Joel Christian is an artist on the cusp of the pop music scene, establishing his own narrative and unique style in the dark-pop genre. Known for his music video “Rise From The Grave,” Christian’s fresh breed of pop identity is built from a myriad of horror aesthetics, dark fantasy, electronic pop, and a definite ‘80s club vibe that listeners can’t get enough of. Christian has garnered fans in over 40 countries that utilize his music as a form of escapism from everyday life. We sat down with Joel to talk about his newest single, “Hell Raiser” and the meaningful intentions behind his music. Read below for the inside scoop!
You just released “Hell Raiser”… what was the inspiration behind that song?
Joel Christian: “I really wanted to write a record that made me feel confident and powerful at the time. A record that others could listen to and escape into their own fantasies. I remember my endless nights dancing at gay clubs with my best friends, being confident on the dance floor, and fearless within my identity. I wanted to have a record that my fans could play and feel as if they were on the stage, dancing, and they were the rockstar! That is what ‘Hell Raiser’ means to me – it’s owning your confidence as an individual and dancing your fears away. Nothing and no one can stop you.”
How is this song different from your previous release “Rise From The Grave”? How does it continue the story of your artistry?
“I think this song is definitely more of an anthem of freedom and back to the roots of what I love which is contagious dance-pop music. ‘Rise from the Grave’ was a song I wrote dealing with the pain and struggle of my anxiety of being creative and not being afraid of who I was. My anxiety had dragged me so far into the ground that I didn’t know I could survive until my creativity thrived. ‘Hell Raiser’ is the shedding of that anxiety. In some ways, I released the demons in my previous track and find the light in this one. Now I’m ready to dance and show the world the superstar I am. I would say though, all of my songs still have a touch of darkness to them, but they all fall into the realm of my electronic artistry. I love making music that’s exhilarating to my fans, but also makes you curious about who I am.”
What’s your favorite lyric in “Hell Raiser”?
“Hmm… that’s tough! I would say I love ‘I’m not obsessed with you, I’m just possessed by you. By fire and light, I pray, take my fear way.’ I wanted it to sound like a dark prayer. It was a prayer I was writing to my music and myself. I’m not obsessed with who I am, I’m possessed by it. I am exactly who I was born to be. My creativity within my music controls me beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. I know the power I have within me, I just need my fears to be taken away so I can keep creating.”
Your visuals are a key element to the music you release. Can you give us some insight into the creative process behind the visuals?
“I love visually creating things that bring out the imagination of the records I make. Whenever I write a song – I see it in my head visually. Every time I’m in the studio with my producer, I tell him that this is what is happening in the song or I already have come up with the album artwork. You see to me, all of the songs I write are not just songs. They’re actual stories I see in my head. With ‘Rise from the Grave’ – I thought of a song that was a fight between my anxiety and me, then I was like let’s shoot the music video in a boxing arena. I just constantly am building ideas and concepts to execute with the music. I will never release a song without visuals that entice you. That’s just not the artist I am. I’d rather just not release it haha.”
How do the visuals further tell the story of your music?
“My visuals are my formal welcoming invitation to my fans. It’s my way of saying ‘hey come into my imagination.’ I want my visuals to be a trigger to your curiosity. I think if you can see what I’m seeing as much as possible – you would want to escape into my music as well.”
What inspired the visuals for “Hell Raiser”? How does it relate to the song?
“With ‘Hell Raiser,’ I wanted it to be all black and blue because those were colors that symbolized a bruise to me. I wanted it to be the song that I fought for – the song that is my resurrection back into my truest self. I wanted to use lightning as symbolism to Frankenstein becoming alive, flames as a Phoenix rises from their ashes, and a cross to show all different symbolisms of resurrections. The artwork was created by an artist that took all my inspiration of ‘80s electronic art, dystopian fonts, and made it into something unique. The photography was shot by my good friend, Cassidy Bliss Cooper who executed the imagery perfectly and loves my crazy ideas. The promo video was shot by James Wolk who captured the energy of my artistry in all of its forms. You see, I’m not a perfect artist – I like taking risks, I like chaotic movement, I like breaking the rules, and I love captivation when it comes to imagery.”
What do you hope your music gives to fans?
“I want my music to inspire others to be themselves. That’s it. I say it all the time, but to me, we all have magic within ourselves and sometimes we are too afraid to show it. For so many years I was made fun of, rejected, and most of all I beat myself up for being ‘different.’ Pop music always allowed me to have safety and escapism from my realities. It was the most powerful energy I had ever felt when I wrote my first track, performed it, and heard people sing it. I want my music to push you to never give up and always chase your dreams.”
What can fans expect next?
“I have so many things I am working on. They need to get ready for an album that is like no other. An album that will make them dance and get lost in a story that is beautiful, tragic, and inspiring all at the same time. I will be releasing another single in June, as well as a music video – then my debut album will follow!”