Despite the growing success that singer-songwriter Allan Rayman has seen in recent years, there are multiple elements of his career path that don’t sit well with him. Rayman wants to send a warning to aspiring artists about the music industry — its bureaucracy, its rushed timeline, its impatience and its central headquarters. Rayman is wary of Los Angeles.
“I’m actually going to come home,” Rayman says. “I can’t stand it out here. I don’t fit in in L.A. I just miss my friends back home.”
Home is Toronto, the city where Rayman spent most of his life and where he started to play gigs in his early days while working construction. The nine to five job soon became overbearing and instead he began working three days a week driving a truck through Ontario, delivering cheese and meats all by his lonesome. The solitude gave him time to reflect and work on lyrics for songs like “Barry Moves,” but soon enough, the music took over.
Rayman insists that his debut album, Hotel Allan — an ode to rock legends the Doors’ Morrison Hotel — is his best work so far. Since then, the artist has dabbled with different sounds, dipping his toes into rock, R&B and hip hop-leaning production. While these projects touch upon various genres, Rayman says that they’re all a part of his plan.
“It’s a universe that I’m creating with the stories and I always try to go back to the beginning, all the time,” he says. “With Harry Hard-On, and with Courtney, and with Christian that’s coming next, essentially these are all the projects that Allan is writing up in solitude in the woods. Hotel and Roadhouse were just painting the picture for this guy who leaves town to write in the woods and these are the albums that he wrote.”
While Rayman’s musical persona may be cooped up alone in the woods working on his next album, the real-life Allan is getting ready to get back on tour with the continuation of “The Allan Rayman Show.” The singer hasn’t returned to Montreal since his frantic afternoon performance at Osheaga in 2018 where he proclaimed “I feel like I’m losing my mind, but I really like going crazy.”
“I definitely am,” he reaffirms over a year later, “but in a manageable capacity. I think everybody, to a certain extent, does. I definitely think once you start living a lifestyle that requires you to not have a day of the week mean anything anymore, I think that’s when you start kind of losing touch…You start living your life by events, you know? There’s no actual schedule.”
Festival gigs like Osheaga are vastly different from the Allan Rayman Shows, he says.
“It gets intense,” Rayman says. “It’s definitely intense. We’ve heard of people having to leave.”
While what exactly goes on at “The Allan Rayman Show” is as mysterious as the man who stars in them once was, some things are for sure. For one, once you enter the venue you have stepped into Rayman’s room, and he will treat it as such. As well, you can expect an illusionist to open up the show instead of an opening band, but he won’t be the only one with tricks up his sleeve. And, you can expect to be uncomfortable – very uncomfortable.
“Once their discomfort sets in, the whole thing’s on me,” he says. “I’m comfortable when they’re uncomfortable.” ■
Allan Rayman plays MTelus (59 Ste-Catherine E.) on Friday, Nov. 29, 8 p.m., $38.75