"'Tokyo' is a placeholder for this feeling or memory, and can be replaced with any place, or any time."
Having started his career at only nine years-old with a role in the U.K. tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Houssein is now a full-fledged musician. He garnered more than 250 million views on Vine followed by 100 million interactions on Music.ly, and gained a huge online following thanks to both. Now, as the U.K. No. 1 solo male artist, he is preparing to perform at Slimefest and release more music in the near future. We dig his electro-pop sound and asked him all about it and more.
Read the complete interview below.
How did you become interested in music?
I initially sung in my school choir from the age of 6, and took part in all of my school shows - and around the same time, my parents bought me a drum kit that developed my love for playing instruments. I then went on to be in some West End Musical Theatre Tours which solidified the idea of me wanting to do music.
You are originally from the U.K. How did the music scene there inspire you?
Growing up, I was mostly exposed to the Pop charts or whatever old CDs we had. So I always heard like Mr Brightside and Year 3000 on the radio, and then Queen, Elvis or David Bowie on old CDs from my mum. I think that this gave me my initial interest in Pop music, as I spent every car journey listening to Capital FM and Radio 1.
Much of your success started with the app Vine. What are your feeling toward social media in the music industry today?
Social Media and music go hand in hand, and it means that the artistry doesn't have to end at the end of an album or song. Artists can continue to express themselves, or promote themselves through various social media platforms - and there is no limit to what they can do creatively. It also gives new artists an opportunity to get their music heard.
Tell us a little bit about your latest music video, "Tokyo". What do you love about the video?
I love the VHS aspects of the video and the bad green screen vibes that remind me of old school MTV, and music videos from the 80s - and I like the petals that fall towards the end of the video as they are ascetically pleasing, but also throws in a bit of Tokyo, which is famous for the cherry blossom petals.
I read that the song was difficult and emotional for you to write, and that the title is not really a reference to the city itself. Can you talk about this?
The song is about looking back on a moment in time that was perfect, a truly euphoric moment. 'Tokyo' is a placeholder for this feeling or memory, and can be replaced with any place, or any time - but it's not really important. What's important is the relatable feeling, that a lot of people experience, of wanting to go back and re-live a great memory, but knowing that it will never happen.
You will soon be performing at Nickelodeon's Slimefest. What are you looking forward to with this event?
I am excited to perform at Slimefest, as I'll be performing a new song that I have not yet released - and the event is being held in an arena, which provides a great opportunity for me to reach more people with my music.
What is coming up next for you?
A lot more music, more live shows, some more television appearances and more online content - such as music videos, behind the scenes, travel diaries etc…
Rachel A.G. Gilman is a writer, a former radio producer, and probably the girl wearing the Kinks shirt. She is the creator of The Rational Creature and suggests you check it out. Also visit her website for more.