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INTERVIEW W/ ALESSANA: "I plan on documenting my entire life through music and art"!

The first thing to note about London songwriter ALESSANA is that she is far from just a musician. Her artistic flair spreads across a myriad of disciplines and her skills within art, poetry and filmmaking flow into her music adding a lyrical richness, thematic variety and vibrant arrangement to her releases.

Her new EP 'Chapter 1:Money Plant' is a wonderfully layered four-track collection that showcases the broadness of her talent. Soulful Indie grooves convey her swagger and infectious personality while the varied lyrics explore a wide range of narratives and emotions. All the while, the flavoursome instrumentation that combines hints of Jazz, Soul, R&B, Reggae and Indie, never lets the sound stagnate. We spoke with ALESSANA about the new EP and her musical aspirations.

Q. You pride yourself on your songwriting and storytelling abilities, what would you say inspires your lyricism the most - your personal life, other art forms etc?

A. "The little details of everyday life, random encounters and things people say to me, internal thoughts and observations. I think quite visually so when I write I try to paint the picture of what’s in my head."

Q. What would you say are the main lyrical themes on the 'Chapter 1:Money Plant' EP and can you explain your decision to name the EP that?

A. "The themes are of a young woman’s experiences in London of being broke, heartbroken and living on the margins of society. The songs weave together to tell a story. This is why I called in ‘Chapter 1: Money Plant’ because the songwriting journey of the EP started when I moved into my new flat and my friend bought me a money plant to bring me money (but the money plant died, hence the song).

I plan on documenting my entire life through music and art. By the time I’m 100 hopefully by then I’ll have made it to Chapter 100. I’ve named it ‘Chapter 1: Money Plant’ chronologically and thematically to reflect what’s gone on in those chronicles so people can distinguish the bodies of work more easily."

Q. What is your favourite track, lyrically on the EP and which is your favourite track, musically and why?

A. "Lyrically - ‘Money Plant’ because of all the tiny little details that were on my mind when I sat on a park bench in Hyde Park and wrote it e.g sick of my savings jar being filled up with starburst sweets / sick of going out on Tinder for something nice to eat / sick of dodging wedding invites / sick of Poundland lipstick etc...And also because it’s quite funny now I look back on it, but at the time it was those little things that I was the most sick of, I’d had enough and became paranoid that this Money Plant was a bad omen! In the end, threw the dead plant away and turned the pot into a fruit bowl.

Musically - 'Magic Man’ - I love performing this with the band - each musician brings their own artistry to the song and it chimes together really well - relaxed, sultry and easy listening."

Q. You spent time working in Portobello Road, can you tell us about this experience? And how much do you feel the setting/environment an art-piece is conceived in plays a part in how it turns out?

A. "Quite a lot because I wrote it at a time when I was in the thick of it. For example London’s Burning is all about my walk home to the abandoned pub I was living in at the time which had previously been lived in by the local squatter group. Before I got kicked out of that pub, I threw a massive show with a cast iron steel bathtub full of mud on the bar (to perform another song “Dirty Bathwater” and the whole of Ladbroke Grove turned up. London’s Burning is almost like a riot song about being pushed out of London because of luxury flats and high rent."

Q. Alongside music, you are a keen artist and filmmaker - how did you approach directing your own music video?

A. "My songs are often conceptual and use metaphors and symbolism - for example Dirty Bathwater was an ode to exes I want to scrub off my skin. Ragdoll of Portobello Road was about me building up as I walk down Portobello through all the gifts and kind words of encouragement the community said to me. Magic Man is about a man disappearing etc. So that makes it easier when planning out the video to come up with the concept to match it. I’ll sketch out the different scenes and breakdown using my streetcasting experience to get good faces I want in them too."

Q. Do you feel that your interest in other art forms enhances your creativity when it comes to music? How do you feel these art forms cross over?

A. "Yes definitely. The reason I chose to focus on music as my main discipline is because it allows me to bind all my art forms together: my love for creative writing I get to use in my songs, my love for art I use in designing the album covers and painting “lyric paintings” inspired by the lyrics, directing the music videos brings in this passion, and street casting the faces for them is another element of creativity from my career disciplines. Then I get to turn my art and photography into products through merchandise and be quite playful with it.

Then with the band, I will take a new song idea to our rehearsal and they will bring it to life within a couple of minutes and then they each add their own creativity to it. It’s a proper wonderful buzz."

Q. What kind of experience do you want fans to have at your live shows?

A. "To feel something - feel free, to laugh, dance or cry or whatever they want to do that makes them feel good. The moment I stopped being stage fright was when I realised music is a gift to give others and also that it can heal."

Q. What are your aspirations for the rest of 2024?

A. "For us to record our next EP which is lined up and ready to go, to write and perform more with the band, to direct more music videos and to build up a special community around the world through YouTube and TikTok."


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