I want a world where imagination isn’t mocked or looked at as a nuisance. A movement of creative freedom. I’ve met so many talented, creative, and innovative individuals on my journey and some of them don’t showcase it due to “society norms.” I think creativity is a gift that many have, and yes a lot of people show it — but a lot of people hide from it.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Joel Christian.
Joel Christian is a singer, songwriter, and performance artist based in Los Angeles. Joel has created a unique electronic approach to pop music that has become entirely his own genre. His music is defined as electronic pop with a dark twist that makes you dance but also curious about who he is. Joel Christian is a fresh breed of pop star identity and his sound is a new era for pop music. His newest single, “Rise From The Grave” starts out like an eery horror film but later becomes a synth-wave inspired club record. Joel then released an official music video that debuted shortly after. Joel is continuing to pave his own way through pop music and won’t stop creating his unique identity. With musical influences of Adam Lambert, Marilyn Manson, Prince, and Lady Gaga — Joel continues to boldly steps out into his own fantasy world by creating a collection of unique electronic pop music.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Hithere, thank you so much for having me, really means a lot! I grew up in Orange County, CA. I went to private school my entire life and I always had a passion for performing, whether it was on stage in theatre or just goofing around with my friends dancing to Britney Spears. I grew up knowing that I was different and had a passion for pop music and most of all pop culture. Growing up though, I battled with myself a lot trying to figure out who I was with the pressures of religion and the strict rules of private school. Throughout my entire childhood I was always told to by my surroundings to be a certain way, but then also had others cheering me onto be unique and creative. I always saw the world in different lenses than what others saw. I could hear sounds and write a melody, I could see a cool word and think of a song based around that, I would watch movies and think of a completely different storyline to tell. Everything artistic inspired me while I was growing up and I never stood down to being who I was. I always felt that my imagination and creativity was my greatest power. I tried expressing it all throughout my entire life. I was born to be an entertainer and growing up into adulthood I took that gift and made it into my music.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Well, growing up I was always in some sort of creative art field. I’ve done fashion, theatre, modeling, but music always made me feel alive. I’ve been making music and writing songs since I was 14 years old, back in the Myspace days and always had this character inside of me to create electronic pop music. I would always sneak out of the house when I was a teenager to run to all the gay clubs in LA to dance and feel free within pop music. When I was 19, I moved to San Francisco with some friends and I started writing more music and created a persona for my stage performances. I wrote a few songs that were heavily inspired by pop music at the time and I started performing in gay clubs in Los Angeles and San Francisco mostly. I love the way music makes me feel. It’s almost a saving grace for me. I’ve always felt like a freak or an outsider of some sort, but when I make pop music — none of those insecurities matter, I feel confident within my art. I decided to stick with my music and push for the world to hear my story, see my art, and most of all for my fans to feel comfortable and safe like I do within my songs.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Well, there are so many!!! But recently I got an email from a fan that said they used to be a huge fan of mine on Myspace (which is from like 8 years ago) and they are happy I’m making music again — and they love the new songs! Another story would probably just be the amount of people I’ve met on my journey. It’s crazy how big the world is but how intimate the music industry is. I’ve had makeup artists do my makeup that knew my friends from high school and just how crazy things come in full circle throughout your life.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Actually, when I was in the studio first recording. I was so nervous about my vocals and I had drunk an entire iced latte thinking that it would help me with my vocal tracking that day. Before I knew it, I was so energized and hyper — I couldn’t sit down or focus, my vocals sounded weird cause they had just been lubricated with coffee so I just ended up having a dance party with my producer and writing music, haha! The lesson I learned was — just stick with water and lemon right before recording!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I’ve been working on so many projects right now and writing so much. Sometimes I wake up and have 10 new songs or concepts ready to go. I’m so happy and thrilled to be making pop music and meeting fans from all over the world that genuinely feel connected to me and my music. I’m getting ready to release my new single, “Hell Raiser” which I’m so excited about! I wanted to make this record unique, gritty, and most of all fun for my fans to dance too (especially during the current stay at home orders). It’s not your typical mainstream pop song — I wanted to take a different approach to a dance track. Make the lyrics simple, hooks contagious, and the musical beat to be exhilarating enough to energize you and make you feel alive. I’m so excited to release it! I’m also working on my debut album which I’m so excited about. It feels like a part of my soul that has been pouring out of me for so many years and now the world will finally hear it — hopefully releasing it this summer! It’s a magical story about finding your inner strength of being creative and not being afraid. Through music and imagination — this album will have insane danceable pop-music anthems on it.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think diversity is so important. This industry can be so twisted and backwards sometimes and it’s our job as artist and people with voices to express the right of individuality and freedom. We have made several progressive steps in the industry but we need to continue pushing and focusing on how we can make a difference. There are many reasons I think diversity is important — such as equality for everyone, because at the end of the day we are all the same. We need to set examples of what is right and to me, that’s no discrimination in any form. Lastly, it creates hopes and dreams for everyone out there to feel that they can accomplish their dreams, because dreams are limitless and should have no boundaries when it comes to race, ethnicity, or sexual orientations! I will always stand for equality and diversity as an artist. The world needs to be different.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I wish people
- “It can get lonely” — I always found that no one teaches you about loneliness while making music. Music is such a universal language but when you are creating it, it’s something so deep and vulnerable that sometimes I find myself feeling lonely and misunderstood. At times, you know I’m a human so I get in my head of insecurities and thoughts, but then I push myself to make something powerful and contagious for my fans to listen to. Every time I hear my records play or when I release a track, I’m connecting with my fans and the loneliness vanishes. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but for some time in the beginning of my career — I always felt so lonely and misunderstood. The rejection was hard to deal with, but now having a fan base it makes me feel proud of never giving up because now my fans and I have the best relationship ever.
