Canadian singer and songwriter, Alyssa Reid, will release her brand new intimate and unplugged album, Phoenix, on November 27th via Wax Records. Featuring eight songs + two bonus tracks, you’ll hear Alyssa’s music as you’ve never heard it before.
We sat down to chat with Alyssa to find out about the new direction she decided to take with her music, her artistic growth, challenges creating music, and more.
As the album release of “Phoenix” nears, are there nerves involved?
Always. You spend so much time working on something and you pour your entire heart and soul into it, so it is always nerve wracking when it is finished and you’re just waiting for it to be released.
You walked away from the polished pop with this album — it definitely has a raw, extra emotional feeling. Why was it important for you to take a step in this direction?
I guess I just focused for so long on writing for radio and being very methodical and formulaic with my writing. I wanted to release something that was honest and felt that it came straight from my heart. That is what this album is. It is personal experiences and its real stories, real things that have happened and my true, honest feelings about what I was going through in those moments.
How would you say the creative process changed this time around?
I think this process was a little bit different for me because what this album essentially is a compilation of songs I have written for myself but also songs I have written for other artists. Some of these songs have already been pre-released and people may have already heard them in a different way or light. This process was a little different because it was a matter of re-creating those songs in a way that was honest to how they were origionally written.
When you look back on the recording process for the album, what immediate thoughts come to mind?
It just happened much quicker than I thought it was going to. This album came together very quickly. It was partially because a lot of the songs were already written. There were songs that I had written probably even two years ago. The writing process came a lot quicker. It just became a matter of putting them together and figuring out the best way to compliment them musically.
I am put in a place where I can make an impact on people’s lives, just by doing something I absolutely love. I think that has been my favourite part of this journey since the moment it started.
Being constantly uprooted to move around, how do you feel that has impacted your music?
I guess it created a sense of independence from me because I never really had time to stick my roots in the ground so I just focused on music and songwriting and no matter where I went that was my focus. It just shaped me into my songwriting and I guess it shaped a lot of the emotional aspects of my songs as well.
You mentioned that the album came together faster than you thought it would, but there had to have been some challenges. What were the biggest challenges during the creation of the album?
I think the biggest challenges were just finding a way to make the songs my own. A lot of the songs I had written for other people and when you’re writing for others, you have them in mind, their style, their songs are tailored towards them. I took those songs and made them my own, not just lyrically, but musically. I think that was the biggest challenge for me; finding a way to have those songs represent me when I already had them engraved in my brain with somebody else’s voice and someone else’s style already on them.
Can you talk a bit about the artistic growth you feel you experienced throughout the creation of the album?
I feel like I spent the last few years working and writing with a lot of people. I have taken a lot from those experiences and from those sessions and I feel like it really helped my songwriting get much better. I feel like I am able to have the confidence to be more decisive of what I want and what I want to represent me. I feel like I am at the point now where I get to decide how I feel I should represent myself. Before, I kind of felt like I had to fit into a box.
The fact that I have been able to make three albums in my career is an outstanding thing. It is amazing and I am really appreciative of it.
What expectations do you have for yourself when you’re creating music?
I don’t really have any expectations of myself in those moments. They usually come when a certain situation has happened to influence them and in those moments the only thing I am focused on is translating the mess of thoughts in my head into a song. I don’t really focus on anything more than just trying to write down what I am feeling and what is on my mind. It is like writing in a journal; you write what comes to you and that is where your focus and attention is.
What makes a good song?
I feel like that is a trick question because there are good songs and then there are songs for radio. I feel like songs for radio are a complete other thing. I feel like a good song has to have relate ability, it has to be honest and it has to reach out to someone and grab them. Songs for radio just have to be catchy. You could say the exact same word over and over again and if you say it in a catchy way, it’s a hit. Suddenly it is topping all the charts, but it could be about absolutely nothing. I don’t judge a song based on its status at radio or on iTunes. For me, a good song is something that when I am in a terrible moment, or when I’m in an amazing moment, I want to listen to a song to elevate that moment for me, that is the song I would go to.
What do you value most about your whole experience in music?
I just value that it has given me a sense of purpose. I feel like it has given me a community of people that I can reach out to an influence and it is a pretty special thing to be able to do. I am put in a place where I can make an impact on people’s lives, just by doing something I absolutely love. I think that has been my favourite part of this journey since the moment it started.
Who was the last person, or what was the last thing, to really inspire you?
I think the last person to inspire me was a past relationship that I was in. It was with someone where the relationship seemed there was a lot of dead ends, as they said. It wasn’t exactly a great situation, but it gave me a lot of writing ammo, so I’ll take it.
What emotions do you hope to evoke from your fans when they hear the album?
Everyone takes what they want from the song. I know with certain songs I have written, they have been about losing a family member, but to someone else, they could be translated as a relationship problem. When someone hears a song, whatever they are going through, that is what they are going to relate it to. I really don’t want to tell them specifically what they are supposed to feel or what each song is about. I just hope that people hear the songs and it means something to them in some way and when they listen to it, that there is a sense of familiarity there and that it can help them in some way.
What excites you the most about creating music in the industry in 2015?
It is an interesting time for the music industry. We are transitioning a lot, now especially with Apple music and such. It is an interesting time to be in the music industry and to be making music. I don’t know if the word exciting is the right word, or terrifying (laughs), but I’m just interested in seeing how the industry evolves and how people receive music in the next few years. It has become a lot harder for musicians to sustain themselves and a career, so it will be an interesting thing to see.
What are your goals for 2016?
I would love to get in the studio, write more, tour. I have an app coming out, so that’ll be a new adventure for me. Social media is a big part of my career, so I think that will be fun for me to put some attention on.
Do you have any final thoughts?
Just a giant Thank You. The fact that I have been able to make three albums in my career is an outstanding thing. A lot of people don’t get to do that. The life-span of a musician is fairly short-lived in the pop world. I feel honoured there have been people that stood by me,supported me, allowed me to have a career and allowed me to focus on what I love and to do this. It is amazing and I am really appreciative of it.
+ Debbie Fettback