by Jake Navarro
Hip Hop is definitely on the rise on the Austin music scene, but that's no what, singer-songwriter, Alesia Lani is too worried about. Her passion is focused around R&B and female representation in the genre. Alesia strives to make a difference not only amongst the ATX market, but as a whole.
"R&B IS NOT DEAD," Alesia shouts into the voice recorder as we start talking about her music and writing styles.
The R&B songstress invited MyCityATX into the sacred recording grounds where she's crafted her first album, First Impression. With the microphone, computer and mixing tools just a few feet away, we got to chatting about starting out in music, her latest effort, First Impression, and everything else in between.
As I begin to get comfortable, I look around and see a wall full of the posters she's collected over time from the shows she's performed at. I have to ask where she "began."
"It's funny. You see that poster over there," she asks as she points to the one entitled, Tipping Point, "That was one of my first shows. I actually met Gift there. It was a competition. It ended up being a tie between Gift and another artist. I was the only female solo act! I felt like I didn't have a chance! [laughs]"
After thinking for a second, Alesia recalls her childhood involving music and remembers always loving writing as a child--the older she got, the more music she wrote.
"I was always the girl that was ran and talked over. I could be in the middle of a sentence and get interrupted so easily. The moment I opened my mouth to sing, though, people shut up. People actually gave me a chance to be human. That's what really got me into singing. I was so shy, but I had to get over that because people started listening."
Alesia is the type of person that is willing to not only try anything, but has to be good at it, too. She showcases that quality perfectly in her songwriting. She weighs in on the process.
"It definitely helps to have a musical background, but [writing] is a craft. You not only have to have skill, but be able to put the work and hours into it, as well. I used to listen to my favorite singers and breakdown everything they did from their format of writing music to ways they released music and their videos."
The "Sunshine" singer goes on the explain how creating a good portion of the project on her own affected her way of crafting her first LP.
"This was the first time I ever created an album. I had no clue where to start. I was thinking, "I'm just going to put some stuff together and sing these songs." I was constantly writing, recording and creating material that I knew was album potential. I knew what felt good and couldn't let go. I had no direction on this album, and that's why it I titled it First Impression."
As producers started sending Lani beats and tracks, she found that her writing process started to change. Instead of being able to pull lyrics out of a notebook and create beats based off of the melodies she created, she started working backwards because she loved the tracks that were being sent her way. She elaborates on a track that was produced in a less traditional R&B format.
""Lost Endeavor" was a lot harder to write. The beat is so theatrical. I knew as soon as I heard it that I needed to have it included on the album. I had to make a great song to it," she explains.
Hard work is something that Alesia expects to face, especially with being a female in this male-dominated industry.
"It doesn't mean anything if everything is handed to you. You're easily going to lose it, because you didn't work for it. My manager loves me because I have nothing attached to me. I have earned everything on my own."
Lani beams with pride as she goes on the tell me she was the only solo R&B artist to perform at the Austin Chronicle Cook Out this past June. Alesia Lani is proof that hard work pays off.
This talented songstress takes the genre to a whole other level, especially in Austin. She has the voice, stage presence and perseverance that a true artist needs to succeed--definitely a force to be reckoned with.
As the conversation comes to a close, Alesia thanks MyCityATX for taking the time to sit down for the interview.
"[Bloggers and journalists] keep us going! When I can't promote or show some love, y'all take time out of your day to do what you do. You guys are the ones that promote and listen to us. I'm very grateful for y'all."