Introducing Alexander Jean
We talked to Mark and BC on a whim. Alexander Jean isn’t embarking on a tour just yet. In fact, they’re spoon-feeding their music out to the world one tune at a time. But the song “Roses and Violets” has had an immediate impact. It appeared on “Duck Dynasty” for the simple reason that two stars of the show loved the song so much they asked it to be performed at their wedding – which meant it also got broadcast to millions of viewers.
This couple – and yes, if you’re a follower of celebrity magazines, they are a couple – has established pedigrees. BC Jean is known for co-writing Beyoncé’s No. 1 single “If I Were A Boy,” while Ballas was the winner of MTV’s Freshman Five in 2011 and that year’s MTV “Artist To Watch.” He made his solo debut last year with “Get My Name.” Still, most of you know him as a professional ballroom dancer on “Dancing With The Stars.”
It also turned out that the song “Roses & Violets” began with the help of Stephan Moccio. He had success with Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” a co-songwriting credit that took Moccio from Canada to his new home, Los Angeles.
I couldn’t find much about Alexander Jean online. Whose idea was that?
Mark: I think that was a tactic we kind of came up with together. You know it’s not even a tactic. It was just wanting the music to speak for itself. I feel like we’re in a time and an age where people are so forced with social media and all that stuff and it can be overbearing. Sometimes it’s nice to just discover something the way we used to, when we were kids, when we heard something for the first time and wanted to figure it out. You’d go get the record, or find some kind of presence online, or see them in your favorite magazine.
BC: There’s no mystery anymore. Mystery is sexy, sometimes. And we wanted to keep it this way – for a little bit, you know?
You have a very well-produced song. How did “Roses & Violets” come about, and are there any more tracks due out soon?
BC: Well, the song was generated from a piano track from a guy named Stephan Moccio. I went into a writing session with him during a CMI writing camp. He had been wanting to write with me for quite some time so he had saved this piece of music, which was pretty much “Roses & Violets.” It was a little looser but there were some things we tightened up. It was such a magical piano piece, I was instantly hooked. An hour later we created the topline to it. Stephan is an amazing composer.
My thing was I wanted to keep it timeless. We didn’t want to over-produce. I wanted to get away from what normal pop is. Then, Mark got involved, and then Brian Todd helped with the finishing touches because Stephan was so busy.
The team we created put the little sprinkles and magic fairy dust on it over time.
Mark: I remember when BC and I started collaborating, I heard this song played back in … 2012?
BC: I have been believing in this song for quite some time.
Mark: We met at a singer/songwriter night and started spending more time together, and hanging out. At the next singer/songwriter night BC asked me if I would play guitar for her, and percussion. She sent me a demo, a really rough version of “Roses & Violets,” and I remember hearing it and thinking, “Wow, that song, when it’s finished, will be spectacular.” It’s funny that, years later, when we created the duo project, we started writing together for fun. We said, “You know what? We should go home, light some candles, have a bottle of wine, and get the guitar out, with a notebook and a pencil, and let’s just write a song the way it used to be. No Pro Tools, no machine, no comping, no editing, no autotune.”
So we wrote a song called, “Head High.” When we finished with the rough recording, we realized there was something there. When we got heavy into our sessions, I said we should use “Roses & Violets” in our body of work. I went in and put all my guitars on it; BC’s vocal from the demo was immaculate so we didn’t touch it. We produced it with Brian and Stephan – no label, no help, no nuthin’. All organic instruments.
We’ve been locked (into recording) for the past month-and-a-half. We have seven new songs. We will slowly put it out there and let people find it, organically, and fall in love with the music first.
We just found out yesterday we went to No. 4 on the singer/songwriter chart, with no label, no publicity.
So how did “Roses & Violets” get to No. 4? The attention from “Duck Dynasty”?
BC: That definitely helped. We’re very grateful to them.
Mark: The family heard the song at their house. They loved it and Mary Kate (McEacharn) asked if I would like to play it at the wedding. We thought it was a perfect song, it would solidify their marriage. It’s so beautiful, it’s all about love, it’s so romantic. We played it, then they called and said it would be in the episode.
The song had been living on iTunes for about three weeks. We were wanting to give it a push around this time so the timing was great.
I sent the song to a former romantic interest who fell in love with it and wrote back that she cried as soon as she heard it. Have you had any similar feedback recently?
BC: We’ve been getting a lot of great responses. … Lots of people are writing; lots of emotion; lots of excitement. I’m just excited people love the song as much as we do.
Mark: The feedback is being generated just by the beauty of the song, and that’s what we wanted to do. We’ve been musicians our whole lives, we’ve been through the grind, and this feels like we’re being 100 percent honest. The rest of the material backs that up. You’re getting a true testament of who we are. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going.
Will you tell us when you’re releasing more music, or will it remain mysterious?
BC: I think it’s mysterious to us, as well. We’re letting it ride. It’s happening the way it was supposed to happen. Just keep creating and letting songs come out. New artwork; we’ll go from there.
Mark: We do have plans to have more content to come out. We’ll be playing more shows. Ideally we would like to be on the road, in the winter, playing our own shows or opening for someone. Just making connections and having people feel something. I hear music day-in, day-out and this song made me sit still and feel it. I think the rest of the music on this project will do the same thing.
Your manager, Tara Joseph, is based in the UK?
Mark: She is from the UK but she resides here in Los Angeles. She’s back and forth.
How did you start working with her?
Mark: I’m from Liverpool, originally. My dad is American; my mom’s from Liverpool. I went to Junior school, high school and college in England. We met many years ago working on a project and began talking. We became very close and friendly, and when it came to looking for new management, new representation for this, she came to mind. I’ve known her for six years. I trust her, she’s a hard worker and is also a believer.
How close are you to getting signed to an agency?
BC: We’re chatting with a few people. We’ll figure out where our home will be.
Mark: It’s still very early stages for that. Hopefully we’ll have an answer to that question in the next month or so. There’s some stuff going on and we don’t want to jinx ourselves. We’ve done a couple of warmup gigs outside of Los Angeles. Smaller crowds; we didn’t advertise. Even in those shows where we have played five or six songs, the room is silent. We’re looking forward to getting onstage and doing that in a lot of cities by the end of the year.
Thank you for your time. Anything else you’d like to add?
BC: I have a question for you! You mentioned you played this song for an ex-girlfriend or something? Is it possible this song could bring that romance back?
Mark: Keep us updated. We’ll sing the song for you.