When he moved to the United States, Jon Alkalay had dreams of a music career but life got in the way. Ten years later, the Brazilian-born, Austin-based musician has resurrected his dreams with the release of his self-titled debut album earlier this year.
It started as a dream. Austin’s latest up and coming music artist is spinning an eclectic mix of dance-pop that’s destined for playlists and dancefloors around the country. After hitting YouTube in early November 2013, Jon Alkalay’s debut single, “Putting Myself First” started racking up thousands of views from dance and electronica fans from around the globe. His self-titled debut full-length album, released in January 2104, reached Top 10 in Dance and Pop Charts on Amazon MP3.
Born in Brazil and transplanted to the Live Music Capital of The World in Austin, Texas, Alkalay brought his life-long love of music and international influences to America in hopes of carving out his own niche in the music business. “There was always music at home and my parents were definitely my major inspiration,” Alkalay explains. “My father was a baritone who sang in his youth at the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra choir, as well as a classical piano player. My mother is from Portugal and has loved singing fados her whole life.”
“Since I was 3 years old, I never cared for toys but only records,” Alkalay explains. “My parents always joked that maybe I would be able to survive a few days without food but not without my records. And that is still true up to this day.” Growing up with pop artists from the 80’s and 90’s, including the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elton John, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Donna Summer, and the Pet Shop Boys, their influence are clear when you hear his music.
Alkalay relocated from Brazil to the United States with his partner with dreams of launching his music career but the changing landscape in the music industry put those dreams on hold. “I moved to the US to be with my partner who had gotten a job in US. It was back in 2000, in the midst of the music industry collapsing due to all piracy and internet, which ended up forcing me to take a new direction in life. I ended up in the insurance industry and was a very successful executive from an important insurance company over the past ten years, but the music has been always there; suffocated…. thus, I decided it was time to let it come out again and live my real and only dream, to be an artist.”
“Putting Myself First”, from his debut album is about pursuing his original dream and taking the path unchosen. “It is the song which says it all. Everything that I was feeling and how important was for me to break free from my “previous life” and embrace music which was everything I’ve ever wanted to do. I think this is the song that has the strongest message of all.”
Starting a new chapter in his life hasn’t been easy and Alkalay admits that it has been a struggle trying to breakout as an indie musician. “There’s a lot of noise on the Internet today and a lot of people desperate to reach stardom and become celebrities. In order to stand out from the crowd, making good music alone is not enough. The artist has to build a social media presence, put out an interesting video, among so many other factors. It is extremely hard to accomplish everything when trying to do all by yourself and not knowing people in the industry. Creating, promoting, performing, contacting people and still trying to make a living. It is so much easier to reach people today but at the same time usually you end up being just another one in the crowd if you are not establishing a presence online or is lucky enough to get your music heard by a significant opinion former, your e-mail ends up in the middle of another million which are never read.”
Even with his struggles, his family and friends have been his biggest supporters along the way. “My family and friends, after all everybody knows how much music matters to me since I was a kid. And they are all rooting for me, expecting that one day I will be able to live off my music.”
When asked what he’s got on the horizon, Alkalay says he’s taking music production classes, working as a linguist and promoting his album when he can find the time. As far as his next album, “I already have enough lyrics and ideas for a second LP. I just need to find the time do start, after all it is a very consuming process when doing all by yourself and I am still recovering from the first album which was recorded through most part of last year.”
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