Inspiration is the key to making all dreams come true. There wasn’t no sage person who was quoted with saying this, it just it a universal fact, and one that a l l i e lives by as a talent influenced by classic soul singers like Otis Redding and Etta James. But that’s not all, America, as the imaginative ingenue as also infatuated with experimental artists such as Little Dragon and Flying Lotus.
Her 2013 effort, Strange Creature, was crafted on that blended diversity of soul and sci-fi sound. It was a formula well concocted as press around the world lauded her EP, while Red Bull made her one of its first Canadians to be chosen as a Sound Select artist in 2014. Standing out in a crowd of wannabes, a l l i e has increased her star potential by linking up with choice selectors such as Nick Wisdom (Bastard Jazz), Da-P (Soulection) and Elaquent (HW&W).
With her latest project, Nightshade, slated for release on July 21, 2017 (which you can pre-order here) — we here at Okayplayer were fortunate enough to have a bit of a l l i e’s time as she sat down with us to talk about her musical influences, creating safe spaces for others and overcoming depression for this week’s installment of First Look Friday. Before you dive into the words, though, please check out the premiere of her Mark Martin-directed, Birthday Boy-produced video / song for “Bad Habits,” which you can watch below. Enjoy!
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
a l l i e: I think they’re seeing and hearing somebody who’s authentic in their work. I don’t try to follow any trends in my music, I just do what feels natural to me, and that always seems to speak to people.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
a: Lauryn Hill, Little Dragon, Erykah Badu, Frank Ocean, Amy Winehouse, Flying Lotus… the list goes on forever. But all my influences have a common thread in that there’s something about them that’s unique. I love artists that have a distinctive style, and as soon as you hear their music you know it’s them.
OKP: Can you talk about how your life was while developing as an artist? How did you react to your first bits of press?
a: I was in this little creation bubble for years that was very solitary, and my process is still like that—it’s all about retreating into myself and being alone with my thoughts and the energy around me. Then I started putting shit out and getting a bit of press, and it made me pause and think about what I was manifesting. Like, is this the life I really want? I kept taking steps forward and then a bunch back because I didn’t know how to deal with it. And that set me on a path of trying to find a greater purpose with the work I was putting out.
OKP: With incidents involving people of color, police and racist occurring almost on a daily basis around the globe — how can your music (and/or others) help to relieve the trauma that is being experienced by the masses?
a: It’s so hard to reckon with the state of the world right now. We’re watching public executions live streamed, we’re watching people get murdered solely because of their race and it’s terrifying. It has such a huge impact on our mental states as people of color. Music is so healing, it’s been the most healing aspect of my life. So my goal is to transfer some of that healing to others, to create spaces to appreciate each other, empower each other and reclaim our worth.
OKP: What have been the most definitive obstacles that you’ve overcome in your career thus far?
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