He is a successful musician who collaborates with some of the biggest names from the music industry. His music videos feature famous politicians like Donald Trump. Besides, he is a successful business man and a father of two. It was a cordial, simple, open conversation with Emin at the Wiltern Theatre, an Art Deco landmark at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue in Los Angeles, California where Emin performed alongside David Foster and Nile Rodgers.
Juliet: Your singing career took off when you were in your twenties?
Emin: Yes, at twenty six I released my first record. However my first album was released when I was sixteen.
Juliet: Your urge to sing came early then.
Emin: Yes, around the age of thirteen, fourteen.
Juliet: Who inspired your dream of becoming a singer?
Emin: Elvis Presley, Muslim Magomayev and Adriano Celentano. Three of the greatest artist that influenced me.
Juliet: Song Blue Eternity from one of your albums is currently playing on repeat in my car. It features the greatest Muslim Magomayev. This song takes me back to my childhood in Baku. How does this song translates to you?
Emin: Well, for me, I knew Muslim since I was a child, before the time I even realized who Muslim Magomayev was. My grandfather, my dad were great friends with him. As I grew older I learned his repertoire and realized what a great singer and artist he was. Blue Eternity is always a very special song to me. This song represents the powerful voice of Muslim, it represents Baku and beautiful Caspian sea shores. Muslim is the author of this song and it is magical. A lot of my friends, not necessarily Russian speaking, but Americans, French, German, when they hear the music their reaction is always WOW. You instantly fall in love with the artist even if you didn't know the artist before. This is what I want for my career as a singer, I want my music to give those goose bumps and the emotional roller coaster like "Blue Eternity" does. And you don't necessarily have to have loud, strong voice, but you have to be able to perform it emotionally. When you listen to Muslim, you instantly believe him. Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Sade, Celentano, to list few of my favorites, they all have that unique something that touches your soul and gets you addicted to their singing.
Juliet: You are currently touring with David Foster and Nile Rodgers? What does this collaboration give you?
Emin: It just happened that I met David through PBS, which aired my concert on public television in USA. I did a concert with David in Saint Petersburg where 50 thousand fans showed up. It was really grand and the concert aired 600 plus times on American TV. After that I signed a contract with PBS to tour for the audience of PBS, which is why I traveled to Chicago (where I've never been before), Connecticut. Those are cities with the largest number of viewers. Unlike other Russian performers, my audience now includes 30% to 60% of Americans, English speaking fans. That is why my track list consists of songs mainly in English. David Foster was the biggest part of this program because he was performing on PBS before I joined. David had his own show. I asked him to join me and he agreed to tour and sing with me half of the program. I met Nile Rodgers in New York, at one of the charity evenings for The Association of Community Employment Programs for the Homeless (ACE) founded by Henry Buhl. Nile, who was once homeless himself did a speech and right after him I performed few of my songs, including Boomerang. When I headed backstage Nile said, "Emin, this is a great song. It could be a hit for you". I said, "Nile, it can't be a hit if you are not on it. So, this song released as Emin, featuring Nile Rodgers. It is now song #6 on American charts and song #3 on American dance charts. It was my most successful single ever.
Juliet: Who would you want to perform a duet with from American artists?
Emin: I don't necessarily seek for duets, but today I will perform with Emmanuel Kelly. He has an incredible story of survival after being abandoned in a dumpster in Iraq and suffering from limb injuries. He was adopbted by Australian humanitarian worker, Moira Kelly. Emmanuel performed on X Factor with song "Imagine" and I fell in love with him as a person and an artist. A very positive and talented young man. I invited him to perform duet with me at my concert in Los Angeles, so I am very excited about that. Duets like this I love to do. It's not my goal to perform duets with other big artists and I do know many American artists personally. Nile Rodgers I met at the charity event, with David Foster I connected during PBS program, I talk to many great American artist like Lionel Richie, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler who came to my Miss Universe competition together with Donald Trump. I have my own concert hall in Moscow, I manage it as well I get to meet and know them all personally.
Juliet: A lot of your songs that you write lyrics and music to are sad, romantic and emotional. Do you seek inspiration from your personal life experience?
Emin: Why? Boomerang is a happy song, so is Good Love__(laughing). I really love ballads. Ballads by Elvis Presley, Celentano, Sade are my favorites. When I was creating my first songs, I wasn't using the most modern equipment, I was using piano and when you use classical instrument, it always comes out slow, medium tempo, very lyrical. In terms of lyrics, they are not always based on my own life experience. Yes, it could be something that happened in my life or I try to interpret the mood of a close friend whose heart was broken by his loved one. We sit down together, share a bottle of wisky, he'll tell me what happened, then when I am alone I'd think it through and write a song about it.
Juliet: You also own and manage Crocus City Mall in Moscow where you sell a lot of luxury brands. But do you have any favorites from the emerging brands?
Emin: I am currently obsessed with G-Star Raw. I signed a franchize with them and will be opening two stores in Russia. The other brand is John Varvatos. I am great friends with John, he came to visit me in Moscow. These two brands I believe in, I think they have a great potential.
Juliet: I often see you wear suits on stage? Who designs your suits?
Emin: It is either John Varvatos or Yves Saint Laurent. Jeans that I own are usually by John Varvatos, boots as well, I don't concentrate on brands that much.
Juliet: Do you see yourself in movies?
Emin: Good question. I am filming my first movie role this June in Saint Petersburg. I am also producing another movie. I think come next year, you'll see me in movies.
Juliet: Talk about your two wonderful sons. Are they proud of their dad?
Emin: I think they are, but I also think they are not at that age to understand it completely. They understand that I am famous. One time we were walking together in Dubai and a golf cart with fans drove by us. Girls were shouting my name, my son looked at me and said, "Dad, you have so many fans and I have none". To which I said, "Be patient, you're only 7" I try to be a fun dad for them, just like my father, Aras Agalarov was for me. I always wanted to spend time with him, even now. He is a very cool dad and I want my kids to feel the same way about me.