Al Walser: Our Interview With a Beguiling Grammy Nominee
See also: Jason Bentley: Al Walser's "Embarrassing" Grammy Nomination the Result of Manipulating the System
The DJs also nominated in his category -- Avicii, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia and Skrillex -- are quite famous, but the 33-year-old Walser, who is from Lichtenstein and now lives in Hollywood, is not. Or wasn't until yesterday, when he was tagged the next Rebecca Black due to the dubious melodicness of his nominated track "I Can't Live Without You," and the fact that the production qualities of its video (below) are comparable to The Room.
The folks at the Grammys haven't returned our calls, but Walser is apparently a member of the voting committee himself, so we caught up with him last night to see if the fix was in.
Were you surprised to get the nomination?
I was absolutely surprised. I am humbled by my nomination and couldn't be more thankful.
How do you think this happened?
I have always made commercial music. The people who vote for the Grammy nominees are mostly in their 40s and have other jobs or are musicians themselves. They like music that they can relate to -- they like commercial music.
I have worked hard to nourish my relationships with everyone I have come into contact with. There are a lot of events that are held, and I have met a lot a lot of voting members that way. I talk to them about what I am doing musically, and get their input -- that's all you can do. I always made an active effort to maintain my relationships. I worked hard to be someone that was real -- like, someone they could actually touch -- instead of ignoring them and spending all my time trying to make money, like others do. I knew that I connected with a lot of people who voted, but I did not think that it was going to get me nominated.
People have been comparing you to Rebecca Black. Do you think that's fair?
The only thing I know about Rebecca Black is that she became famous from a video that went viral. I could care less what people have to say about that. If you become a viral star, that is terrific! People like Rebecca Black are doing the best they can, and to hate on someone because they have become viral sensations is not right. There is nothing wrong with that. I root for them! What, is making a sex tape better? People can say what they want.
For how long have you been a Grammy voter?
Since 2007 or 2006. I am one of 18,000 members and 15,000 voters. It is really a great community thing and a great way to get involved.
Do you think being a voter helped you get nominated?
Being a Grammy voter was only helpful to the extent that I had access to the other voters, and they could see what I was doing on a regular basis -- so, in that way, yes. But at the same time you need to have music that connects with them, or they won't be interested. You can't just put a gun to someone's head and tell them to vote -- it doesn't work that way. [Laughs.]
Did you vote for yourself?
I don't want to get into that. Everyone who votes, votes for people who are worthy of winning and being nominated.
What do you say to those who speculate fraud?
if anyone ever owns up to or accuses me of these false claims, we will absolutely sue them. Are you kidding me? I didn't use the big corporate machine as a means of promoting; I used it on an emotional basis. Nor did I do anything aside from work hard to get where I am. Also, you don't need that many votes in the "Dance" category as you would in the "New Artist" category because it is not a main category. It's not even considered to be even one of the top five and It's not a category that is that crowded!