who couldn’t?
Rilan: I never really conformed. I didn’t want to change and I don’t think I ever will. That’s an important notion to maintain growing up. I always thought I would be happier being who I actually am than trying to be somebody else and having to chase after my lost soul.
Prune: In 2017, men wearing makeup has become a more of a norm. How do you express yourself through makeup?
Rilan: Yes it has. Growing up, makeup was my way of hiding. I had something on my face that kept me from showing the real me if you will. Nowadays with CoverGirl has a cover boy. That is the blessing of social media, kids expressing themselves, especially guys with makeup. I certainly do not look as pretty as those incredible makeup artists, but I like it because it takes me back to theatre and a time where I belonged. It’s important to show people different perspectives and blur lines of societal boxes and norms and be yourself. Femininity and masculinity are not exclusive to being a male or a female, be yourself and you’ll succeed.
Prune: Finally, let’s talk fashion. Describe your everyday style.
Rilan: My everyday style is more casual than I am on stage. Casual future 80s is how I would describe it, with some grunge. I’m always in black. Tight ripped sweats, black sneakers or combat boots, a black t shirt, and an assortment of vintage of denim or leather jackets.
Prune: What are your three favorite trends at the moment?
Rilan: Acid wash denim, that will never go away for me. I love clear PVC. Now there are a ton of street style girls wearing clear PVC heels and boots, it’s so weird and so wrong, but I think it is really cool. Goth footwear too. Big chunky black combat boots or metallic ones. My favorite pair of shoes are New Rock boots, they look ridiculous, but I like ridiculous.