Global artist and DJ/MC, Ian Erix, is making his mark in the music industry. He started his career as a DJ/MC at nine years old, and signed his first record deal at age 12 with Lou Pearlman. Since then, he has become popular with audiences for his savvy fashion of platform sneakers, multi-colored hair, and trademark sunglasses…as well as his fantastic music! He’s landed on several Top Ten on three continents.
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His latest single Shangri-La topped one million views on YouTube and broke into YouTube’s Top 40 pop charts in Europe. In addition to his accomplishments in music, Ian is currently doing short film for his new music quadrilogy, Graffiti on My Heart.
When did you move from New York to the UK?
“I never actually officially moved to the UK, but since one of my first record deals was based out of Denmark, I began traveling to Europe, U.K., and other countries around the world. I always return to my family home on Long Island, New York though. I live about 30 minutes outside of New York City near the beach.”
Tell us about your first DJ job.
“I started DJing when I was nine years old, and it actually happened by accident. My brother was having a birthday party and I somehow became the de facto host when I took charge of the sound system and started playing music and talking on the mic. Next thing I knew, I was hosting birthday parties for all the neighborhood kids and eventually graduated to DJing and hosting bar/batmitvahs, sweet sixteen and corporate parties.
“Looking back it’s hard to believe I was really just nine when it all started. People had to have been totally nuts to trust a tiny little pipsqueak like me to run their events! I DJed and MCed all through my teens and eventually started creating my own songs and guesting on some radio programs in New York. From there I was able to get management and some label interest and take things to the next level.”
Your single, ‘Shangri-La’ hit over one million views on YouTube. That must be really exciting.
“Yes, Shangri-La has done really well in some countries; I was super stoked about that. We passed two million views on VEVO now and when you add up the fact that we only did just a tiny bit of promo for that track and the label didn’t give it any push in America, that response is awesome!
“The song is a bit tongue-in-cheek and a little out of the box but it’s totally a fun summer tune and I was really happy that I was able to tour it around Europe this past summer and got such a positive response to it!”
Tell us about your quadrilogy Graffiti on My Heart.
“Sure, I’d love to! Grafitti on My Heart is a short film that I wrote based on some personal experiences I’ve been through in my own crazy life. It touches on abuse, dealing with major losses, and ultimately rising above it all, standing up for yourself, and being your own person.
“The anthology will be broken into four music videos based around four songs off my upcoming album. I wrote the treatment and script, and co-produced the videos so it was a pretty ambitious project for me. I think I’m equal parts nervous and excited now to see how it’s turns out.
“We just wrapped shooting in L.A. a few days ago and I’m about a week and half away from seeing the first cut; fingers crossed that it’s epically awesome and not epically disappointing [laughs]. I have a good feeling, but a lot could go right or a lot could go wrong in the editing room. I probably won’t sleep very well for the next ten days until I see the first edit.”
Did you design your look? What does it represent?
“What you see with me is what you get! I pretty much look the same at the supermarket with my 91-year-old grandmother as I do on stage or at a promo event. My look is all me.
“I’ve always been my own stylist. I never really designed much about it. By that I mean that I didn’t set out to create something unique or come up with any ideas about how I should set myself apart or anything like that, if that’s what you’re asking. I’ve just always dressed and styled myself in a way that I thought was cool despite what was in or out of fashion at the time.
“I never cared too much about what other people might think about me and that’s pretty much it. When people ask me to put a name on my style I say I’m a mutt because I’m a mish-mash of all kinds of things. There isn’t really one particular label that I think totally defines me. I’m just me…a mutt!”
Tell us about working with Lou Perlman.
“Where to start with that one [laughs]? I landed one of my first major management and development deals with Lou’s company, Trans Continental Records in Orlando Florida, pretty early in my career. It was a really exciting time for me. I was just starting out and TransCon had already broken some huge pop talent, so it was the place to be for teens at the time. Most of my dealings at first were not with Lou directly. I was originally signed by one of his executives, but I was flown out to Orlando and got to know Lou a bit over the three years I was signed to his company.
“When he came to New York, I met him at his hotel and drove with him, alone, to the Jingle Ball concert at Madison Square Garden. He was always friendly to me and liked to joke and laugh a lot.
“I’ve heard the stories from some other guys who were signed to TransCon who have been out in the media talking about alleged molestation and crazy stuff that happened back then. I can’t comment on how true or false those stories are, but in my case, anytime I was alone with Lou, there wasn’t anything like that happening to me.
