How’s this for an irony: Christian Berishaj — better known by his nom de pop Christian TV — had to leave Detroit to sign with Motown.
The 25-year-old artist, who was raised in Eastpointe and formerly fronted the band Love Arcade, has been in Los Angeles for the better part of five years. It’s there, since going solo, that he’s developed a fast-growing rep with pop hits such as “When She Turns 18” — which landed him an appearance on “So You Think You Can Dance” after Britney Spears tweeted it was one of her favorites — and “Love 2 Baby.” His “1, 2, 3 Turnaround” appeared in the 2009 film “Fired Up,” and he toured with the Backstreet Boys last year.
And now he’s signed to Universal Motown, although TV certainly knows the difference between being a Motown artist now and back in the Hitsville USA day.
“I don’t want to say my music is Motown music — which I love, by the way,” TV explains. “I’m glad to be under that name, but I wouldn’t want to say I’m a Motown artist like Stevie (Wonder) or Marvin Gaye or those people, y’know?
“It’s just good for me to know that I’m from Detroit and it’s Motown and it’s a good vibe. But I would never say I’m a ‘true’ Motown artist. I feel like I have to earn that.”
TV’s recent success has him on his way, however.
Though raised poor, he became prolific on several instruments including violin and guitar as a youth and began recording when he was 12. While at South Lake High School in St. Clair Shores, TV formed a band called Snowhite, which eventually became his performing handle in Love Arcade. He had the group’s first album written by the time he was 18, and partly thanks to his mother’s efforts, landed a recording contract in 2005 and put the “Love Arcade” album out in 2006.
Within a couple of years, however, the band was history. “I was just more passionate about doing my solo thing,” TV says now. “We had a good run. We toured for a very long time, and after that it was just ... in the air. We had to go do our own separate things during our own time.”
By the time Love Arcade closed up shop, TV also realized that he was “happier” working in Los Angeles, feeling it offered more opportunities for what he hoped to do next. “I wanted to take the same path as a Justin Timberlake,” he explains,” “not to sound like that, but to be one of those artists that is successful in the pop world but can be experimental and make albums instead of just singles.”
And, he adds, “I don’t think Love Arcade was (successful) enough for anybody to notice, like, ‘Hey, that’s the guy from Love Arcade!’ It was just, ‘Oh, this is Christian TV. This is some cool new (stuff).”
He has, of course, been a singles sensation so far — including the recently released “I’m In Love,” which TV says was inspired by a night out clubbing.
“I just saw the people enjoying the time they were having and was like, ‘What do you feel when you’re like that?’ “ he says. “It’s kind of like this moment when you’re in love with everything around you. That’s a feeling everybody wants and longs for, so of course I wanted to write about it.”
It, along with his other singles, will eventually be part of TV’s first album, “Diary of an ’80s Baby,” which he’s worked on with collaborators such as Kevin Rudolf and No I.D. and is due out later this year. He says with a laugh that it’s been finished “several times” but winds up being called back because he just keeps writing more songs — which is not necessarily a bad problem to have.
“I’m constantly writing, so it’s constantly evolving the record,” TV says. “It could be done right now if there’s a need for me to put (an album) out right now. But right now we need to get more awareness. We need more people to be longing for a record.
“We’re looking at Christmastime right now, so we’ll try to stick for that. But right now I’m just pushing ‘I’m In Love’ and we’ll go from there — and hopefully it’ll keep going forward.”
Christian TV performs with Millionaires, Breathe Electric and Set It Off on Saturday, June 18, at the Eagle Theatre, 15 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $12.50 in advance, $15 at the door. Call 248-858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.
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