- “No Privacy Ever”- I’m a private person so when it comes to my family and personal life I don’t like to share a ton. As an artist, that’s my escapism — is that I can create a fantasy world of where I live and showcase my creativity. I express my music and fantasy of pop culture through a unique identity. I’m wearing eye-catching outfits, masks and glasses to create a curiosity, and most of all a sound in my music that keeps you intrigued but also enticed by a mystery, just to avoid the attack of my privacy. I will always be honest, real, and genuine with my art — but my personal life is something I keep to myself.
- “No Filter” This industry has no filter of what they want to say, talk, or express about you as an individual, but yet you have to have a filter as an artist. I get told all the time, “you’re music is so different,” “it’s not like the stuff on the radio,” “you’re aesthetic doesn’t make sense,” but then I get comments like “you’re music is what dark pop is all about,” “you have a unique identity that is eye-catching” “you’re an emerging artist for the LGBTQ community.” You see there’s no filter to what I’m being told by the public — so I take my artistry the same way. Why should I have a filter? Why should I let them tell me what outfits I should wear? Why should I stay in the lines? They’re not doing it, so why should I? I’m all about taking risks and being fearless.
- “It takes time” I always knew that passion and crafting takes time. I was never someone who wanted overnight success — I always loved the fight for your life kind of attitude. The music industry takes time to create an identity and master it, and even then…you are still growing as an artist. I wish someone told me it takes time and not distort the saying of an “overnight success” which is what’s happening a lot now during the social media era. It’s not over night though, it’s a decade in the making for me at least — but I’m ok with it. It’s not about “becoming a success” for me personally, it’s about becoming myself naturally on this journey of mine.
- “It’s never too late” For many years, I was told “Well you missed your time to be a pop star.” It always stuck with me and felt so discouraging at the time. I fought so hard all these years to be an individual who never gave up, so I wish more people told me to keep going then put a time limit on my ability to dominate the music world. It’s not about “your time” It’s about “your journey” and my journey is bringing as many of my fans on this wild ride and inspiring them to take chances and never give up — no matter where you are in life. My journey got me to where I am today and I’m not going anywhere.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I would say follow your gut and trust yourself. Too many times, I took advice from others and completely felt destroyed. I lost control of what made me happy and what I stood for. At the end of the day, as an artist, you will only thrive if you are the driver and not the passenger. I will always listen, learn, and be respectful of others, but I’m the artist and I need to be creating the art. There will only ever be one of you in this world — so be yourself and go for it.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want a world where imagination isn’t mocked or looked at as a nuisance. A movement of creative freedom. I’ve met so many talented, creative, and innovative individuals on my journey and some of them don’t showcase it due to “society norms.” I think creativity is a gift that many have, and yes a lot of people show it — but a lot of people hide from it. My movement would allow people to create their own world where passion and creativity led them instead of money and fame. Every person to me has some magic in them — I feel it when I meet my fans and people around the world. I want them to feel safe and comfortable with who they are. Whether it’s making music, singing, dancing, painting, etc — express yourself and never be afraid!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would say my fans are the reason I make music every day. They inspire and fulfill me in ways I never could imagine. My producer is also someone that continues to inspire me because he is creative, open-minded, and most of all has stuck by my side after all these years of creating my music. He brings my insane ideas to to life and spends endless amount of hours perfecting every detail to create the “Joel Christian” sound. The last person would be myself and it’s not in a narcissistic way, but I think artists should appreciate and thank themselves just as much as they thank others. I worked really hard to be here. For so many years I felt rejected, misunderstood, and mistreated within the music industry, but I knew I had a talent that could not be ignored. I never gave up on myself and to me I am thankful for continuing to fight for my music.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I don’t know if it’s a life lesson quote, but I read this quote a long time ago by my favorite author and it always to this day gives me goosebumps. “We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already,” — J.K. Rowling. I always find myself looking back at this quote and feeling at home. I’ve always felt imaginative and limitless to what I can create as an individual and I know we all have magic inside ourselves and I’ll use my magic until the day I die.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Oh man! That’s a tough one, I have so many people I’d love to have a meal with, haha! I honestly would probably have to have a meal with some of my favorite creatives writers and artists like J.K. Rowling, Lady Gaga, Kim Petras, or Ryan Murphy. I’d love to drink a nice coffee with them, learn their journey and get some advice!
How can our readers follow you online?
Well, I’m currently on every social media platform and my music is streamed on every platform as well! I’m most active on my Instagram which is @joelchristiann but I’m also on Facebook, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Twitter!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!