There is a method to Allan Rayman's musicological design — but he's keeping the blueprints to himself, at least for now. An internet search pulls up precious few hits, and until just recently, he's shut down any and all offers for press interviews, maintained a minimalist approach to social media, and sequestered himself to the outer fringes of the industry.
But with new album Roadhouse 01, he's pulling back the curtain just a bit. And if there are parallels to Allan Rayman's past life as a construction worker, it's that he's crafted a facade based on hard work, mental, emotional and physical exertion, and by sticking to a plan.
The 26-year-old has spent the last few years writing, recording and honing a post-modernist sound that's absorbed the essential elements of rock, hip-hop, soul and blues. He defines his musical approach as "curating experiences" — his million-plus Spotify streaming numbers are testament to such — and portrays signing to Mumford & Sons' Ben Lovett's indie label Communion as a mutually beneficial one. "I didn't compromise anything for it," he says. "There's a lot of creative freedom. I wouldn't have gotten into any situation where that wasn't the case."
Of his laissez-faire approach to self-promotion, he offers: "We just want it to feel mysterious and enigmatic — that's a huge thing. I just want it to be organic. If you're someone that likes the music and listens to it, that's great…but it was never ever for anyone but myself."
He describes himself as a "shy kid" growing up in Toronto, who was not of any particular music scene. "I feel like a complete outsider. I don't feel like I belong anywhere," he says. It was his father who introduced him to music, and Rayman grew up messing around on drums and guitar. But it was the expressionist themes behind the music that always intrigued.
"I was raised on classic rock and stuff. Pink Floyd's The Wall — such an incredibly conceptualized album — that always fascinated me, as did the swagger of Jim Morrison on stage, and the raspy, nasal singing of Amy Winehouse," he says. "My friends always listened to a lot of hip-hop and R&B stuff and naturally, hanging out with them, I hear a lot of that stuff."
Rayman's self-actualization is key to his musical integrity — Roadhouse 01 is equal parts aural and visual aesthetics, a filmic doctrine of desaturated colour that warns of a Faustian bargain between art and emotion over his soul.
"I wear my heart on my sleeve," he admits. "But music is also the death of my love, because I can't find the balance between the two. I have to focus on one thing. Right now, that's music. What's dangerous is that, if a woman comes along and sweeps me off my feet, then music's fucked. Because I'd move to Alaska and become a fisherman for her if that's what she wanted."
It's premature to place a definition on success, he notes, countering that "satisfaction is the death of desire." In between creating music, touring and performing, he notes that "music is like therapy in a way" to be unsettled about anything else.
"I didn't set out to become rich and famous. My goal was to do music alongside my construction and live a simple life," he says. "It's the complete opposite of that now."
Pick up Roadhouse 01 on red vinyl here.