“You’re part of my vision, my sweet intuition”
This is Jean-Luc, and he’s #OnTheVerge of being the King of Pop. Hailing from New York, but a student in Boston, this pop star reigns over the divinity of sound with his innovative music that attempts to blend genres into consistent and cohesive compositions.
This youthful artist is no ordinary man striving for fame, he is a Boston University grad with a lot of heart and passion for his craft.
“I studied advertising (COM), so my whole thing was kind of use advertising and what I learned in school to brand myself as, when you think about it in advertising, we’re always trying to brand a product, so kind of trying to create a product out of myself, is what I am trying to do, it’s so weird cuz I try to think about how my image all starts in my head. Everything from my videos, to how I dress, to my whole look; it’s almost as if I’m coming up with the idea of what the ideal pop star would be, and I’m just trying to be that person.”
I proceed to then ask this humble curator of melodies how he went about picking out the genres he pursues for his music.
“I try to keep everything pop, I think it was when I first started doing music, I would go to all of these concert in New York, and it was during the EDM boom. It was like Aviccii and Steve Aoki and all these people rising up, and I loved the dance music, and I loved seeing people rage. I was like I want to be the singer who sings with the DJ to the dance music, and then slowly I decided to be my own person, and then it wasn’t until my friend, Dan, heard one of my songs, which I thought was EDM in like Freshman or Sophomore year, and he told me “that sounds like pop”. And I was ‘like you know what? You right. Let’s just do pop.’ And I mean, I’ve always loved pop music, like Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Madonna, Prince, have always been my favorite artists, so I was like why not just do that? But in terms of like the different aspects of my music, I try not to keep things the same.”
He continued to go on about how the various different aspects of his sound come from these influences and how he he’s on a mission to blend his favorites together. Jean-Luc explains that his two single releases “FMLYD” and “Fade Out” for his upcoming studio album American Fantasy is a great example of this concept he is trying to create. He considers these tracks the two polar opposites of the album, illuminating the notion of life’s juxtaposition.
“I don’t mean for it to throw people off, I am just trying to show how “FMLYD” is like this happy dreamy aspect of it [American Fantasy] and “Fade Out” is the bottom, like when you’re on the floor.”
Throughout it all, he tries to keep a pop thread running through them all, having that melody that keeps you jamming, whilst adding an element with a flare to it to keep it enticing. I wanted to ask Jean-Luc what kept him moving and going, in essence, what got him up in the day to do what he does? To this he responded with a smile:
“I think going online, and honestly this is gonna be funny,” he thoughtfully chuckles to himself, “but seeing other people on their grind gets me going. Like for me, when I see the Kardashians and I see all the others, I see Kanye, Paparazzi just dropping his new fashion line, Justin Bieber getting number one hits, The Weekend getting awards across the board, it makes me want to go harder. It’s the competition at the end of the day, when I see drake, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd being called the ‘king of something,’ I’m like ‘no, motha*cka! I’m here! That’s about to be me!’”
We went onto the topic of how we all have these passions we are fighting for and then, of course, things happen and plans get delayed and then you start panicking about being able to ever get things done in time, but Jean-Luc then poised the as “I mean you’ll have those days, but you always have to know that you have to just keep going.”
I had a chance to ask my favorite question to ask artists in interviews, “what’s your soul song?”
“I think my soul song would probably be… I really love “Bad and Bougie,” it just totally sums up hip hop right now, and I’ve been trying to totally get that sound, work on a track land, and try to get to a solid hip hop track like that.”
So, who are your influencers?
“The Weeknd definitely influenced my sound, Drake, even just like a lot 80’s music old Madonna, old Eurythmics, Prince, all of these old bands and all of this 80’s sh*t, like my track “FMLYD,” is a pop track with an 80’s flare to it. And of course, I’m trying to look at what’s going on right now, but I’m also trying to look to the past and trying to make a sound that’s different. I’m always trying to think about what makes me different, what’s the thing that when I’m in a room with somebody similar to me that I could be like, ‘ok, that’s them and this is me.’ I try to keep all these influences from people, but try to do it in a different way.”
We continued the conversation on about influencers and how this helped in his own formation of identity, and how he decided to display his brand and value proposition to his fans.
“My value proposition is… I’m pop. I think that all these other people are doing this R&B type of thing and new hip hop thing, but I’m literally straight up pop. Like I’m the one that wants to be the biggest pop star in the world— everyone has to have the look, the brand, the image, so I’m somewhere between The Weekend, where it’s like sensual, it’s sexy, it’s provocative, but like… I had someone tell me the other day who was listening to my music and was like this is like if ‘The Weeknd and Katy Perry had a baby’ and I thought that’s what I’m trying to do, be provocative, badass, like “FMLYD,” but then at the same time, it’s like this Katy Perry pop that if I wasn’t singing FMLYD, it would be this music that little kids would be dancing too, so you know what I mean? It’s this halfway point, it’s provocative pop.”
One thing to note about this musical virtuoso is that he is also quite the fashionista! he is known for matching his style to his music, which I very much appreciate in creating a consistent brand. He came to out to the interview with an avant-garde 80’s look, where he clashed John Bender Boots and the long black jacket (a style from the iconic film ‘The Breakfast Club’), and a worn-out metal graphic T, with a Hawaiian button down, the George Michael earring, gold chains, and hair in dreads. He tried to clash worlds of hip hop and rock together! He called it an “angsty look, like waking up with a confidence like a punch in the face– basically, a walking statement of my brand.”
“I want to make music that’s really poppy that you can stop thinking of, but music that your mom would be like mmm I don’t want you listening to that Jean-Luc! I want to make music that’s really poppy, but I don’t want it to be so cookie cutter that everyone can listen to it. I mean, of course I want everybody to listen to it, but I want people to get pissed off at it. I want people to get mad at it too!”
A valid point! That’s how music gets heard, especially today! And as being a student, I thought how it must have been hard to break those boundaries and be heard amongst people in the city, especially in Boston where the music scene is somewhat hidden. He described the various ways he went about utilizing tools like social media, parties, flyers, and more to get the word out. He was known for his style, so he began at least becoming a familiar face to people in school. He then held parties too where he would perform, and would sometimes rent out spaces just to put on a show. He proved that it’s hard and costly work to be heard, but it’s necessary work that will help you along the way and will hopefully give back twofold as an artist grows.
In addition to all of this, Jean-Luc is also part of a musical group, similar to Odd Future’s organization, called The Arsenal, and this squad of people come together to support each other in the music industry, create music, and put on shows to further themselves in their art!
For his own personal music, “American Fantasy comes out from my desire. Just like for all other artists it’s fantasy that I’m trying to make this happen [his career], but it isn’t right now. It’s like that juxtaposition of ‘I’m trying to make it happen, but it ain’t happening right now.'” Nonetheless, don’t think that this surreal reflection is keeping him from pursuing this dream; in fact, it would only further ignite a flame in his being to push harder, and truly make it all happen.
“If I’m not the biggest pop star in 5 years, kill me, please.”
And of course, what are you On The Verge of?
“On The Verge of being the King of Pop!” He smiles bashfully, but excitedly, as this artist has become confident enough in himself and his wishes to say this without hesitation, making ‘I think’ into ‘I know…’
See him perform live at the Verge Campus and FAB 2017 Boston Breakthrough Exclusive Showcase Event! The Facebook event for more details is HERE. Hope to see you there!