THE SEAL DUET AFTERMATH! (AN UPDATE)
As an artist I've had some success before, but nothing has come close to the viral sensation of the video that featured my duet with Seal had.
(If you haven't read my entry about it, please do: http://deehrelict.com/blog?q=node%2F)
People ask me if I was shocked that it happened. My answer is 'sort of'. When you're singing on the street, especially a known place like the Notre-Dame cathedral, you experience a lot of strange stuff. Having a celebrity sing a song with the "common folk" is stuff we see often on the internet these days. But what makes my duet with Seal special is the context surrounding it.
I'm a person who doesn't obsess with celebrities. I've met many. I'm very jaded with that stuff. I'm old school in the sense that fame should be earned, not given. So I can't relate to the shameless 'fame culture' we are currently living in. With that said, I am a huge Seal fan. Always was. And yes, I own all his albums (I know a few trolls have tried to call 'bullshit' on that). Meeting him was an amazing thing for me. Having him sit there and listen to me for almost an hour was pretty humbling. Having him compliment me was even more incredible. To see his twitter and video blog comments about me blew me away. All this was/is dear to my heart not because he was a celebrity, but because I respect him as an artist and now as a person. His feelings towards me seemed mutual and sincere. That's why we shared the song and sang it as a duet.
After he sang the song and left, I was anxious to show the video to my friends on Facebook. I sometimes write things that happen to me that seem hard to believe, so I was happy to finally have footage (and witnesses) to one of my weird life occurrences. I posted the video on my Facebook wall and went to bed. The next morning, I was flooded by emails from media outlets (some of them intimidatingly huge) for interviews. My YouTube channel was receiving updates every 30 seconds. My twitter and my Facebook blew up. At first, I didn't wanna do interviews, but by the 6th phone call, I felt guilty. So I reluctantly began doing radio, tv and newspaper interviews from all around the world. I probably only slept a total of 8hs in three days.
It bothered me that some media outlets would only share the short version with Seal singing because they seemed to have missed the point that the beauty of the video was observing a moment between two artists, one famous one not, singing together for fun.
I really didn't expect the video to go viral like it did (to be fair, a buddy of mine told me he might have tipped a media outlet and started the flood. I had nothing to do with it). But out of all that, the only thing I cared about was what Seal told me, to my face. That was important to me.
One of my favorite films is Field of Dreams. It's a great, if slightly sappy film that shows what a good Hollywood film can do: To inspire you with bold dreams. A scene in the film has a young rookie playing with professional baseball players. One of his dreams. The pros constantly poke fun at the rookie during the game. After the match, a pro tells the rookie 'hey rookie, you were good!'. That's all the rookie needed.
Thats all I need out of all this. The rest is extra for me. Yes, I have a band and I want my music to be known, but it wasn't my dream to be an internet meme. Yes, I am grateful that this has happened to me because I love adventure. I'm grateful to have my face in thousands of articles from around the world. But I don't expect to ride the wave for very long. I believe in my talents as a performer, songwriter and singer but I can't force important people to listen to me if they don't want to after the hype has died down. I can just work hard to make things happen on my end. But I feel that singing a verse with Seal is not enough to 'make it big' solely on that. But it's certainly a nice, fun leg up. A light has shown on me. People at least know me. Only time will tell.
I've been contacted by certain people who could help further my career. I'm weighing my options. Some are cool but some are pretty cynical and frankly, I'm holding myself from calling them out on their bullshit as I'm writing this.
