In the autumn 2017 edition of Music Industry Quarterly, we had the pleasure of chopping it up with one Alvester Martin, a multi-talented artist gearing up for the December release of his debut project titled, Love Me or Leave Me (SkyLimitGroup). Prior to dropping his album, Alvester was building a devout fan base through a variety of platforms. As a dancer, he’s toured with some of the most famous artists on the planet, superstars like Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, and Beyoncé; while last year he wowed viewers with his bad boy image on the Lifetime reality show, Vivica’s Black Magic.
Those of us at M.I.Q first met Alvester up close last spring when he hosted a “Music Exhibit” at our Business of Music Conference to premier songs from Love Me or Leave Me. He, his DJ and squad of dancers delivered an entire set of songs surrounded by white drapery while champagne-sipping audience members looked down from the club’s loft. It was a provocative display of chic, originality, and one of the highlights of the music conference.
For our Winter Edition of M.I.Q., we once again met up with the singer-songwriter, model, actor and dancer; this time to discuss his progress as both an indie artist, and entrepreneur.
Since the album release, what’s the response been for Love Me or Leave Me?
We’ve gotten a really positive reaction, and a lot of great feedback. I didn’t even intend for the album to be sold. I wanted to take away all of the pomp and circumstance that typically comes with an album release because at the end of the day I’m a new artist, and an independent artist. I called it an album/mixtape in the beginning out of fear that if it failed, I could fall back and scapegoat it as a mixtape. That was my own insecurity at play. This is MY debut album, and it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do. I listen to it now and it still inspires me. Upon its initial release it debuted at No. 1 on the R&B Charts, and No. 4 on the Pop Charts in Hungary. Out of everywhere I’ve travelled, I’ve never been to Hungary. That was just a sign from God.
Which songs or single(s) are you promoting?
The dopest thing about streaming is that we get to monitor the activity of each song daily. We’ve been really paying attention to Apple, Spotify and Tidal. The same five songs are really what people are gravitating towards. I’ve performed “Love Me or Leave Me” a lot because that is the title track, and it was also the first song I actually wrote for the project; so I’ve lived with it a while. But there are literally five songs that are streaming the most: “I’m On,” “Can’t Help It,” “Love Me or Leave Me,” “Hot,” and “Ain’t Going to Wait.” I really want to be in touch with my fans and give them at least 3-4 visuals for the songs. I’m a new artist so that depends on the budget [laughs].
My fans from my dancing days have been really supportive, so I want to give them what they wanna hear, see and experience. I had this thing about dancing too much in the beginning, while I was making this transition. I had to learn that you can’t run away from who you are and what got you here. I’m now excited to dance again. And now that this is MY music, I’m ready to get out there and start moving.
Have you been doing many performances?
I’ve been doing a lot of promo performances. But I’m ready to go tour; touring is where I feel most at home. I’m ready to get out there and touch the people. I feel more comfortable on stage than I do in social settings. I’m a bit more of an introvert, and have some social anxieties. But stage is a different world. I did a performance for KTLA-TV (Los Angeles). I had one day to pull together an entire production. I’ve done a radio performance in New York for 103.9 (WNBM). The day the album dropped, I did an acoustic set at PIPs on LaBrea here in L.A. And I did a performance at the wedding of Siggy Jackson (son of Jackie Jackson) at the Jackson family estate. All in all, I’m ready to get with my own band, singers, dancers, because that’s where my heart and soul is; performing in front of the people.
Are you recording more music in between? Are you a studio rat?
I’m definitely working on more music. I stay in constant contact on Facetime with Phillip “Phoe Notes” Randolph, one of the main producers from my album, who continually sends me tracks. I’m always going back and forth with one of the writers from my album, Deontrez McClusky. My creative team, which consists of Carrington Bester, is always telling me stuff. I already have the title for the next album. It’s being written through life experiences. I’m learning so much now. It’s really weird. Love Me or Leave Me was the story of my life four to five years prior to its release. Now, there is another transition occurring in my life.
You’re quite active on Instagram and Facebook Live. What are your thoughts on social media?
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It’s like a job for me at times. I’m not always in the mood to display my life every few seconds. Not that there is anything wrong, life is great. But putting up a picture every day, or stop and take this picture – that’s why I like Instagram Story the most. You can catch stuff in the moment, and have it live there for a minute. I do have my silly side. For people that know me and are around me. If I walk into a room, I’m not the loudest person coming in. I’m funny and I have my quirky side. I like to joke around and laugh. I have my vulgar jokes going, too. Social media is great, especially for a new artist, but sometimes you wanna leave something for yourself.
Do you ever worry about comparisons; people saying that you may be the next Tank or the next Ginuwine?
I haven’t heard any comparisons recently. Had you caught me two or three years ago, I probably would’ve said yes. Now, I know that in recording the album, I consciously did not listen to anybody’s music. I did not want to follow any trends. I wanted to let whatever God put in me creatively to come out naturally. As an artist and as a person, you’re always going to get some comparisons. I’m 6’1, I’m a black man, who dances and sings. We all have influences, and I’m definitely defining my own lane.
Well since the release of the album, are you listening to other artists?
I bump the H.E.R. album all of time. I need to catch her show. I’ve been listening to Sabrina Claudio. I’ve been listening to Xavier Omar and Daniel Caesar. I’ve been listening to a lot of new stuff; if not new stuff then its ‘90s R&B such as Usher, Dru Hill, or 112.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
I would love to work with Jazmine Sullivan, or any of the artists that I just mentioned.
With that said, what ultimately is your vision? I see myself as an arena type of artist. I’ve performed in many of them while backing up other artists. Now, I want this for myself. I love production, creativity, and spirituality. I want to showcase life through art, and on the grandest scale possible.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned since embarking on this entrepreneurial/ indie artist endeavor?
I love doing what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’ve gone broke three times for it. I’ve been homeless for it. Since this album has come out I feel like I’ve gotten 10 times closer to God, but in a way to help me understand who I am as an artist and what my purpose is beyond just fulfilling my own personal dreams. I understand that there is a message that I’m supposed to give to people through my art.
I’m also learning how to blend art and commerce. It’s important to not just be an artist but a brand and a businessman. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is I’ve had to lose my heart but keep my spirit. It’s been a huge adjustment for me to learn that I can’t always coddle people’s feelings, I have to stay the course and do what I’m here to do. You can’t always appease people, you can’t always appease yourself.
INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY DAVID A. MITCHELL