Colton Ford uncovers his softer side

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imageProfessional fraternity man by day and roving entertainment reporter by night, Buck Cooke moved to Atlanta in 2000. Armed with a passion for pop culture and rabid appetite for music, Buck scours the entertainment landscape for treasures in music, TV and cinema.

With a new album on the way, a new TV season, and a new beau, Colton Ford bares all. But not in the way you might think.

It turns out Ford has a softer side. Yes, he’s a former gay porn star, but he’s also turning into quite the singer. His sophomore album, “Under the Covers,” scheduled for release this fall and Ford had a great time covering some of his favorite songs as well as some material that was new to him. During our interview, we covered the album, the upcoming season of “The Lair,” life in New York City and romance.

What made you want to do a cover album?
It was the brainchild of my manager, Bill [Coleman]. The mindset was that it would be nice to put an album out of songs that were already familiar to the listener that I could reinterpret and show different sides of my vocal ability and how I interpret other people’s songs.

The selection of the songs on the album cover a wide range, musically. I think it enabled me to show people something a little different they haven’t heard or seen from me before.

Of course, I did “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” with Pepper [MaShay, back in 2004], but doing a whole album of covers enables me to go in there, dig in, and check out songs that moved me in the past and songs that I think are still really relevant today. It’s a combination of all of those things.

I definitely see an added value in covering songs that people already have connected to. My intention was to try and maintain the integrity of the original but bring something new to it to make it fresh. It was a lot of fun to do.

imageWhat are your favorite songs on the album? What about them speaks to you?
There’s something special for me in each song, but I really am a fan of the producers who worked on this record. I love all of the production on the album. I really dig “Losing My Religion,” which is the first single. I also really dig “By My Side.” I love the mix on that and the new interpretation of a really wonderful, great song. I love “Every Heartbeat,” I love “Lithium.”

There’s something really special for me for each one of these tracks on the record. I’m a huge Babyface fan and loved “It’s No Crime” when it came out and loved being able to re-do it and put it out there.

It’s really hard to pinpoint one song. I really dig all of the tracks. I love “Follow Me.” It’s a such a relevant song today just as it was when it came out. It’s a really great song to sing. There’s something there for me for each one of the songs.

Hopefully, as an artist, each time you put out an album, each song is special and unique and speaks to you. I think that’s one of the plusses of the whole internet delivery dynamic. Artists can’t get away with having 18 songs on an album and have four of them being hot and the rest be just passable.

For me, each one of the songs I’ve done on this record really was a unique little gift that I enjoyed listening to and certainly enjoyed recording it and hopefully people will feel the same way.

How did you pick the songs for the album?
I had a couple of ideas with regards to songs that I loved and have loved through the years. My manager, Bill Coleman, who has been in the music business for 20 years, among his many years as manager to a wonderful roster of artists and producers, he’s also a DJ and has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening and what speaks to people.

Honestly, some of the songs I never would have thought of and he suggested them. Some of the songs, I wasn’t as familiar with [but] once I listened to, I felt “This is a great track for me.” So it was really a combination, but I have to say Bill was really the driving, guiding force behind a lot of it. “Losing My Religion,” “It’s No Crime,” and “By My Side” were songs I knew I wanted to have in the mix.

Some of the tracks he suggested were in the rock arena and that I wouldn’t have really thought of and once I got in there and did them, it was really a great way to explore that genre of music through mu musical influences. My influences are more R&B, soul, funk, and to be able to bring that to a rock anthem was really a lot of fun. Bill really was guiding the ship in that respect.

And certainly with the acappella ones, I wanted to cover some of the songs in the past I had connected to, like Fleetwood Mac, R. Kelly. Brandy. That’s how it all unfolded. It was very organic.

Was there a time during post-production when you thought, “Damn, I wish I had tried this or recorded that?”
No, actually. I have to say that I got to a place where I thought we had enough and Bill was really adamant about doing a couple more and I’m certainly glad we did, because we wouldn’t have had “Ashes to Ashes” or “Lithium” and some of the songs we did from the end of the recording process.

Once we were finished and everything was laid out, I felt it was complete. I didn’t feel there was anything missing. I really like the way that it was sequenced and I’m really happy with how this album turned out. I finished feeling that it was done, completed.

You’ve already released “Trouble” and “Music Sounds Better” as singles on iTunes. “Losing My Religion” is the lead single. Are there remixes planned?
Yes. All of the remixes that I’ve heard are smoking. It’s really kind of fun, that’s part of the fun with remixes is you get to hear a brand new song, essentially… or at least a reinterpretation, at the very least, of a track that you did for the record.

