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Ian Nelson

Interview: Jordan Arthur

Photo Credit: Collin Stark

ReVamp is thrilled to welcome back actor and musician Ian Nelon. Since his first conversation with Pankhuri back in June, Ian has gone on to release his third single ‘Elouise’ which we delve into in this new interview for ReVamp. Ever-gracious in his candour, we talk his new music, inspirations, and breaking out as an artist in LA.

Hello Ian, welcome back to ReVamp! You join us just as you’re about to release your brand new single ‘Elouise’ on October 1st. Can you give us a picture of what the feeling’s like as you wait for a new song to drop?

I feel amazing.“Elouise” just means so much to me, and I am excited for people to hear it and see the music video.

For me, the song has such an elemental feel to it, with a particular focus on water and motion, which that was reflected in the incredible music video. What were some of the challenges involved in pulling off such a raw video? Singing underwater strikes me as especially difficult...

The video was the biggest undertaking of my career. The whole thing was mostly made by two people—myself and director Collin Stark, which I think makes it all the more impressive.

The hardest day was definitely the bonfire sequence in Joshua Tree. A friend of ours—LA artist Louis Carreon— let us use his ranch in Joshua Tree. We woke up at the crack of dawn and drove out, with about 1200 pounds of wood in the back of Collin’s truck.

Once we arrived, we walked around the land and realized that the perfect spot to build the bonfire was at the top of this mountain. So we hiked all 1200 pounds of wood to the top of the mountain. No joke. It took all day. But it was so worth it.

When we lit the fire, the wind was blowing hysterically, which made the first two takes of shooting truly terrifying. But that’s what we wanted. We didn’t want the fire to feel like a campfire. We wanted it to feel dangerous—like this passion was being unleashed. And I feel so proud that the rawness can be felt in the music video.

Another challenge was building the rain room set. Collin and I constructed that from scratch in his backyard. It truly is stunning and completely unique.

Funny enough, the water tank was the easiest day of the shoot. But it was also very empowering, because up til then, I was very resistant to open my eyes under water. So about a month before shooting began, I put myself in a sort of “training” at home in my bathtub—just so I felt as comfortable as possible acting/singing underwater.

‘Elouise’ joins your previous singles ‘21st Century Love’ and ‘Unfinished Conversations’ in having a sense of character and story run through it. Do you think it it’s the actor in you that draws you to music with a storytelling angle?

Absolutely. While writing and recording, I am always thinking of the emotional arc of the song. “Unfinished Conversations” specifically was a very cinematic song. I wanted it to feel like the middle of the night, and I wanted there to be a tangible growth in the subject’s perspective by the end.

But not every song has to have that kind of literal arc. “Elouise” was inspired by a dream. It’s more abstract—far less literal.

In my experience, when I dream, my emotions contain an overpowering totality—more so than in my waking state. And that is how I wanted “Elouise” to feel. I wanted it to feel ethereal and passionate—like a longing for the most magical dream you’ve ever had, but one you know you can never return to.

And the actor in me definitely thrives whether I’m in the recording booth or on the stage, because I get to play this character and express all the love in the world for a girl I used to know named Elouise. Particularly when I’m on stage live, there is a visceral rawness in how we play “Elouise” that sometimes transports me to a magical place where my whole body begins buzzing—much like how I’ve felt in dreams.

I think that’s why I love making music videos so much—because it combines all of my passions into one creation: music, acting, dance, and film.

Speaking of acting, you’ve appeared in some massive projects including the amazing The Judge (Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall) and a fave of mine, Teen Wolf. Do you see these two parts of your career, acting and music, running side by side going forward?

Definitely. Music makes me a better actor and acting makes me a better musician. Simple as that. My job is to constantly be growing as an artist. Whether it’s acting in a film or performing live with my band at The Viper Room, the goal is always the same: to expand and get better.

Folks can catch you performing live at venues including Hotel Café and Viper Room. What’s been your experience of getting into the LA music scene? Are there any potential collaborations on the horizon?

I’ve loved performing live around LA. I’ve met some amazing artists and I think it’s likely to see some collaborations come out of it. I am also so amazed by the music history in Los Angeles. To be able to perform on the stages that some of my musical heroes performed on is both humbling and inspiring.

Following on from that, the performing arts sector has been particularly impacted by the pandemic. It must be a thrill to return to live gigging?

I had never performed live with my band prior to the Pandemic, so I can’t speak on that. I can say that the last year and a half was a confusing and fascinating time in my life filled with pain and isolation but so much growth.

I stayed in LA and was by myself for most of last year. It got really dark, but I promised myself I wouldn’t give up and that I would fight like Hell every day to come out of the Pandemic better off than when I went in. Looking back, I can honestly say I did that.

People ask me all the time for advice on how to be a musician or actor—and I think that’s my advice: when the world is falling apart; when you’re all alone; when no one gives a shit about giving you a job...what do you do? Do you quit? Caus if the answers yes, reconsider being an artist.

Finally, after three singles the obvious question emerges... Might there be an album on the way? And what can you tell us about it?

Yes! I am working on an album now. I am excited for you all to hear these songs. There are some special ones for sure.

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