Dance and music have always gone hand in hand. But, since the early '80s, choreography and pop music began to push the limits of the singing dancer; or is it dancing singer? The exploration of this cross-section of the arts has been embraced fully by Brian Puspos.

Mr. Puspos is known internationally for his choreography, but now he's throwing his hat into the artist ring. I caught up with Puspos over the phone to discuss his childhood, his journey through dance, and how he'ss looking to push the boundaries of storytelling through both his dancing and music.

So, let's start from the beginning. Where did you grow up and what was life like as a kid?

I was born in Houston, Texas. And I basically went to an all-black school for 12 years. Have you ever heard of "step teams" in the south? Yeah, so one day I was walking through the cafeteria, and I saw a stepper- a step team member- and I was like, 'Woah, I want to do that!' But, the only problem was, I was kind of Asian and everyone else was African-American. It didn't stop me though. I still tried out and long story short, I wound up being the captain of the Step Team for four years. And we wound up winning district and all that jazz. So, that was kind of my upbringing- being around black culture and just watching shows like Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Martin. I picked up those mannerisms and stuff.

It's a very rhythmic culture with a lot of dancing. And, with me being Filipino, every Filipino is naturally a dancer. I guess that it just went hand in hand. And my parents were kind of competitive ballroom-salsa dancers. Again, so when I wasn't around my friends or at school, my home life was around dance. And also, every Filipino I guess are singers. My parents, brother, and sisters sang. I kind of just picked that up as well. Before I knew it, they were just throwing me on little local talent shows. I would be up there with my little headset. I was doing Backstreet Boys and N'SYNC routines, Usher routines.

Nice! So, you started off with dancing and singing. But, which one came first for you?

If I was dancing, I was singing, too. Even if it was mimicking MTV music videos or anything like that. At the same time, if you had asked me what I wanted to do back then as a kid, I would have told you I wanted to be a singer.

And the dance revolution is pretty brand new. When I did take up dancing, it was around 2006. And around 2006, the dance revolution was not around. The birth of YouTube was just beginning. Today's generation, everyone wants to be a social media influencer. But, back then, YouTube was just a simple sharing tool where you could put up videos. Everything that happened was supernatural and happened by itself. Nowadays, there's algorithms and strategic things you can do to make your video go viral. But, I'm proud to say that I'm from an era where the sharing and picking up momentum happened organically. I take a lot of pride in that.

So, you put up YouTube videos to showcase your talents. People took notice of you, especially for your dancing. Is that what led you into choreography?

So, when I started getting noticed, Chris Brown would tweet my videos. It was pretty cool. I was younger, so obviously I was a little more pumped. And back in those days, social media stuff was all still super new. Nowadays, if you get a retweet from an artist or celebrity, it's kind of a standard.

But, I started getting recognition and people started booking me to perform and teach dance. The dance world is a whole other beast. Like, back in the day, if I sat on a plane and the person next to me asked what I do, I would say teach dance, and I would immediately see the picture that was popping up in that guy's head. But, in the dance world, we have our own tiers of dance celebrities. So, teaching a dance class is completely different than what you think. I'm still teaching dance. It's just a whole other experience. I was getting booked to teach dance all over the world. In the past three-and-a-half years I've been to 43 different countries.

Oh wow. And when you're teaching dance, is it a specific style, like just "step" or urban styles, or do you teach several different styles?

I've deemed what I teach under the "Urban Dance" umbrella. So, the styles fall into that category. Throughout the years I've learned you can't always categorise things anymore because if I call something hip-hop, people will say it's not hip-hop enough. So, we just call it urban dance and pull from different genres. I've curated my own style in terms of choreography. I was self-taught and one of the few teachers doing this back in the day. And what's happened is, since I've curated such a home-grown, unorthodox style. When it came time for me to present my style to actual instructors and dance teams, they were like, "Yo, that's not hip-hop. But, I really like what you're doing. Keep it up." And it's been my stamp ever since.

And how did finally getting to choreograph for some big name artists come about and who did you choreograph for?

You know, people from Houston are very prideful. There's images of LA and what it is and the reputation does precede itself in certain parts. So, it was kind of hard for me to transition to LA because I was so against what everyone was saying about the industry. Being in LA, the life of a dancer, you're going through all these cattle calls of auditions. You don't have something stable. And when it comes to back-up dancing, it's some peoples' paths, but I felt like I was meant for something else.

I remember passing by an audition line and getting the weirdest vibes. I saw people who were friends, but they weren't friends in that line. Everyone looked so sombre and so serious. And I told myself that I never want to put myself through that. There has to be another way. So, I focused on moulding myself and sharpening what I can contribute to the dance world.

So, instead of auditioning for the artists, their camps would hit me up based on my work. So that was Justin Bieber, Marques Houston. Marques Houston was a big deal for me because that was my upbringing- just good old R&B. I choreographed three videos of his. It was surreal. It was a bigger moment for me than Justin Bieber because I loved Marques so much growing up. And once my work was out there in the universe, I just started going through the rotations- like with K-pop artists; which is pretty cool because they are on the other side of the world. And English isn't their first language. So, to be able to connect with them in an art form is pretty cool.

That's awesome.

Yeah, it's still pretty surreal. I remember being at the Justin Bieber shoot for 'Beauty and the Beat' and looking at my friends on the job as back-up dancers; and I remember thinking, "Wow, they really want to be here as dancers." And then I was looking at Bieber's house choreographer and thinking, "Man, I want to do something like that." I wanted to be like either of those two- either the choreographer or the artist.

I love the Rat Pack. I remember looking up like, Fred Astaire. And back then, dancers used to walk the Red Carpet as dancers. I dreamed of being like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, you know? And then on top of that, being Asian-American; that is something I definitely want to fight for. Because we are more than just karate and nerds.

I can only imagine. And how did you go from doing choreography to being a singer and having your EP drop?

When I die- and hopefully that's a long time from now- I want people to remember me as a storyteller. I tell stories through my movements in dance. I even have a reminder tattooed on my forearm: 'Made to be greater'. And it's a reminder that no matter what I accomplish, I can always do better.

And so, I have to keep thinking of ways to be a storyteller. I did it with dancing, and the ultimate package is telling a story through dance and with song. Because every story I've told through dance has been pulled form real life- whether it was a heartache or new love, or anything. So, I just pursued signing as well, and it came about.

And at the end of the day, all I really want to do is buy my mom a house. And just do that any way I can. I'm not too shy to risk things. I dive in head first. And hopefully people will connect with it.