Being the son of a billionaire means Emin’s music career comes from a place of love, says Gerry Quinn.
HE WAS born in Azerbaijan, brought up in Moscow but he speaks English with an American accent. Emin Agalarov or just plain old Emin, is a wealthy businessman and he’s also one of Russia’s most popular pop music stars.
Sitting in his suite of a luxury Paris hotel, just off the Champs Elysees, the 35-year-old genially replies to my question as to who he is. “I’m a few things — singer/songwriter would be the first — father to two boys, they are twins. I am also involved in a few businesses that help me take my musical career and make it financially independent from the industry, which I absolutely enjoy. Because I end up singing songs that I believe in — that don’t necessarily need to earn me a living. I think that is a very adventurous position to be in, in terms of art, in terms of music.”
And the American accent? “My family moved out of Baku when I was three years old. For the next 10 years I was in Moscow. Then I ended up in the United States. I went to school in New Jersey — Tenafly High School,” says a singer, who may be familiar from his interval performance at the Eurovision in 2012.
Emin’s initial foray into the world of business was an eBay venture. “I used to bring watches, clocks and modern art and sell them on eBay. With a friend, I rented an office and had 800 ongoing auctions every week, which was a big deal. We were successful out of the United States because it was easy to ship to any country and get a quick delivery. Ebay was not very Russian-friendly at the time, so it was a big business and music was kind of in the background. I could write songs but I didn’t know what to do with them,” he admits.
Moving back to Moscow to join his father’s business (his father, Aras Agalarov, is one of the richest men in the world and is the founder of Crocus International, a company specialisingin trade fairs), Emin soon decided that he wanted to have a go at music. “I made a firm decision that I wanted to pursue my musical ambition and actually do it right,” he says. “At the age of 23 I was recording songs and at 25 I recorded an album and at 26, which is almost 10 years ago, I released my first album which is called Still.”
In the interim, he has made a further seven albums, making him a huge sensation in his native Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey. His latest offering is titled More Amor and ‘Footsteps’, taken from the album, is the current Irish single. With Emin’s popularity soaring at home he has taken the conscious decision to branch out and try and conquer the rest of Europe.
He’s playing his first Irish show at Dublin’s Sugar Club next month. A huge Elvis Presley fan, Emin was in Dublin in early March for a whirlwind press briefing. He speaks of that Irish whistle-stop with affection.
“I met my idol Phil Coulter, who wrote ‘My Boy’ for Elvis. I am working on a covers album and when I come back to Ireland, perhaps I’ll sing that song and maybe he’ll come up and play the piano with me,” he says. “And if we could actually do a recording maybe he would hit the studio and I’d have him play the original piano for the song. I want to do a beautiful production with an orchestra, of the songs that inspired me to become a musician.” Over to you, Phil.
Emin plays his first ever Irish date at the Sugar Club, Dublin, on May 27.
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