Arista Records, Billboard can exclusively announce, has signed 21-year-old synth-pop artist Julian Lamadrid. The label’s president/CEO, David Massey, first heard about Lamadrid on his way back from this year’s Grammys after a colleague sent him music. He was blown away, and by the end of the month, Massey had called the Brooklyn-based artist in for a meeting at Arista’s New York office, officially entering an industry race to sign him (though Massey insists that there wasn’t a bidding war).
"To go from sitting alone in my bedroom writing these songs to all of a sudden getting attention from labels was somewhat ridiculous," says Lamadrid. "In the course of only two weeks, I met with various industry executives and was flown out to L.A. for the first time in my life. I couldn't believe it."
A Wednesday meeting turned into a Friday signing for Lamadrid, who knew within a few minutes of sitting down for lunch with Massey that Arista was a perfect fit. The feeling was mutual. Lamadrid, says Massey, has a “crystal clear vision of who he is as an artist. He knows his aspirations and desires greatness. His songs are really modern, but also have an alternative and pop component to them.” Born and raised in Dubai, the son of Mexican expats grew up listening to Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Joy Division, and came to New York not for music but to study at New York University’s film school. Now, after graduating in just three years, he’s fusing both interests. He self-directed the music video for his debut track with Arista, “Mess,” both of which are out June 14; his first full-length, Mala Noche (Bad Night), will drop this fall.
"Being part of Arista means that I am only one of 14 other artists, which is a great advantage. But ultimately, it was David and the Arista team's belief in me and my music that solidified my decision. Moments after signing, David looked over at me and said, 'You know what I love about this? It's not about numbers or data or streaming or social media, it's about you and your record.' That was special." Says Massey: “He has the potential to have worldwide success. He’s a complete artist.”
A version of this article originally appeared in the May 25 issue of Billboard.