Q&A With Toronto Rocker Allan Blitz
Allan Blitz is a musician and artist with a new single to talk about. The rising Toronto 2SLGBTQI+ rock singer's new song "Prove Me Wrong" features Toronto rapper Ellevan.
|Allan Blitz. Photo by Fabian Di Corcia
Allan Blitz is also Allan Cabral, by day a photographer and digital content creator for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. (If you look at their reviews and promo material, you should find his name credited.)
I asked him a few questions about his music and career.
How did you get your start in music - when did you know it was something you wanted to pursue?
As far back as I can remember, music has always been a part of my life. It started with my aunt taking me to church every Sunday, providing me with the opportunity to sing my heart out. I also fondly recall listening to my mom singing Brazilian folk songs and Beatles tunes around the house. I also spent countless hours in my sister's bedroom, just absorbing the sounds of Rock 'N' Roll. She would play The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and all kinds of good stuff.
When I turned thirteen, a friend from school came over and introduced me to heavy metal. I was instantly captivated by the music, especially the singing. That same year, I began studying music, focusing on piano and classical singing. I was so profoundly touched by those early musical experiences that I couldn't imagine myself doing anything other than performing and making an impact through music. That sentiment remains true to this day.
In my twenties, I attended school for Theatre Arts and completed two years of musical theatre in university. It was a lot of fun but emotionally demanding. Despite being a rock singer, I have a special appreciation for opera and musical theatre, which you can definitely hear when I sing.
|Allan Blitz performing live.
What are some of your musical influences - I hear a lot of different elements in the song?
I consider myself fortunate enough to have been exposed to many different styles of music in my life, which I believe have greatly enriched my perception in songwriting. It all started with Rock N' Roll, Gospel, and Classical at home—my parents and my sister had a big CD collection. In my teens, I began embracing and welcoming Pop into my musical universe, especially as artists like Lady Gaga started gaining mainstream popularity. Realistically, my musical influences span Rock, Metal, Pop, Classical, and Musical Theatre. In my latest single, while it is prominently a Rap-Rock song, you can actually hear elements from all those genres, including classical (I play the harp in 'Prove Me Wrong'—specifically, the Toronto Symphony's harp, which they kindly let me take care of during the pandemic).
|Behind-the-scenes production session of 'Prove Me Wrong'. Mr. Blitz with TSO harp in the background. Photo by Adrienne Elkerton
Regarding some of my biggest artistic influences, my universe includes Queen (a huge fan here!), Soundgarden, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Judas Priest, Linkin Park, Twenty One Pilots, Paramore, Lady Gaga, Michael Bolton, Céline Dion (oh, yes!), Sam Smith, and Sia—I could go on. Simultaneously, I don't deny my deep connection with the Classical world, which has been present the longest in my life, especially as I worked for the Edmonton Symphony and now Toronto Symphony. I have a particular appreciation for the works of Schubert, Beethoven, and Tchaikovsky. In the theatre world, Stephen Sondheim undeniably had an impact on me in terms of articulating words truthfully both as a performer and songwriter.
I know... I have a lot of references! However, it is only Rock music that provides me with more visceral experiences that I can feel in my bones.
Does being a musician also help when you photograph musicians at work? I've noticed that many of your photographs really capture the passion of performances.
Most definitely. When photographing the Toronto Symphony at Roy Thomson Hall, I aim to capture the truthfulness and honesty of each moment. While passion is undoubtedly an important element, I find that there is great power and responsibility when performers demonstrate vulnerability on stage. It's an invitation to the audience, not an imposition. I actively seek out these moments because I understand that, just like the pieces being performed on stage, images will tell a story later.
I had the incredible privilege of meeting Yo-Yo Ma at a community outreach event in 2022, and I'll never forget the lightness and serenity he exuded, not only during his performances but also in his personal interactions. For me, his vulnerability ranged from tenderness to courage, and that certainly showed in the pictures.
Tell me about your performance with Against the Grain Theatre. How did that come about?
That took place during their Pride Opera Pub Cabaret in 2022, marking my first performance to an audience post-pandemic and my first official performance in Toronto. Alongside nine other singers who are members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, we curated a concert where each of us had the chance to share songs that held personal significance. I chose to perform "The Show Must Go On" by Queen and briefly shared about Freddie Mercury's journey with that song and his impact on my life. This song became a source of solace for me during a time when I needed to process grief.
This event also held particular significance for me as a queer individual, especially as I explore the intricacies of queer life and finding one's voice through my own music.
The current single: what inspired it, and what does it mean to you?
"Prove Me Wrong" is a song about broken trust, originating from the complexities of navigating a toxic relationship I experienced years ago in the professional realm when I was still living in Alberta. The cycle was more or less like this: love-bombing at first until they earned my trust, and then, once established, little passive-aggressive comments were introduced in our interactions, leading to full-on gaslighting, which I noticed was very much targeted at me. Whether in the workplace, friendships, love, or family, toxic relationships are extremely puzzling to navigate, especially when you once trusted the individual. What's particularly interesting is that when I first presented the song to Ellevan, my collaborator, I mentioned what it was about but didn't go into too much detail. Later, he told me that the inspiration for his verse, for which he wrote the lyrics, was also professional. Although his experience was less about dealing with toxicity, we both come together on the topic of having our trust broken. Personally, creating this song was my release and a way to cleanse the emotions stored within me.
It's funny that songs like these typically originate from romantic relationships or something considered more on the "personal life" side. However, it makes sense when work usually occupies eight hours a day in Western society, which is at least 33% of every single weekday. That's a significant amount of time! Yes, we should be talking about it.
I hope that listeners who have had similar experiences dealing with broken trust find relief and strength when listening to "Prove Me Wrong."
|'Prove Me Wrong (feat. Ellevan)' cover art. Photo by Stelth Ng.