Darrelle London, who plays the Horseshoe on Wednesday, is getting a bit of attention is via Perez Hilton, who has signed her to his record label.
She’s getting the Perez push.
Before she became involved with gossip blogger Mario Lavandeira, a.k.a. Perez Hilton, a.k.a. the self-described Queen Of All Media, Toronto singer and songwriter Darrelle London was an artist struggling to get her music heard by the masses.
There was some consistent CBC radio support, but generally London and her piano-driven first album Edible Word Parade — which she’ll showcase at the Horseshoe on Wednesday — received most of her interest through word of mouth and a couple of small-venue tours of Eastern Canada.
Through her Hilton association, however, London has enjoyed something of a breakthrough: her lighthearted ditty “Understand” was featured on a May 4 episode of 90210 (and the series soundtrack) about the same time Hilton had announced her as the first Canadian signing to his Perezcious Music record label. Hilton also secured her a high-profile opening spot for V.V. Brown at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, placing her on the radar of record company executive hoi polloi.
She’ll turn around next month and crack New York for the first time at Arlene’s Grocery, but not before showcasing her craft at Hilton’s post-MuchMusic Video Awards bash June 20 at a location to be determined.
Clearly, London, 24, is enjoying the benefits of a man whose perezhilton.com blog claims 13.5 million unique visitors per month.
“That’s one of the reasons I signed with him,” says the doe-eyed London, relaxing in a back-corner booth at the Green Room the Saturday afternoon prior to her L.A. trip.
“His website is obviously a huge platform. He has millions of readers. But the other thing is basically his enthusiasm for music — he’s really passionate about it. He finds it important to give a stage to artists who wouldn’t really have one. So that combination made him someone that I wanted to be on my team.”
It was London, born in Toronto but raised on a farm in Acton, Ont., who first reached out to Hilton.
“I’m big on sending out my music to anyone who would possibly listen, even when it’s like a really, really slim shot,” London explains. “So I just emailed some of my music to him through his website.
“He got back to me right away and really responded to my music, said he loved it and wanted to hear more. I didn’t know about his label at that time.”
London, whose lighthearted, quirky pop reminds one of Kate Nash channelling Jill Sobule with a dash of Ben Folds, is used to the cold call approach: it’s how she snagged Brian Allen, the former Toronto guitarist and co-writer of the 1985 Heart smash “What About Love” as album co-producer (with Marc Koecher) back in 2008.
“She found my website and reached me by email — which surprised me, because I had nothing like her musically on my website,” Allen recalls.
“But I like her because she is playful in her approach to melodies and lyrics, and has a little bit of a nudge-nudge-wink sense of humour that I find refreshing.”
Perez Hilton was similarly seduced, and says that although he’s pushing London independently (Hilton’s label has an assortment of deals with major labels and prominent indies), he’s in it for the long haul.
Right now, London’s Edible Word Parade has been withdrawn from the market and her music will be limited to a digital single release for the time being.
“The goal really is to win over a few fans at a time and just have her grow organically,” says Hilton, who recently released “Understand” to iTunes.
“The great thing about what we’re doing is that there are no rules, and I don’t think like a traditional record company. What’s important to me is that I love music and I love Darrelle’s songs.”
She seems content to follow Hilton’s game plan.
“As an artist, I just want to gain fans that will allow me to keep making music,” she admits. “Working with Perez seemed a great way to reach a whole bunch of people.”