Singer-Songwriter Ian Guerin is making a name for himself in R&B.
Mexican R&B/Pop rising superstar, Ian Guerin, is a force to be reckoned in the industry. Guerin has been writing and performing since he was nine-years-old and he burst into the music charts with his first pop album MADSEXY in 2012 before transitioning into R&B with his new album Irreplaceable which was released in 2019.
Since 2014, Guerin has won 9 BEAT 100 Awards in the United Kingdom and an Akademia Award for Best R&B Soul Song in the United States for his single “Cry”. He’s topped the BEAT 100 United Kingdom World Chart three times with his singles “Pop This Jam,” “Free Time,” and “Roll the Dice”.
Ian Guerin recently discussed his musical career with Your Money Geek’s own Maggie Lovitt.
Maggie Lovitt (ML): You have been writing and performing since you were nine. What first inspired you?
Ian Guerin (IG): The need to vent. I’ve always been very sensitive so I hurt harder than average. I found a way to quiet those voices in my head through singing very early on and then came writing.
I remember penning my first song and feeling immediately lighter. Then, when I sang it, I felt a sense of healing—like everything was going to get better, even though nothing had really changed.
ML: Your debut album “MADSEXY” was a pop album, what inspired you to create an R&B album?
IG: R&B has always been the genre I've felt myself with. After I made “MADSEXY” I was satisfied with the overall result, but something felt off—I knew I needed to be and sound authentic to really thrive, so when I made “IRREPLACEABLE” I aimed to be 100% genuine. No trend-following, commercial considerations, or outside inputs about what was “best for me,” my career, or my sound. I wanted raw truths and timeless music.
I wanted to do an album I was proud of in every regard. I grew up listening to artists that had total control over their work, and who wasn't afraid to defy the odds. We’ve all been through the downfalls of love I talk about on “IRREPLACEABLE,” but most importantly I'm proud of it all as a body of work. People feel the words and the music because they’re free of false pretenses. “IRREPLACEABLE” is exactly the album I wanted to make since high school.
My sister, who is a filmmaker, is the one who's written and directed all my videos so far.
The idea behind “Free Time” was she wanted me to walk through iconic LA streets that featured notorious murals while reminiscing on the love I’d lost. She wanted it to feel as if I was wondering and walking with no apparent direction in search of answers—when she suddenly appears to put all I'm saying in the lyrics to the test.
IG: On “Roll the Dice” the idea was that I was friends with the model and I told her the story I tell in the lyrics about being in a failed relationship and being aware she had one too. Then, in the end, we come together to talk about our situations and fall in love because of that, which isn't exactly how the song plays out, but people have to listen to it to hear the real story.
ML: Do you feel like R&B is your niche? Do you have plans to explore other genres with your next album?
IG: It’s definitely the genre I enjoy most and the niche I’ve been more embraced by fans. I’m totally me within’ R&B; however, I don’t feel my music has ever been constrained by genres. You hear multiple styles on “IRREPLACEABLE,” because I have multiple influences. Therefore, the new music I’m readying will feature a mixture of genres like 70’s Disco, Lounge & Soul. I truly have no fear of trying new things or of crossing over as many times as I need to, as long as that doesn’t compromise my essence. Because that’s what people have become attached to.
ML: A lot of your music was clearly written about people in your life. Do you feel like love and heartbreak are easy emotions to tap into? Is that where your inspiration comes from?
IG: They are most definitely where my inspiration comes from. However, I don’t know if they are easy emotions to tap into or if it’s just that I’ve grown accustomed to tapping into them to create and release them through song. Maybe it’s hard for people who aren’t used to diving into them, but I’m very introspective so it comes naturally for me.
ML: When you get an idea for a song, are you a pen and paper writer, or do you use an app on your phone?
IG: I’m definitely a phone person. I use my voice notes app to record melodies, harmonies, or lines yet my creative process is intricate.
My demos have to sound exactly like the final recording because my producer uses them as a reference for post-production and mix. I record everything twice in full. First during the demo stage and then during the final session.
What I do is I finish the demo and then play it back till I learn it by heart. I then go to the studio and lay it down with the flow and freedom only a song you know off pat has.