“Unfortunately, when it came to my music career with Lou and Trans Cont, there really wasn’t anything happening with that either [laughs]. Lou and his team didn’t really seem to get my style or understand me as a solo artist. I guess they must have seen some of my raw talent…why else would they have signed me? They kept trying to push me into joining different boy bands, or changing my image in significant ways, or singing other people’s songs. Who knows, maybe they were right, because the truth is, my songwriting is way stronger now than it was back then and I definitely have way better style now than I did in the ninth grade [laughs].
“I was always very headstrong and didn’t want to compromise artistically, and when I refused to play ball and fit their cookie cutter boy-band mold, things didn’t go too smoothly for me. I was kept on contract for a long while so I couldn’t go anywhere else, but they didn’t do anything for me but waste my time and make a lot of empty promises.
“In the end it was a good learning experience for me. I ended up making a bunch of contacts in Europe during my time with TransCon; contacts that helped me kick off my career overseas after my contract expired. I also became good friends with one of Lou’s assistants, who I’m still in touch with to this day.
“When all the dust settled after my contract ran out, Lou ended up being sent to prison for 25 years for masterminding a billion dollar Ponzi scheme, so I guess it was for the best that I was a free agent by that time.”
We also understand you will be part of a video game.
“It’s a really dope music-based project from some of the same developers that were involved in creating Guitar Hero and Rock Band. I play the lead character via motion capture – I put in a ton of work training for stunts in a harness four stories in the air, and I recorded motion capture sequences in Japan, Hong Kong, and India over the past four years but the production company has been plagued with problems for a while now.
“It all started with the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. The company took a major hit from that; they lost production and development facilities in the tragedy and never recovered financially. I’m still hopeful that the game will get out there after all the blood, sweat and tears we’ve all put in but I can’t say for sure yet. We are on a wait-and-see holding pattern. Every quarter I check in and I get told it’s not cancelled, which is a good thing, but it also doesn’t have a scheduled release date yet… Basically I’ve just been left to wonder about it and keep my fingers crossed that the next time I get an update will be the time they say it’s finally going to be launched!”
What is the Mutt Army?
“The whole idea of being a mutt came from a single from an unreleased pop-punk album I recorded a few years ago called What Is Normal? The song was called ‘So Scene, So See Through.’ The lyrics talked about being tired of being labeled and about how I didn’t fit into one single box. The lyrics to the bridge go, ‘I’m a Mutt. I’m all mixed up. I’m a mutt so what? Screwed up!’ From that lyric came the idea that most people are mutts who don’t necessarily have to fit into just one category. We should all be able to express ourselves freely, be ourselves, and embody a variety of different labels at the same or different times without corrupting this whole categorization system that our society is so obsessed with. From that idea, the Mutt Army was born.
“In a way it might be slightly hypocritical, because defining yourself as a mutt might actually in turn be giving you a whole new label but the broad idea of it is supposed to be the antithesis of labeling. The Mutt Army is made up of people from all walks of life who enjoy my music and don’t always fit into society’s mold. We are the misfit minds, freethinkers, dream chasers, freedom lovers and renegades.”
Do you have a few fun and interesting stories about being a DJ and making your music that you can share with our readers?
“That’s a crazy broad question. I’ve got a ton of stories, but one of my all-time favorite OMG moments is probably when I was in Brazil a couple years ago. I was on stage in front of the largest crowd of my life! It was Copacabana Beach in Rio and there were over 2.5 million people packed into that New Year’s Eve Show. I went out on stage a bit before David Guetta and it was pandemonium. There’s really no preparing for a crowd that size. It’s pretty absurd actually, and mostly unheard of.
“The biggest pop acts who play in huge stadiums around the world will play to a crowd of a hundred thousand or a couple hundred thousand people at the very max and those are incredibly HUGE and impressive shows. But being in front of a live audience of nearly 3 million people is just totally ridiculous and a whole another level. There are just a few shows in the history of the world that have ever reached that kind of magnitude and they are all listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. The majority of them are at the Reveille venue in Brazil where our New Year’s show was. It’s very cool for me to be part of that history.
“On top of getting to play my single, I was selected to honor the city of Rio de Janeiro with a special award for their over-the-top and awesome New Year’s Eve celebration. The next day it was amazing to see my myself splashed across the front page of a ton of South American newspapers.”