Pop

How Alexander Jean Turned Relationship Woes Into Heartfelt Music – And a Real-Life Love Story: Interview

Alexander Jean
London Light Photography

Alexander Jean

Mark Ballas and BC Jean have the type of romance that could’ve been plucked straight out of a movie. Their eyes glow when they look at each other, exuding a chemistry so electric you can feel it. Like all great love stories, though, the couple's journey to happily ever after was stocked with conflict and plot twists. Now, they’re telling their tale as the indie husband-wife duo Alexander Jean, sharing their inspirational (and ultra-relatable) experiences with the world.

Ballas and Jean became an official music duo in 2015, but Alexander Jean -- a combination of their two middle names -- is just now gaining speed, recently being named Elvis Duran's Artist of the Month and performing on the Today show in November. And with Ballas ending a two-month run as leading man Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway last month, he and Jean are ready to grow their project even more, devoting all their time and energy to their music over the holidays and into the new year.

Despite the craziness of Ballas’ eight-shows-a-week Broadway schedule, the couple managed to put out a single, “Waiting for You,” on Oct. 26. The punchy, guitar-heavy pop-rock jam hints at the troubled relationships BC and Ballas dealt with before meeting in 2012, ironically while they were living pretty parallel lives.

“We had so many mutual friends before we met. We used to hang out at the same places, roll in the same crowds, and I always wondered,” Ballas says while turning to Jean, “How many times was I at the ATM when you were at the bar? How many times did I come and say hi to someone at the table you sat at, and we never even knew each other?”

Since their paths crossed at a concert hosted by a mutual friend six years ago, though, they’ve grown stronger as individuals and as a couple. Before tying the knot in November 2016, Ballas and Jean each dealt with infidelity and immaturity in their pasts, as detailed in the new single. “She f---ed my friends and with my head to get the better of me,” Mark sings on the opening verses of “Waiting for You,” with BC declaring, “Kept breaking their hearts before they got to breaking mine” on the charged-up chorus.

The video for “Waiting for You” mirrors their real-life love struggle and triumph as well: The two are both in their underwear at the beginning, representing how stripped and worn down Jean and Ballas felt from the pains of past relationships. As the song builds, they start to recover from the past, eventually giving in to the magnetic force pulling them together. They end performing and partying together, confirming that they can trust in love again.

Though Ballas and Jean’s romance flourished almost instantly, it took time for their musical partnership to catch up. Mark was performing in a band while BC was singing her own material, and the pair didn’t write their first song together until about a year and a half into their relationship. But once they started performing as a duo, the couple realized their collaborative onstage potential.

“We would do these little moments together, and after the shows, people would be like, ‘When y’all did that thing together, that was my favorite part,’” Ballas recalls. “And that’s kind of what started this whole thing.”

There’s no forcing their spark, which makes Alexander Jean shows feel drenched in intimacy. “We get to spend a lot of time together, but we don’t get to spend a lot of relationship time together,” BC says. “It’s fun to be onstage because you get to flirt with each other, and people get to see that chemistry. Sometimes I think people get nervous watching like, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t be watching this.' [Laughs] Yeah, it’s raw.”

Without a manager or label, Mark and BC have learned to be self-contained, utilizing the skills of other creative people around them and taking in everything that they can. The two have written more than 25 songs together, including three they’re particularly excited to release in 2019. Though “Waiting For You” blends Jean’s edgy, gritty tone with Ballas’ pop sensibilities, fans can expect some of Alexander Jean’s forthcoming material to be ballads, as Ballas praises his wife’s songwriting skills in that realm. A co-writer on Beyoncé's 2008 hit "If I Were a Boy," BC admits, “I can’t help it -- give me a sad story, and I’m going to write the hell out of it.”

Through the poignant material, Jean is ultimately hoping that sharing their personal stories of overcoming heartbreak can help others through journeys of their own. “Through the battles, I feel like it takes you to a really better place,” she says. Ballas couldn’t agree more: "As long as people are feeling something, and they can take something from our story and kind of [say], 'Oh yeah, I went through something like that,’ then we’re doing our job."