No, this isn't a beer with allan rayman.
If you read the remainder of this post, you’ll understand why.
And if you don’t know who Allan Rayman is, well, that's sort of the point.
Don’t type his name into Google. You won’t find a bio. Don’t go to the Spotify “About” section. Don’t try Wikipedia. His social media is equally as cryptic. His website—a nucleus for most artists—is sparse; a homepage with no menu bar.
It wasn’t until I listened to "Hotel Allan" on repeat and eventually saw him live at Metro in Chicago that I started to chip away at the enigma that is Allan. And just to be clear: I still haven't pinned him down. But that's sort of the point.
Here's what I do know: on his website, there's a circling pack of wolves juxtaposed with a beautifully provocative short film titled “The Cage,” which features his single “25.22”. If you watch the corresponding short film titled “The Bird,” you’ll see that the two narratives are co-dependent—you can’t fully experience one without the other. It’s unclear which is the prologue or the epilogue.
The short films, like his live performances, suggest an ongoing conversation (or an argument, whichever way you want to look at it) about love and fame. It doesn’t really matter which wins out in the end; They’re both simultaneously liberating and imprisoning.
This elusive quality of Allan Rayman's music is what makes it so magnetic. We can’t “consume” him in the way we have consumed so many other artists. (In “27,” for example, he sings, “This ain’t the shit that I live for/ Quick, can we get a picture, please/ I ain’t that dick with a booth and a bottle/ Blowing up your newsfeed.” Not surprisingly, he wasn't available for an interview.) We’ve not yet been given the right to bite into the heart of who Allan is. As listeners and as media, we need to be okay with artists not readily offering themselves up to us on a silver platter.
In this way, his unwillingness to hand himself over makes us into the girl he alludes to, quotes and engages with in his songs and on-stage. She is always on the outskirts—always second in line to the music itself. In “Song 512” Allan sings, “I find comfort in my own thought/ I ain’t the type to have a soft spot/ Oh, Lord knows I need it, though/ I found love with the studio.” (512 references his label/brand 512 Productions, which will release his next album in early 2017.)
In "Graceland," this girl directly responds to coming in second behind the studio when she says, “Your lack of compassion feeds my obsession/ I am your wolf and you are the flavor that I will forever chase to taste again.” There's definitely some truth to that. Why is it that mystery always feed our desire to dig deeper?
If you’re interested in “digging deeper” with Allan Rayman—if you’re obsessed with deciphering his one-line captions, black and white profiles or red-lit silhouettes on Instagram—here’s a recommendation: Go listen to his music instead. Not passively. Really listen (Not on shuffle). Buy tickets to a show. Actually watch.
The stage will probably be dimly lit. He’ll have a drink while he performs; he’ll converse with that girl and, consequently, himself. But he won’t speak directly to you. He won’t indulge you with that on-stage banter you see in so many other artist's performances. He’ll let his music do most of the talking. And maybe you'll leave the gig with more questions than answers, but isn't that the point of good art after all?