Alan Delavan may be the most honest music artist you have ever met or heard of. For decades now the music business has been about assimilation rather than invention. Truly original artists come along maybe once per decade and those who follow are steered towards towing the line. The choices are: 1) make your sound fit the popular trend, or 2) seek your own voice and resign yourself to a small group of appreciative fans. The almost nonexistent third group are those who cultivate their own vision, try the route the “suits” steer them towards, and then abandon this experiment to turn to their own designs; Delavan is the later. Along this journey, there is more than knowledge to be gained. While Alan admits that the electronic sound he created for “Two of a Kind” is not his true essence, his sojourn yielded this fine song as compensation. It’s almost unheard of for a music artist to have success with a direction and then state, “Yeah, it did well but I’m going to stick with where my heart is.”
Growing is hard to do. Conducting this process as an artist who has public recognition makes this even more difficult. One thing Delavan is adamant about is vulnerability. He consistently offers this up in his lyrical content and emtional performances. To reach new places requires experimentation and…yes, you guessed it vulnerability. When he was approach by a Spanish record label to dip his toe in the electronic world, it wasn’t an intuitive approach for him. He admits, “Although I like electronic music, I’m not really used to integrating it into my own work. I feel that my artistic identity is closer to 60s and 70s rock and beach pop music. I always try to take a vanguard approach but my music definitely has that vintage/retro-futuristic/organic and laid back vibe. Making ‘Two of a Kind’ allowed me to explore new and hidden parts of myself and changed my perspective. It definitely gave me a wider vision as an artist and as a songwriter.”
While the style of “Two of a Kind” was drastically different, Alan’s studio production team of French record producer/DJ Dimitri Tikovoï (with sales of over 3 million albums with bands including: Placebo, The Horrors, Charli XCX, Mikky Ekko, Marianne Faithfull, and Nicola Roberts) and artist/songwriter Maya Von Doll (whose songs have been featured on Gossip Girl, Californication, Nip/Tuck, Vampire Diaries, and the Super Bowl) made the switch much more comfortable. In contrast to Delavan’s usual implementation of organic instrumentation, much of the session time at London’s Metropolis Studios was spent programming and working on the electronic elements. Concerning these recording sessions, he notes, “It’s always fun to experiment in the studio. It makes you a better artist. I’m very eclectic and never like to feel trapped in a cage. It wasn’t that difficult and I always had my producer Dimitri and Maya making my job easier. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t insecure during these sessions but these situations are important to explore if you want to continue evolving. ‘Two of a Kind’ was really loved and embraced by a lot of people and I’m proud of it. While I didn’t pursue an electronic approach in subsequent songs, it helped me to affirm what sound I feel represents me properly…and I was able to give a great song to the public at the same time.”
Fans of Alan Delavan are familiar with his concept that the sounds AND the sights of his music are inseparable. He’s a highly visual person when it comes to the aesthetics he feels his music evokes. As with his songs, the videos that accompany them are always focused on creating a mood rather than a glamorous or ego fueled appearance on his part. Alan describes his own music as retro-futuristic and prefers to present the imagery of it in the same manner. Rob Hawkins worked with Delavan on the video for “Two of a Kind.” He recalls, “Alan was very specific about what he wanted and how we were going to achieve it. He has a comprehensive knowledge of both music and film. We started with references that stemmed mainly from the 60's and 70's underground music and visual scenes. Taking signatures from these eras we incorporated a retro-futuristic feel. We decided to shoot at Camberwell Studios using VHS cameras and played with various aspects of 'vintage' technology, using feedback, etc. to get the desired static and ‘glitchy’ feel.”
The term retro-futurism is one you’ll hear often from Delavan. It is perhaps the common thread which connects all of his creations. In Alan’s hands, the technique might best be described as a time traveler selecting his favorite things from a catalogue of the universe and using it to decorate both his music and videos. The video for “Two of a Kind” gives the sense of going from the interior of a spaceship to an underground NYC club in the 70s, to somewhere lost in another dimension; chaotic, exciting, and (in an endearing way) visually awkward. Using “outdated” technology was a requirement for Alan because he wanted the viewer to be unable to discern if the footage in the music video was authentically from a previous era or created for this actual production.
Though “Two of a Kind” was a hit record for Alan Delavan, it was ultimately a direction he opted to not pursue as an artist. He espouses the love he had for 80’s synth-pop as a teenager but concedes that he is in a much different place and requires honesty from himself. He communicates, “The most rewarding part of making this song was experiencing that expansion in my perspective as a songwriter and as a singer. It made me evolve and gave me a deeper knowledge and understanding of how to compose songs, how to interact with elements that were new to me, and how to adapt my voice in order to make it work. Getting lost from time to time is a good thing because, when you find yourself again you’re still you but with a renewed version of yourself which confirms your identity as an artist and shows you the path you truly want to take. It’s a very interesting and inspiring exploration.”