Mark Ballas is best known as a pro and two-time mirrorball champion on Dancing with the Stars, but these days he is more likely to be found with a guitar in hand, performing original music with his equally talented wife, BC Jean. They call their band Alexander Jean (a blend of their middle names) and they are a match made in musical heaven. Broadway Wiz was invited to see Mark and BC perform at the Charmin Restrooms Wrap Party in Times Square and it was evident how much chemistry they have on stage together.
Mark, what came first, your love of music or dancing?
Mark: For me, it was kind of all at once. I come from a family of musicians. My dad was a flamenco guitar player. My grandmother was a flamenco castanet player. My uncle is a guitar player and my mother was a dancer, so from a very young age I was always introduced to cool music, whether it be from flamenco to rock, blues, funk, soul. And then I was always around dancing. I loved music first because without music you can’t move and vice versa. They go hand in hand for me. My dad is a great guitar player, so I wanted to be a guitar player and then I discovered Kurt Cobain and then it was over, everything just kind of came together at once. From age 4 I went to musical theater classes on the weekend where I would do singing, acting, dancing, tap, jazz, all that stuff. I kept up with that every week until I was 21 years old. I went to a high school and college for musical theater. I started playing guitar at age 9 and then I started getting really heavy into dance when I was about 12. So, always been in the arts.
BC, where does your love of music come from and when did you know you wanted to create music?
BC: I have always loved music and I always would sing and it was always in me since I was very little. When I was five or six I would write poems. I would hide in my closet at night and write my emotions and cry and be romantic and then my poems became songs. When I was 13 I started writing actual songs and that turned into me wanting to sing and then I started taking voice lessons. I did piano lessons too when I was very young. My grandparents were also in the arts and did Perry Como and Fred Waring. They lived in upstate New York, so I grew up watching them always practicing and performing together, which was so cool. They were really talented. I think at 14 is when I convinced my parents I am serious. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Stop talking about college because I already know what I want to do. I want to go to LA and just write music and express myself. And they went for it, so since then I have been doing this.
How would you describe the Alexander Jean sound?
Mark: Raw for one because it always starts with the acoustic guitar and our voices.
BC: Acoustic pop.
Mark: It’s honest.
BC: Honest. Soulful.
Mark: It’s insightful to our lives. We are kind of telling our stories but try to tell them in a non-selfish way so everyone can relate to them. I would like to say it’s a cocktail of rock/pop singer‑songwriter but yes, just very honest and raw.
Can you tell us the story behind Paper Planes? Who’s idea was it to use wedding footage in the music video?
Mark: Well, the cool thing was I had the riff for maybe two years and I would always play it. It was kind of a practice riff for me.
BC: And we knew we wanted to write a song based upon our vows and our wedding and our love story. Something that other people can dance to at their wedding if they wanted to. Something very romantic. So when those two connected, we decided to do Paper Planes, Mark was folding up our vows into a box like a keepsake. It was an origami thing or paper planes. So that’s where the concept came in. I am not sure how it came about, but we ended up talking about it and how we should go back to our actual wedding venue and perform acoustically there and involve all of these things into one video. Actual footage from the wedding, the acoustic video, footage from the location, and honest lyrics from our vows.
What’s the best part of getting to work together?
Mark: Oh, man. We just get to do so many cool things. I mean, we have been on tour with Lindsey Stirling. In the last year and a half, we have had three tours. We have been playing massive theaters and small arenas and then we play small venues like a cafe back home. We played Webster Hall here a few times.
BC: We get to do what we love with the person we love. We get to travel together and do cool events like this.
Mark: I mean, we were in Portland, Oregon yesterday and then we flew here overnight.
BC: And we have each other.
Mark: Charmin invited us out here to be at this awesome event today–
BC: It would be much more boring if we were by ourselves. We could hang out. It’s cool.
How do you both like to unwind after a show?
BC: Either whiskey or some yoga. I actually did some yoga in the Charmin Zen bathroom over there earlier. Have you seen them? They are really cool. There are 14 different rooms.
Mark: It is really cool, because when I was on Jersey Boys, I would walk through this area every day trying to find a clean bathroom. So the fact Charmin has done this, it’s cleaned after every use, it’s like right here.
BC: You guys have to do a little tour of all of the bathrooms because they are really cool.
Mark: Pretty amazing.
Mark, we loved seeing you in Jersey Boys last year. Any plans to return to Broadway?
Mark: I would love to, yes. It’s definitely on the list at some point. We would love to be in a show together. We talked about doing Jesus Christ Superstar. It would be cool with her as Mary, me as Judas, it would be kind of interesting because we play against each other.
BC: Something rock and roll badass would be fun.
Mark: Something that’s rocking.
BC, would you ever consider being a contestant on Dancing with the Stars?
BC: Oh, I don’t know. I will see, if they ask me.
You recently released a new Christmas music video– do you have any favorite holiday traditions?
Mark: Oh, man. Usually with my family –
BC: Christmas is his dad’s birthday.
Mark: It’s my dad’s birthday. So we always do the white elephant game with the family.
BC: On Christmas Eve.
Mark: But it’s changed this year. We are not doing that.
BC: We are doing games this year with prizes and stuff. We have to make our own traditions. We actually just bought a book last holiday and we got to write down every detail of what we have done, so this year we will have to bring it back out. That’s going to be our new tradition. And I think we should get matching pajamas
Mark: Maybe Charmin could do them. I would wear those with a bear on them.