ZANDER BLECK WON’T LET ANYTHING STOP HIM FROM ROCKIN’
PHOTOS / THOMAS SAGE
STORY / ANGIE PICCIRILLO
You’ve probably heard friends who are either in-favor or totally against the major music labels — maybe you’ve heard horror stories or major successes about the artists who work with them — but really only one thing is certain, working with them is a major gamble for both the artist and the label. And like any relationship, sometimes they don’t work out that great or you might just be “dating” the wrong label….
Former fashion model and multifaceted musician Zander Bleck had all the makings of a rock-recipe destined for success: he worked with producer RedOne and was signed to both Interscope and Capitol records, and was said to have a voice that was a mixture of Jim Morrison, Bono AND Freddie Mercury, plus, his face is gorgeous — what could have gone wrong, right?
After an executive shakeup, the gamble with the labels turned sideways and Zander never got to officially be introduced to the world to see and hear… After releasing a self-titled album in 2009, and a few scattered singles in the subsequent years, “Mercy Me” is his first single of 2018. The single hopefully leads what will be Zander’s official introduction to music fans worldwide — a moment that Zander feels is long overdue.
Despite the stop-and-go, trying difficulties Zander endured, he wasn’t going to let anyone stop him from letting the world hear his music: “I have certainly had my fair share of wild ups and downs in this journey. The stop-go, stop-go process that not only [me], but many artists go through, can be excruciating and debilitating — but if you can survive that, believe in yourself, you can do anything,” Zander says.
The official music video for “Mercy Me” has all the throwback vibes of a 1980’s George Michael but with a twist of modern-day rock — it’s also possible that Zander is a few levels hotter than even George Michael was in his heyday. But if you really wanna see raw talent at its’ finest, check out Zander’s Live acoustic version of the song — which really showcases his voice, and the soul of the song.
You grew up helping to interview musicians on your father’s local radio show – what did you learn about musicians during that process? Are there any stories you remember about helping interviewing anyone who really inspired you?
I learned the value of being yourself. So many of these artists were unique characters and that was what made them captivating. I wanted to find out whatever that magic inside me was. Also, to be gracious, resilient, and to work hard.
Tell us about your experience modeling… what types of brands or things did you model for? Runway experiences? What did you ultimately take away from modeling that you now use in your music career?
It was a silly and amazing way to travel the world and pay my bills as a young man. I modeled for lots of different brands, Diesel, Armani, ETRO etc. Did the whole European circuit, shot for some amazing magazines, worked with great photographers. It really was my college experience you might say and got my foot in the door to not only New York City, but also the entertainment business. It was such a cutthroat and shallow business it taught me perseverance and resilience — I had to be truly confident with myself to survive.
You met RedOne and Jimmy Iovine early on, and then seemingly had to take a stop to your career while labels / contracts got sorted… did this time period teach you anything? How did you feel after you seemingly had a great start and then had to take a break?
Jimmy and RedOne are probably two of the most influential figures I had early in my career; Jimmy is an all around amazing man, and I hung onto every word he would say.; RedOne taught me a ton about the business and took me under his wing in regards to how to write a great song.
RedOne has described you as “a mixture of Jim Morrison, Bono, and Freddie Mercury” – how does that make you feel? Do you think that comparison is correct? Are there other artists you liken yourself to?
Talk about legends… That’s probably the best accolade any rock singer could ask for! I think a lot of the spirit those guys have and had, is really missing in today’s music. All I can do is my best to light up those flames that have for too long burned low and dim..
What inspired the song, “Mercy Me”?
I wanted to write a love song to the music biz — An ode to her forever illusive ways. I also wanted to explore a style of production that I’ve always really loved. It’s a mix of a lot of my favorite songs and sounds put together in a modern fun way. It wrote itself quickly and I knew right away it was something special for me.
What inspired the music video for “Mercy Me”?
Just like the song itself, I wanted to pay homage to some of my favorite vintage videos and artists. It’s a little A-ha, little Peter Gabriel, a little INXS. I didn’t want to take myself too seriously and capture the light hearted fun so many of those early videos had.
The video seems to have some throwback vibes of George Michael’s “Faith” – do you think your music is inspired visually / sonically by the 1980s?
So many iconic vocalists and songwriters from that era. Artists were artists in the greatest sense of the word — There is something revealing and vulnerable about shooting on a bright white backdrop. That was definitely an influence.
What’s next for you?
I feel I’m in an amazing artistic place, I am grateful to be here. I have a feeling things are going to grow quite nicely and I will be putting out more and more music. I am very excited to start performing these new songs live. The best is yet to come…
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