I have been a big fan of Colton Ford for several years now. His chiseled and gorgeous looks, smooth vocals, and overall fantastic persona have made him a huge force to be reckoned with in the music industry. I was lucky enough to sit down with Colton three years ago, right when Manhattan Digest was starting, about his budding music career and life in New York City. Since that interview, there have been a lot of changes, all for the better.
He now resides in Los Angeles, where he is hard at work in the entertainment industry, most recently releasing an amazing new record called “Glenn Soukesian”, which features several brand new songs written by Colton that showcase what a talent he is vocally and so much more. I caught up with him over the weekend to discuss the new record, updates in his life, how he’s adjusting to Los Angeles, and thoughts on a hopeful future.
When we did the last interview you were living in New York, so what prompted the move to Los Angeles?
Well, I’m originally from California. All of my family is there. My mom was not doing well at the time, so my last year in NYC (2 years ago) I was flying back and forth to California, staying with her and helping her out for weeks at a time and then flying back to New York for a couple of weeks in between those periods. The intention was to eventually move back to California, primarily because I had been in New York for seven years and I had gotten everything I wanted to get out of being there. I didn’t have to be there anymore to do what I do, so figured it was just time. The city just continues to get more and more expensive, so unless you have to be there in order to do what it is that you do, it’s a lot more cost effective to live somewhere else.
I love New York City, but as a resident it can become a love/hate thing after a while, and certainly what was really interesting about the city has been pushed out. It has really been gentrified, and that edge and artistic, creative energy that was so prevalent back in the day, doesn’t resonate as much now. I call it the “Disneyfication” of New York City. It is not the city that it used to be. When you know that the day-to-day experience doesn’t have to be as much work as it is in New York City, and especially when you get to the middle of your life, you’re more likely to choose to simplify things as opposed to stay in the chaos.
Since you moved back to LA, what has been some of your biggest accomplishments on the music side?
I’ve continued to do the creative thing, which is what I have done all of my life. One of the things that happened after my landing here was that I left the management company that I had been working with since 2007. It was liberating, and this record reflects that. It’s more personal, more organic and authentic. My collaborators on this project get me, and when working together they just let me do my thing; there were no negotiations or considerations really. I wouldn’t necessarily attach that to my move back to LA, but it is a definite reflection of where I am in my life. I’ve been in the entertainment industry and music business for thirty-three years, with many different chapters and experiences. When you are dealing with major labels you have to compromise and negotiate. When you are dealing with collaborators that are high up the food chain, there are negotiations and sometimes compromises that are part of the process. I am just at a stage in my life where I don’t want to have to compromise or negotiate my vision in order for it to be realized. You either get me or you don’t. I want collaborators who come from a truly collaborative place, where it’s everyone’s unified effort. This record is just that, and I sincerely thank my collaborators for their time, contributions and amazing talent. I think you have to realize as an artist, especially when you’ve been in it for a long time, that the outcome of your releases and work is out of your control in many respects. In certain ways, it’s up to the universe, god, spirit, whatever you want to call it. At the end of the day, you just need to do the work that you want to do and feel good about. And finding the satisfaction of knowing that you did you to the best of your abilities!
Certainly, there are very few people that are really making a decent living off of putting music out there, and the machine is still in full effect even though the major labels don’t have a dictatorship over who gets their music out there and who doesn’t. The artists that have the machine and money behind them are the ones who get the attention and airplay. You get to a place in your career where you have done enough to know what the deal is, and you remind yourself of why you started creating and entertaining in the first place. For the love of it!! My roots are in R&B and soul, and that’s what you’re getting on this record. In that sense, the making of this record was a really wonderful and liberating experience that represents my evolution as an artist and as a person.
You are of course known for your original music, but you have also had success with doing great covers of hit songs. What made you stop doing the covers and just focus on new material?
Well, it’s not necessarily that I am opposed to doing covers, I’ve just done a lot of them over the years. I did a whole album of covers (2009, “Under The Covers”), and my last release which was an EP (2014, “Next Chapter”), I did another (Level 42’s, “Something About You”), so right now I’m focused on my original material, you know? Not to say that I wouldn’t do another cover, but again my focus is the new record and material, more organic Adult Contemporary soul, which is where I want to be.
I listened to some of your new music, it is fantastic. My two favorites from it are “True Love” and “Never Walk Away”. What drove you to do this particular type of project?
Thank you! Again, to what I was saying earlier, I wanted to do something that was more reflective of my roots. I love dance music, but my roots are in soul and R&B. Back in the 90’s I had two major label deals, the first of which had me paired up with the Godfather of House music, Frankie Knuckles, and my second deal (with the same label) had me doing straight R&B. This album is more personal, with songs about my experiences and observations. For me, it was just about being more organic and focusing on the music and the vocal and less about big production. I think we accomplished that.
Do you have a particular favorite track off of it?
Every track is special to me, and has a specific meaning. I truly love the whole album, GLENN SOUKESIAN (my real name in case you didn’t know)! “Free Yourself” is a happy, positive song, and sends the message to really be true to yourself. It feels good. “Love’s Around,” is a beautiful ballad. A song of love really. An “I will be there/you’re not alone” kind of love .
A lot of people who used to be in the adult industry have a hard time transitioning out and becoming successful in another facet, yet you have done that ten fold. What do you attribute your success in the music business too?
I have been creating music, acting and performing all of my life, so I just continue to do what I’ve always done. My brief 10-month foray into the adult industry was more of a sidebar, but one that allowed me to create this thing, Colton Ford, that I have used to draw attention to the other things that I do. My music and acting since my adult experience was not an afterthought of that experience. I believe that my success has been due to the fact that I’ve persevered and stayed with my artistic endeavors, and that the art that I’ve put out there stands on it’s own.
What are you hopeful for in the future?
I just want to continue to do what I love to do. I’ve been acting more, which is something that I also really enjoy, and have a couple of projects in the works in that arena that I’m really excited about. I’ve been getting into voice over work, which has been so much fun, as well as writing music for other artists. Just going to keep doing me!!