Alessia Cara is the resurgent voice of Pop. The Grammy-winning singer and songwriter was raised in an Italian household in the midst of Canada’s bustling cultural mosaic. “I grew up around a ton of different cultures and different people which really helped me form a greater understanding of the world,” she tells Schön! Her effervescent and tenaciously bold lyrics are a mirror of her personality. “For me, growing up in a rather sheltered home, I always felt like I wanted more out of my life. That was a huge driving force for me. Feeling like I didn’t have the room to say or do certain things really sparked that ambition in me to do as much as I could with my life,” she explains.
The 25-year-old singer and songwriter has distinct soul-baring ballads reminiscent of artists like Amy Winehouse and Remi Wolf and much of her artistry models the honest vulnerability of artists she grew up listening to like Lauryn Hill, and Joni Mitchell. Alessia’s journey into music started at the young age of 14 when she began posting videos of herself to YouTube. “It wasn’t until I was 16 that I had my first studio session. This really changed everything for me,” she says. Today, she boasts a Grammy award for Best New Artist and numerous chart-topping singles including: Stay and Scars to Your Beautiful.
Looking beyond her undeniable talents, the songstress is raising the bar on how we talk about mental health, healing, and our wildly confusing twenty-something years. Alessia’s latest album, In the Meantime, is a delectable ode to the tribulations of navigating your twenties. She confesses that this chapter of her life has been “very tumultuous and very confusing. There have been a lot of great moments and a lot of teaching moments too.” The songs on the album are what the artist herself considers to be some of her best work. Shapeshifter, she says, ranks among her favorites from the entire collection “because the making of it is super dear to my heart. I got to work in the studio where Amy Winehouse wrote pretty much all of her music. She is my biggest idol and it felt like the biggest victory for me.”
The studio album has pre-pandemic roots. “I wrote the first song for the album unknowingly when I was on tour in 2019. The creative process for this album, from the beginning to the middle and end was very different in terms of what the world looked like and what my life personally looked like.” For many artists, restrictions truly altered the creative process and Alessia is no exception. “I started on tour, being all over the place, travelling, and in the middle of it the whole world had changed. As a result, the entire album creation process had to completely change too. I had to rely a lot on myself and my own production skills. I did a lot more with local Canadian producers. In fact, a lot of the vocals on the album were done in my bedroom.”
Whilst the pandemic forced her to strengthen her creative muscle, Alessia recalls why she ventured into music in the first place. “I am not very good at articulating emotions, whether it’s speaking or thinking, and the best way for me to understand myself is getting it out in the form of a song. It starts out selfishly but the reason I’ve released my music, and the reason why I continue to, is because I realise that’s the purpose it serves for other people my age.” Alessia adds that “the beauty of songwriting is being able to take a really specific emotion and give it a purpose or allow the listener to feel like it’s about them too. There is power in that and it connects people.”
Moving past the album release, Alessia reveals that she is not ready to let go of these songs just yet. “I can’t wait to play this album live and see what the songs sound like in a live setting.” Determined to be more fluid and consistent with her music, Alessia confesses that collaborations with artists like Anderson. Paak and Remy Wolf are on her wish list this year. “I’ll keep saying it until it happens.”
Check out Alessia Cara’s latest album In the Meantime now.
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