Premiere: ALA.NI Takes Us Back in New Video for “Circle”

Premiere: ALA.NI Takes Us Back in New Video for “Circle”

The rising musician premieres her calming video and talks with V.

The rising musician premieres her calming video and talks with V.

Text: Jake Viswanath

Ask people what superpower they would inherit if it were possible, and one of the most common answers you’ll receive is the ability to travel back in time. The music of up-and-coming artist ALA.NI may get us closer to time-travel than ever, and that’s exactly what she intended. One listen to her debut album You & I evokes elements from multiple eras: the beautifully blunt lyricism of Joni Mitchell, the warm and smoky tones of Billie Holliday, and a distinctive voice that’s all her own.

But it’s no surprise that ALA.NI already has a sound so confident and nostalgic this early on in her career. Her great uncle, Leslie "Hutch" Hutchinson, was considered a cabaret great, and her inbred passion for music led her to sing backup for renowned vocalists like Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli. She knew her strengths from the get-go. Today, ALA.NI premieres the music video for “Circle,” the final track of You & I, exclusively on V, where she lets go of the reigns in more ways than one. She answered a few questions for V about the video, her maddening creative process, and why she just can’t live without music.

How did you get your start in music?

I attended performing arts school from the age of 5 until I was 16, so that really set me up for a life in the arts. I wanted to be a dancer until the age of 11 when I discovered that I could sing. Since then, it’s been a journey of learning different techniques and styles, growing in confidence, learning my craft, being a backing singer and finally arriving in a vocal zone that I feel defines me to me as me.

What made you want to pursue music as a career?

I can't live without my musical expressions. If I don’t naturally sing everyday, I know something is not right in my soul. It is the closest, most intimate connection I can feel. Sound vibrating through my own body, shifting my internal organs. What a delight! Today in London, I was cycling around town and singing "Santa Lucia" in full voice, just smiling and being happy.

You went to a prestigious performing arts school. How did it inform your identity as an artist? What did you learn from it?

Discipline! From a very young age, I was entered into an adult, professional working world, doing theatre work, adverts, films. I have no comparison of a "normal" school, so I have no choice but to be creative, artistic and expressive.

What inspires your distinctive sound?

It's based around the sound that I was trained to sing in at school, musical theatre and classical, sprinkled with all the varied music that I loved to listen as a youth, from Rage Against the Machine to Joni Mitchell to Vivaldi.

How would you describe it to new listeners?

I really don’t like to describe my own music, it’s not for me to categorize it. Music is subjective and needs to remain so. I make it, job done. When people ask me "what kind of music do you do", my answer is always “music!" Actually, more with a question mark, "music?" and a shrug of the shoulders. I really don't know.

Describe your creative process.

It’s like the Tasmanian devil on speed — all over the place. I don't have a real formula to the music I make. A song can start with the melody, the lyrics, a video concept, a poem. I am currently writing a song which I am very much procrastinating on. My research is to discreetly drop the subject matter into conversation and take mental notes, collecting data. Verses are always so much easier to write than choruses. You can be as abstract as you like in the verse, but the chorus has to bring it all together somehow.

What is the inspiration behind the song “Circle”?

Nature, and how everything must die to relive, like love and heartbreak. We can learn so much from a tree and the falling leaves.

Tell me about the video for “Circle”. What inspired it, how was it created?

This was the first video from the album that I worked with a director to produce, the rest of the videos I made myself, mostly on my iPad. I worked closely with Aelred Nils from the La Blogotheque team based in Paris. The inspiration was simply that I fell in love with a one thousand-year-old priory, situated in the South of France that a dear friend owns. I just had to film something there, sacred land. We actually stayed at the priory during shooting and had many memorable moments hanging by the pool and evenings spent watching the shooting stars in the night sky and crying.

Who/what are your musical inspirations?

I like to be as open to as many sources of music as I can be. It's my job to be unbiased. I resist favoritism.

Who are your dream collaborators?

They're all dead! But I'd love to do backing vocals for the Rolling Stones before they pop their clogs. "Gimme Shelter" would be such a treat to sing. Or to collaborate with Kendrick Lamar, that would be dreamy.

What is your mission statement as an artist?

To be true to you.

What/how much can we expect in the future?

As long as I am alive and kicking, I will endeavor to fill my life with music and share all I can with whoever wants to take the time to listen and digest my noises. Ha!

Credits: Photo: Landry

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