Mark performed his first single, "Get My Name," on the finale, and devoted fans have probably also seen the song's video, which is a funky, dance-filled extravaganza directed by Derek Hough and featuring fellow DWTS pro Witney Carson.
Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with Mark to learn more about "Get My Name," where his music career is going next, and if we can expect to see him on DWTS Season 19 when he has so much else going on.
Wetpaint Entertainment: We loved "Get My Name." What made you pick it to be your debut single?
Mark Ballas: We kind of went back and forth. We had a few songs we wanted to lead with, but ultimately that one felt like a true representation because of the way it makes you feel. It has a very fun groove to it, it's lighthearted in its subject, it's catchy, it's easy to sing along to; it's kind of one of those records you can't help but move to.
I think what ultimately made us pick it was the feeling. It just feels really, really good when you listen to it. The other songs were good, too, but this one felt like — if we had to lead off this EP or this record, or whatever we're going to end up putting out, I felt like this was the perfect representation of what we're all about.
It has a very classic, throwback feel. What are your musical inspirations?
I grew up in a very musical family. My dad was a great guitar player as well. As a kid that was father-son time. He was a great flamenco guitar player, so that's kind of where I started. We would listen to Paco de Lucía and the Gypsy Kings — that's how my road as a musician started. Also in the house he was really big into Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, and Prince. These are the kinds of records I grew up listening to.
I have a very extensive record collection. I love rock music as well, and funk, and all that kind of stuff. I wanted to do a record that feels like today, but still feels classic, a timeless kind of feeling, and I feel like we were able to capture that with the records on this EP. It feels good, it definitely feels like today but, like you said, it has elements of throwback. We use a lot of live instruments. I just love live instrumentation. In my opinion you can't beat it, it's one of those things, that no matter how advanced we get with computers, that's one thing you're never going to be able to beat, the sound of live musicians. We definitely want to incorporate that element.
Tell us about your approach to the video for "Get My Name."
I wanted to create somewhat of a small, miniature musical movie. No one's doing them like that anymore. There are a few, but I really wanted to capture something that had a storyline, that had a truly cool kind of dance feel to it, make it classic but still modern. I wrote the treatment for it, and we just were looking for a good production company. We finally ended up getting together with Riveting Entertainment and Andrew Listermann. We took some meetings, they really liked the idea.
For choreography, I wanted to use Misha Gabriel, a good friend of mine. He's just a genius when it comes to choreography. He did all the hip-hop and funk stuff, I did all the partner work. Together we worked really, really well. Then when it came to getting direction, I wanted someone I could trust, someone who had a good eye, and someone who also there would be no awkward moments where if I didn't like the way something was going, or the director didn't like the way something was going, there was no problems. So we ended up using [Dancing With the Stars pro] Derek [Hough], who I grew up with and have a great relationship with.
It was just seemless. We knocked the whole thing out in one day, a 12-hour shoot. We rehearsed for a week before — the dancing,pre-production, and all that stuff. We had a big audition for the dancers. The auditions for the dancers were just insane. So many people showed up. We just released a behind-the-scenes little video where you can see how many people showed it. It was pretty wild.
I wanted to showcase that I'm not just a one trick poney. Yeah, I dance, and that's how I make my living. Everyone's gotta make their living, everyone has a job, and being a dancer happens to be mine. For me, I kind of want to be the artist right now who can really dance, but who has also mastered their instrument. I've been playing guitar for a long time, I went to music school. I feel like there's a hole in the pop market for that right now, and that's the area I'm aiming for.
So, what's next for your music career? Will you release more music soon?
The song just came out, so we're obviously going to keep pushing it for a little bit. We're going to be playing some gigs over the summer. We'd love to some point jump out on a tour. We're going to come out and play some shows. We're ultimately, I think, by the middle of the summer, or end of the summer, going to putting out another single, and then follow that one up, and then possibly put out an EP. I'm not sure how many songs we're going to put on there yet, but an EP is in the works. If I had to put one out tomorrow I'd feel really comfortable in having five, six, seven songs that I could put out right now that I think people would really enjoy.
The live show is better than ever. You got to hear the band that I play with on the Dancing With the Stars [Season 18] performance. They're just first class, incredible, incredible musicians. And when we do our shows they're just fun and entertaining. We have the dance element, we have the live music element. You really get to see me play guitar, and play to my full potential, as well, which you don't always do on the records. You do want to keep it simple, somewhat, on the record, so there aren't all these crazy guitar parts all over. But in the live show you can let it rip a little bit more.
But yeah, we're going to finish promoting "Get My Name," put out the next one, maybe put out another one, and then the EP will be out, hopefully soon.
Are you likely to be back for Dancing With the Stars Season 19?
I don't know yet. Obviously they haven't even began to cast it yet, so they probably won't know for a while which pros are going to be part of it because of height and all that good stuff. This last season was definitely a tough one for me physically, so I'm not sure yet. We'll wait to see if they want to use me. I assume they will if they have someone that's my height, but I don't know yet, at the moment.
And do you still keep in contact with Season 18 partner Candace Cameron Bure?
Oh yeah! We were texting each other yesterday!
What do you think of Mark's music? Let us know in the comments below!