The minute I heard a l l i e’s rich and gorgeous voice I knew she was an artist I had to see at this year’s NXNE. The Toronto based singer-songwriter has an electro-soul sound that seems destined to reach beyond our borders. Her debut album is slated for release sometime this year and if it’s anything like the music she’s put out thus far, I can guarantee that it will become one of my favourites of 2015.
I caught up with a l l i e for a quick Winehouse chat about Toronto’s unique vibe, learning to be vulnerable as an artist, and the legendary Led Zeppelin. Check out our interview and make sure that you check out her show later tonight! (Click on ‘Showtimes’ above for details). Chaka V.
TWM: Lately, Toronto artists have been garnering greater attention in the international music scene. Do you think we have a unique sound here in Toronto? If so, why is that? And do you feel that your sound is particularly Torontonian?
A: Yeah, there’s definitely a spotlight on Toronto right now which is incredible. This city is so unique and so culturally diverse and I think the music coming out of here reflects that diversity. It also has a lot to do with the weather. There’s this dark, moody element in a lot of the music here and some of that moodiness comes from spending the better part of the year in a deep freeze. I think as artists we kind of revel in it though. Winter is grind time, and then in the summer we play real hard.
TWM: Otis Redding and Etta James are two legendary influences on your music. What is it about these two artists that inspires you so deeply? And how can their influences be seen in how you approach music?
A: They were just so raw and open and vulnerable. All their emotions, all their sadness, all their joy — they let it all hang out. As a vocalist you’re so exposed, there’s nothing to hide behind. It can be really scary. But artists like them taught me to just feel it. Let your voice do it’s thing, let it crack if it wants to. Having a voice with character is so much more important than having perfect technique.
TWM: Who are your contemporary influences? And who would you love to collaborate with?
A: I love Little Dragon. Love Frank Ocean. So many artists I want to work with, but I’d love to collab with Shlohmo one day.
TWM: If I looked through your iPod what artist or song would I be surprised to discover?
A: Hmmm, maybe Led Zeppelin? Houses of the Holy is one of my favourite albums.
TWM: Dream gig?
A: I’d love to play a big international festival like SXSW or Coachella.
TWM: Worst gig?
A: I’ve been pretty lucky so far, but any gig with crappy sound is kinda the worst.
TWM: Can we expect an album or EP out soon?
A: I’m currently working on my first full length album. I’ve got a few new singles coming out real soon though.
TWM: What kind of party and/or vibe will you be bringing to NXNE 2015?
A: I’ll be bringing some chill vibes to the stage, but Birthday Boy is joining me for this one so I think we might have to turn up a bit!