Balan and Bilan are not two people alike
The founder of the popular Moldavian band O-Zone, Dan Balan is now known as a solo singer all over the world. His new ‘Chica Bomb’ video outranks the number of downloads of Madonna’s latest dance hit ‘Celebration’. The official video on YouTube – about 6,5 million views. After the boy-band O-Zone, which was mega successful in Russia (it was even fashionable to joke that one should be born with a surname like Bilan to become popular), broke up in 2005, Dan Balan became thoroughly engrossed in music experiments on the American continent. Last Sunday ‘Megabit’ met Dan in Moscow office of his record company. The singer told us about his Soviet childhood, the causes why O-Zone split up and his new life.
Our childhood comes from the USSR. Those times it was the same everywhere. What Soviet pop star did you, such a stylish guy, admire?
– Pugacheva had good songs… And who else was there?
Rotaru, ‘Tsvety’ (‘The Flowers’), Leontyev…
– In kindergarten we used to compete who can say faster, “And everybody runs, runs, runs, runs, runs, runs, runs, runs, runs, runs, runs”. I remember, in childhood I had an audio cassette of a singer Caroline, she sang ‘My little prince’. At the age of 12 I liked a band ‘Carmen’ best. Lemoh with that hairstyle, dances, it was such fashion! I wanted to have running shoes like his ones, ‘Nike’ or ‘Reebok’ and to dance in them. I can also remember ‘Malchishnik’ (‘A stag party’). But I listened to Russian rock music most: ‘DDT’, ‘Nautilus Pompilius’…
The O-Zone band was extremely popular. Was it hard to give it up?
– It was joyfully. I do not want to talk bad about the other members of O-Zone, we are connected with years of working together. The boys were young, international popularity fell on them too quickly, you know what follows next…After great success we had to make further steps and a next album – it had to be absolutely new. It required much more work. And at that moment it was almost impossible to work with the artists.
Star fever, parties, friends, love affairs, alcohol, drugs?
– With respect to my former colleagues, in a general way the reason was that.
How about self-criticism?
– If something goes wrong or has gone wrong I always admit it. The first O-Zone was very popular in Moldova. It was my first try, and in the very first album there were 7 hits. It is still said to be the best-selling album in the history of Moldova. Next I decided to make a project much stronger to get to the Romanian market. No Moldavian artist had managed to do it before. Then I called Radu and Arsenie (that was the group you know) and we began to work. That was when I made a big mistake! I was still young and after great success I got a feeling that I’m peculiar. During the pause between the first and the second O-Zone’s album many people thought that the group didn’t exist anymore. I would come home and find only 3 messages instead of 130, and it seemed as everybody had forgotten about me. The second O-Zone’s album wasn’t popular. We made the video for ‘Numai tu’ and even signed in Romania. But not a song was a success. Because there where many hits on the first album I thought that anything I would write will be popular. I didn’t concentrate as a producer on that it had to be new, didn’t take the market in account. That story taught me that success may go up in smoke. I understood my mistakes and changed all O-Zone’s music, made the song ‘Despre tine’ – laru-lara-ley – in Romania, and big success came at once.
When did you feel you wanted to go to New York?
– Right after O-Zone split up I went to Los Angeles. I have always had a dream to record a real rock album. I read how Guns’N’Roses, Metallica recorded their songs and wanted to do the same. I was working for 2 years with a super team and made a true underground album at the world’s best studios. Then I created a new project – an unusual character Crazy Loop. He was some kind of a wizard for children and parents. Children from the countries where we launched him loved this character very much. We made two videos for him – Johanna and Mm-ma-ma. I created special dance moves for him, he was completely different from how I behave in the real life. It was my alter ego: I put on glasses and become another person. And now we are launching completely different music for other audience. I’d like to make a cool project, dance, sexy, fashion.
Meanwhile there’s a strange album in the Internet…
– Last year a Moldavian mobile company wanted to include my album into their package sales. But the album wasn’t ready yet. Then we decided to make a trick – to call the disc “Crazy Loop Mix”, to add there Crazy Loop songs, completely new tracks and some rock ballads. We made that only for Moldova. The album I’m preparing now will be in one style with “Chica Bomb”.
The “Chica Bomb” song has become popular immediately. At the same time there is not Dan Balan’s voice to which audience has got used to. You do not sing there. Does it mean that the popularity of a song doesn’t depend on whether you sing or not?
– It is just a little factor – whether you sing or not – is not at all related to the popularity of a song. If you listen attentively, I sing all the refrain and there are only two words. The main thing is in a swinging monotony. When I was making this song I sang more in it – in both refrain and verses. But then I, as a producer, thought that a sexy woman’s voice and my words “chico” or “chic-chic” and “chico bomb” is much more interesting, it’s stylish.
Does it mean it was necessary to leave Los Angeles for that?
– Firstly, I moved to New York because it’s closer to Europe. And I had to go to there very often because of Crazy Loop. Secondly, because of the climate. In youth I had to spend two years in Tel Aviv with my parents. And I learned that I cannot live where it is always warm. For example, it’s November, but it is still warm out, and it is the same with January! And you feel a weight sits heavy on your heart all the time. I got used to the fact that it is cold in January and I adore off-season , when everything blooms in spring and turns yellow in autumn. I will never live there, where there is always heat, I need four seasons.