A little less than a year after arriving in Vancouver, gay pop singer Alan A. has not only left the building, he has left the country.
Not that he hasn’t enjoyed his time here: “I found Vancouver is a very open-minded city… I was always accepted for who I am, both as a gay man and as a singer”, he says, “I stayed in Vancouver almost a year, as I needed to retreat and spend some time working on some musical projects and rest.”
While Vancouverites may tend towards being open-minded is not a surprise, the idea that coming to this city would be a good way to retreat and relax might be more of one. That is, however, exactly what Alan A. was looking for when he came here, and he seems to have found it, declaring that he will return to London “rested and ready to rock the city!” While in Vancouver he also managed to find what most independent artists crave: confirmation that he’s doing the right thing with his life, “it also comforted me in the fact that I will not stop and music is what I want to do.”
Despite the rest he found here, he also managed to keep busy, independently releasing two singles and music videos to boot. Unlike singers with a label backing them, all the work from production to promotion fell to Alan A. as he released the singles Pleasure and then, more recently, Come Over, a song about a gay man who is used to being bullied for who he is, while one of his bullies acts straight around his friends, but then becomes a lover in private.
“I like to play with taboos like these in my songs,” he says, “and gay men know well these kind of guys are everywhere!”
All of Alan’s work is very open about his sexuality – in fact, he named the album Ambiguity because, he says, “there is none with me!”
Unfortunately, while he may have been accepted in Vancouver for his work, he did struggle with censorship online, from Facebook. The cause of his trouble with the social media behemoth was the cover image for Come Over, which depicted a torso with the title spelled out in semen. He was forced to remove this as his cover image on his page, and banned from buying Facebook ads.
“My lyrics, just like my album covers and costumes are sexy and sexual but not shocking to the older or younger crowd on purpose,” Alan says on this censorship, providing the example of his young nieces, who don’t see the sexual overtones of the imagery, seeing instead that the semen spelling out Come Over as simply melting letters. “All this is perfectly thought beforehand, and to be censored by Facebook, while they allow boobs, bum, and bulges all over their pages is just disappointing.”
Not that these challenges have gotten in the way of his work, however, “As soon as my first single was released, I was working non-stop on the second one, and on the video, so I haven’t had time to myself”, he says when asked what changed for him between releasing the two singles. “But Pleasure kind of showed me the ropes and for the release of Come Over it went a little smoother as I knew better what to do.”
Now he’s set with a new project: writing an advent calendar album for the month of December. “It was last year at Christmas time that I came up with the idea of an Alan A. Advent calendar with a surprise each day, whether a photo, a video, or a song”, he says on the inspiration for the series. After spending a year pondering the idea he narrowed it down, and from December 1-26 he will be releasing one-minute songs each day, with a video, all themed after the letters of the alphabet.
While the songs won’t necessarily be Christmas themed, “December 24th will host the letter X, and a song called X-Mas sounds like the logical next step!” The themes fo the songs are more likely to focus around acceptance and diversity, issues that are of great importance to Alan as an artist.
In fact, the one thing that Alan A. would like people to know about his work is that “behind the sexy outfits and the cheeky songs, there’s also someone who fights for gay rights.” He is devoted to supporting British organization Stonewall that provides support to young people coming into their own sexuality, giving portions of his touring procedes to the charity, and plans to bring this more to the forefront in his next album, due for release in 2013.
Andrea is a theatre-maker, yoga instructor, writer and ally to the LGBTQ community in Vancouver. She spends her days as the Communications Manager for Pacific Theatre, and is Co-Artistic Producer for Xua Xua Productions, a founding member of Les Petites Taquines Dance Theatre, and the marketing chair for the Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards Society. She writes a weekly column for VancouverisAwesome.com and freelances as a yoga instructor and choreographer. When she has some down time she enjoys some green tea and quality time with her cat, Miss Gertie Marie.