Could the next Justin Bieber be another Canadian boy, this time from Niagara?
The media has been set alight lately by 14-year-old Christian Lalama of St. Catharines, who has garnered himself international attention as a rising pop star, with many calling him the next Bieber.
Niagara Now chatted with Lalama on Tuesday to find out how a 14-year-old handles that kind of pressure and to dig into the mind of Canada’s latest rising sensation.
In some regards, Lalama is just like most kids his age — he attends high school, likes to hang out with his friends and enjoys risking breaking his neck doing flips on one of his three trampolines.
But then there is the other life he leads, one that does have the kinds of Bieber-ish undertones that most teen musicians only dream of.
Lalama has been singing professionally since he was 11 and is currently on tour throughout the US three days a week, performing with a pop group called Rock Your Hair.
On top of that, his social media is taking off, bringing opportunities to work with established artists across the continent.
He currently has nearly 160,000 YouTube subscribers, more than 12,000 likes on Facebook, more than 8,000 followers on Twitter, as well as nearly a million subscribers on Musical.ly and more than 250,000 followers on Instagram.
His latest song Helicopter has racked up more than 100,000 views in little more than a week.
It’s no wonder people and media are calling him the next Bieber.
For Lalama, who has made several TV appearances in the past months, he said the whole situation hasn’t quite set in yet.
“I always just find it crazy the fact that I have this many supporters. I still haven’t fully understood it yet, but at the same time it feels right … It’s hard to to explain, but it definitely feels like the right path.”
Lalama, whose main instrument is piano, said he writes some of his music and records from home with the help of his dad, who is also a musician in St. Catharines.
His most recent song “Helicopter” was written and sent to him by US-based artist Dawin, whose songs Dessert and Jumpshot, have hundreds of millions of views on YouTube.
“I heard the song and I’m like, “this is pretty dope, I want to give this a shot,” and we ended up making a video for it and recording it,” Lalama said.
The video, published Feb. 9 on YouTube, had 106,475 views at the time of writing this story.
“So it was worth it, definitely,” he added.
Lalama said as far as his friends go, most are pretty down-to-earth about his rising fame.
“A lot of my closer friends, they just see me as their friend. They don’t really think about any of that stuff,” Lalama said. “But like other kids that I don’t know too well, they definitely will come up to me and be like ‘bro, I saw you on TV, that’s crazy’ and I’m like ‘ya, that’s pretty cool.’”
He said it feels pretty good to know that people are following his music and what’s happening in his life.
Between music and school, it’s a lot to manage being 14, he said. His teachers, although supportive of his career, aren’t always happy about the amount of class time he’s forced to miss.
“I’m never at school, which they don’t really like that much. But it’s alright … cause they all are really happy with what I’m doing. We usually find a balance in between where I have to do a bunch of work and get caught up.”
“It’s a lot of stress … but it’s not too bad.”
When asked how he feels about the comparisons being made between himself and Justin Bieber, Lalama said it’s flattering, though he hopes he can stay more grounded if his career takes off to that level.
“I mean I hope I don’t go through a bad phase like his… But I’d gladly be the next Justin Bieber. That’s pretty crazy that I’m being compared to someone like that.”
“I hope one day to be as big as him, but I definitely don’t want to go through a phase like that. Who knows if it will happen or not, but let’s just hope not.”
He said when he’s on tour he’ll be bringing family members with him, depending on who wants to come, and will be returning home to visit often.
As far as where his career will take him to live in the future, he thinks he’ll likely end up in Los Angeles, as much as he’d like to stay in Canada.
“There’s just much more opportunity there. Whenever I’m there we just get so much done. They have the whole business side of things down there.”
He said last year he was in LA about once a month, and he’s been too many times to count at this point.
Lalama said seeing the fans he has in different places and watching that fan base grow within the last two years has been the best part of touring.
“It’s crazy to realize how many different people around the world know who I am,” said Lalama.
Currently Lalama is spending his time writing songs and working on his social media when he’s not on tour or catching up on school work.
“I’m just kinda having fun right now,” he said.
When he’s not doing music, he likes to spend his time with friends or on the trampoline.
“I do a lot of flips,” Lalama said.
“I’ve gotten injured many times from it, but that’s probably my favourite hobby when it’s warm outside … I’ve been told to stop by a lot of people, but I don’t know.”
Lalama’s latest song Helicopter can be found below.
If you’re looking to travel, he’ll be performing in Dallas, Texas on Feb. 23.