I think they cover the spectrum of what you need to cover on a remix package. I don’t know how many will be included on the package.

imageAs a fan, I’d say “the more the merrier.”
[Laughs.] Everyone has their opinion. I am of the opinion of the more options you give people, the greater the opportunity you’ll get as much play as possible. The more you cover all of the needs of a DJ, depending on the type of environment they’re playing or the kind of crowd they’re playing to, you’ll have a greater chance of getting played a lot.

Some people will give them a couple and then give them a couple more. I don’t know if that’s the best thing these days. We have a really “quick fix” kind of turn-over with regards to the consumption of new songs, so we see a lot of artists putting out multiple singles at the same time.

Some dance artists release part one and part two of singles. That seems like a trend – offering even or eight remixes and then another seven or eight of the same song a month or two later.
I certainly feel you have to plan how you roll it all out. I think you should get a good number of remixes as opposed to saying two or four remixes.

With what you just said, you have a greater opportunity to keep people engaged with a particular single for a longer period of time. You keep feeding them more remixes. I think that scheduling dynamic plays into it for sure, but some people just don’t get that many remixes done.

People have to be really creative and come up with new ways to hit the market and promote and market product because things are in such a state of flux. We’re coming into new technologies, which provide new avenues of disseminating information and product. It’s a double-edged sword because it’s great in one sense because, as I said earlier, it requires that artists put out quality product in its entirety and not just a couple of pieces of quality in a package. You have to put out a complete package of good material.

What’s life been like for you since “Tug of War” came out?
I’ve been busy. I did a lot of touring. I got to participate in the True Colors Tour. I was really happy and satisfied with that album and certainly feel like it put me on the map in a way that I hadn’t been prior. I feel like it was a great tool to move me into that next place of being a working, successful artist.

Obviously, the work never stops, especially with regard to how difficult the music business is now and how difficult it’s always been. It was a good stepping stone for me and a good learning experience and got me to where I am now, able to release more music.

It was a very intense period for me. I shifted my life from the West Coast to the East Coast, and left the familiarity of the life I knew there. My partner at the time and I spilt up. There was a lot of change happening. The whole experience was very dramatic and covered the whole spectrum of emotions.

I’m now really settled in the city–I’m actually in the city now as opposed to one of the boroughs–and feel like I’m deeper in the nuts and bolts of my career. I’ve been in music for 27 years, but I was always coming from the West Coast to the East Coast.

I feel the value of being right in the middle of everything as opposed to doing it at a distance, and certainly feel the value of being in this city. Things really move and happen in this city. Certainly, one of the main reasons I moved here was to get that train moving a lot quicker.

It’s been a really great, albeit challenging experience, over the last few years, but fulfilling in many respects. I certainly feel that I have a good family I am working with now.

Can we expect to see you on the small and big screens anytime soon?
The third season of “The Lair” starts airing on Sept. 4 and I don’t know for sure if we’re doing a fourth season yet. I have a couple of plays and a movie script I’m looking at. I certainly would love to do more acting.

My passion has always been music, but I did a lot of acting when I was younger. I love it. It’s another form of creative expression that I enjoy, so I am looking forward to doing more of it. It’s one of those things where I’m trying to juggle both pieces of the pie.

imageWill you tour for “Under the Covers”?
I’ve already stated touring. I just got back from Kiev. I’m doing stuff in the city for Pride. I’m a part of the Out Music campaign. Next weekend, I’m performing in a 40th Anniversary Stonewall concert commemorative concert. Then I’m going to Madrid. The video is up on YouTube and will be launched shortly on all of the channels that have been airing my videos so far. We’re just getting ready to make a big push for this record and keep living my life. [Laughs.]

You have time for that?
Yeah, I do. I think that’s a challenge right now. I also train to offset the peaks and valleys and also it’s just a good distraction. Fitting everything in makes for long days, but I would rather be productive and busy than be sitting around, stressing.

We recorded this album last summer. As I’m sure you’re well aware, the original release dates are never what they actually turn out to be. I did “The Lair” in the interim, I’ve been recording a new originals album to be the follow-up to the “Tug of War” album.

I’ve been able to train my clients, so while things were getting set up for this to be released, I wasn’t sedentary, stressing over when my next track was going to drop.

It makes for long days. I’ve always been a really hard worker and I’m down for the count. I think this is the most I’ve ever worked consistently in the environment of New York City. It can get intense at times. The pace here is relentless, which I love, but at a certain point, you have to jump off for a minute to get your head back together and get back on. I try and figure out a little down time between all of this stuff.

So you have no time for a personal life, then?
No, I’m actually in a relationship. I’ve been in this relationship for about a year. I was single for about a year and a half. I needed to process my breakup from last relationship and also focus on what I came here to do.

Then I got to a place where I opened myself up to whatever the universe was going to throw my way… which I think is the best way. I absolutely did not anticipate this relationship, but it’s really been lovely. We have a wonderful time together. I’m enjoying sharing my life and experiences with him.

(Photos by Karl Giant)

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