One small problem is my image on the street doesn't fit with my image as a recording artist. When I play on the street, it's a job. I'm not there to be flamboyant and blow people away. I'm there to make people smile. I play other people's songs most of the time because money is important to pay bills during the summer. But my heart lies in The Scroll, which is a dark Neo-wave band- far from doing Stand By Me covers. I can just see the reaction of people who search for my band online after hearing the Seal duet, only to find me glittered out, singing on big dance beats with a seven piece band. In a smaller way, Seal also has that problem (or to some, the word is 'flexibility'): Some just like him for his Soul cover albums while some love his original releases (I'm the latter). There is a small divide. A hardcore Seal fan will love to hear Deep Water live or wonder why The Weight of My Mistakes wasn't a smash hit (it should be!), while some will wait for Kiss From A Rose in the encore. Seal can be both a soul performer singing old standards and a groundbreaking artist at the same time. I can be a dude singing folk songs and/or I can be a weirdo singing with bombastic production. I like having this flexibility. Its just hard when your job as a busker overtakes your passion project (The Scroll) in terms of fame. I have much more to give than Stand By Me.
The only constant is my voice. I know my voice sells me. I never saw myself as a singer, but I know how I like to sound. I try to take every element from vocalists I love and mash it together. I want to sound soulful, clear, grandiose, godly, and fragile all at the same time. Even if I sing a song I don't like, I'll try to give it a deep sincerity. There's a small bullseye that a vocalist can aim that can transcend. I try to hit that constantly. It takes a lot of energy. I make sure my vocals are very 'me' on my albums and on the street. But musically/stylistically, my heart lies with Bowie, Roxy Music, My Bloody Valentine, Prince, Scott Walker, Swans, Depeche Mode and Seal, of course, to name a handful. I have friends, family and fans tell me to compromise my vision as an artist and sellout. But I refuse to do that. As I said, I'm not obsessed with celebrity. But I'm obsessed with being the best artist I can be. After your dead, people don't care how rich you were, they only care how great and real you were. I'm the one looking in the mirror every night. I'm obsessed with pushing music genres forward and I honor the artists before me who have done that. I want the audience to meet me halfway. I'm not here to cater. So if I get something out of all this, like fame and money, I'll be eternally grateful, but it'll mostly be on my terms. I'm not a whore- there's a little too much of that these days, frankly. I'm just the guy who's happy that an artist he respected respected him.
Being an internet meme is strange in the sense that I now get recognized by people from all around the world. I busk where tourism is rampant and I get approached constantly because of my duet with Seal. A handful of people have given me the nickname 'The Gift' (after an article written about me last week). I usually hate nicknames, but with that one, I can't complain! Just the other day, I was approached by a group of Spanish girls yelling 'Jacion Deeh Pee'. I smiled shyly because I didn't know what else to do. I certainly feel more watched than before when I eat in a cafe, which is fine. I like it, but it's slightly jarring how many people approach me now. I try to savour it as much as I can. I try not to take it too seriously. I know it won't last.
Another thing, I'm a little stressed out that people will expect to hear this amazing voice when they see me. I can deliver, but just now I have a cold and a sore throat, so my voice is not sounding the best. Will I be judged this week when I busk?
I'm also shocked at how many positive comments the video got compared to negative ones. I was sure that people would of said that my voice sucked compared to Seal's (people love to talk in extremes online). But not a lot of people did. Almost no one did, actually. Most said, 'the busker can hold his own'. Awesome. But to answer the 1% of trolls who are asking if Seal planned this, the answer is 'no'. I know that, lately, Seal has approached two women buskers in England, interviewed them and had them open for his shows (I'm so jealous! Lol). It seems that after our little duet, Seal felt inspired to help buskers. Some have called him out by saying he just wants publicity, that it's a cynical thing. I can only confirm and comment about *our* duet, and I can sincerely say it was far from cynical. Obviously, Seal knew about the cameras filming us, but the duet almost didn't happen. Nobody was pushing it. We just fell into it. That's why I know that it wasn't planned. Seal just struck me as a sincere guy. And for those asking why Seal is so obsessed with buskers: Before fame, he was a busker too. He's just completing his life's circle. Anyway...
Thank you to everyone who told me awesome compliments. Thank you to everyone who shared the video and music from my band! It's very appreciated! Seriously. Thank you to the monkey (yes, a real one) who helped make it viral. Thank you to the folks who bought Scroll albums! Thank you to Seal! I hope to sing for you all soon!