I don’t read off the paper during the final session—reading distracts you from feeling. You have to have everything encrypted in your mind so you can feel it in your heart, that’s what sets the greats aside from the average. They don’t focus on doing it right, they focus(ed) on expressing it naturally.
ML: How did you react when you got your first #1? Who was the first person you called?
IG: I literally jumped and did a celebration dance. I didn’t call anybody, because it was 4 AM. I remember posting the chart on Facebook so my fans were the first to know; I told my mom and dad first thing the next morning.
ML: In recent years the music industry has really been evolving, especially when it comes to musicians owning their own music. How important is it for you to have control over what you create?
IG: It is pivotal. In fact, I have a lot of reservations about releasing music I don’t own 100%.
I know master ownership is a make or break; thus, I only take on projects I don’t control when I’m really invested in them. Plus total control over your work guarantees the preservation of your quality standards. I don’t imagine a world in which someone tells me the kind of artist, musician, or songwriter I have to be to succeed. I know who I am and where I’m going; hence, I like to have the final word on everything that’s released in my name to get there. Again, that’s how the greats did and continue doing it. I think it’s the only way to create a legacy.
ML: Do you have any advice for aspiring performers? Is there anything you wish you had known when you first broke into the industry?
IG: I wish I’d known how long and how hard it would be to make it to those first relevant steps of the staircase. Therefore, my advice to them is: don’t waste time on wishful thinking, get to work. Listen only to the advice of people you respect. Don’t listen to people who tell you you need a backup plan. Stick to your artistic essence. Don’t try to be anybody but yourself. Everybody else is taken. There can only be one you so know yourself and your music well and take a leap.
ML: With COVID-19 turning everyone to social media, do you have any plans to do a live concert on your Instagram or special jam sessions?
IG: I did a jam session for fans in Australia with incredible performers from down under and the U.K.—I’m doing a second date on May 9th. I’m also planning a show on Instagram and another on Facebook in association with other performers. Plus I got word about the possibility of performing in support of gay homeless kids of America so I’m absolutely looking forward to that. Whatever I can do to help I’m open to doing.
ML: How have you been handling quarantine? Have you been working on new music?
IG: I’ve kept myself pretty busy. I’ve had a lot of interviews and meetings about different projects and collaborations. I've got over 6 collaborations pending or in the works and I’ve also been working on my new single which will be out the minute this is over.
I’ve been fortunate because a busy mind is a healthy mind and days have gone fast for me. There’s this one collaboration I was invited to do that’s got my mind blown and I think fans are really going to enjoy it—I don’t think they've heard me like this before.
ML: Are there any artists you would love to collaborate with?
IG: Yes, in the independent arena I’d love to work with Emma Gale. Her debut single is perfection. I’d love to sing a song of hers and this is a first for me. I usually sing my own material or offer to co-write, but when I heard her single I knew I had to keep my hands off of it and let her write it.
Mainstream-wise it’s got to be Tony Bennett, Ariana Grande, Mariah, or Will. i. am. I’d love to sing a standard with Tony and I’ve written songs I’d love to have Ari, MC, and Will on—they’re four different projects.
ML: Do you have any big dreams you’re trying to manifest into reality?
IG: Yes, I always do. I totally believe we are energy, and that we can hold in our hands whatever we see in our minds. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t like to discuss them, because I don’t want energy to dilute, as my mother puts it. I can tell you this: my heart is open for business and I’m ready to take the world by storm. I need these dreams to materialize so I can have a voice that can really make a change.
ML: You’re having dinner, who are the five people you’re inviting. They can be dead, alive, or fictional.
IG: Ariana Grande, Jack Nicholson, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, and Bojack Horseman. I can totally imagine myself walking into the room holding hands with Ariana and Bojack third-wheeling while he gets angry at Charlie, we all agree with Jack and are mesmerized by his charm and Judy and Charlie tell amazing stories about the glamourous olden days when legends were active. God that would be out of control.
ML: What’s next?
IG: First and foremost, surviving the pandemic and helping others survive it too. Then my new single, my new video and hopefully press and concert tours. I can’t wait to meet my fans in person.
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