music morsels indie music March 2007



MUSICAL GENRE: Pop singer/songwriter w/jazz, soul; and R&B influences
CURRENT RESIDENCE: Hastings-On-The-Hudson, NY

MM: What was your musical background?

AY: My earliest memories of being a little kid was that I was writing songs. I wrote my first song when I was five years old, and it was kind of a natural, instinctive thing, and a way to express myself.  I also grew up performing in off-Broadway shows as a kid so starting at about eleven years old, I was singing on stage. I spent plenty of time listening to other people's music, and when I went to college, I formed a band doing primarily cover tunes. I left college in North Carolina after only two and a half years, and went back to New York, and that is when I started performing and writing original material. I didn't have any formal training in music so I was kind of shy and insecure about doing my music. I used to go to musicians and tell them that I didn't know how to express what was going on in my head. I found this percussionist performing in a little club who I had the idea of laying down a beat for me, and then I could say what was in my head. That is how I started out with a djembe player in these little cafes in Manhattan.

MM: Did you look at forming a full band as well?

ALYSSA: I started out by singing with the percussionist and I do some rapping as well. Soon other musicians started coming up and wanted to jam with us. That is when the ideas in my head began to become songs. They became actual songs with parts and structure, and I started developing more specific ideas for them. I've always been very interested in upright bass and hand percussion from all over the world. So I try to incorporate those into the music, as well as acoustic guitar, and a Rhodes style piano, whose sound I am really getting into using on some songs. I was also keeping a lyric book with me so I could write down what was in my head, and then work them into song structures. 

MM: Did some of these people who joined you to jam on stage start working full time with your performing and recording projects?

ALYSSA: I am still in touch with the percussionist to this day and we have done some recording together. But I also know a lot of other players who play certain instruments who if I need them for a particular sound, I can get ahold of them to do it.

MM: You started doing this in 1996. Was it still more of a casual thing at the time, and when did you decide to take it more seriously and become a professional singer/songwriter?

ALYSSA: Basically I have always wanted to be a professional singer/songwriter. I did definitely start out casually and I had a lot going on in my life. I had a fight with Crohn's Disease so I was in and out of the hospital. Actually most of the lyrics were written while I was in the hospital and then when I would get out, I would go to the clubs and perform those songs because I didn't know how long I would have before I had to go back in for more treatment. I dealt with this disease for about ten years, and I wound up beating it holistically after they had pretty much pronounced me dead. Most of the music I am writing now, especially on my upcoming second album, was written in the hospital when I was going through all of that.

MM: Do you feel that you wanting to do music had something to do with your holistic cure?

ALYSSA: I've always felt that, not just with the disease, but in my whole life. I came from not a great home and home was not a real safe place for me. So even as a kid, I took a lot of comfort from music. It was my security blanket because musicians can hopefully say what people often can't and give people a voice.

MM: When were you able to really work on music full time?

ALYSSA: It was about 2001 when I finished recording my EP. I was out in California and had put a band together, and, to tell you the truth, I was still dealing with issues concerning my health. But I put a band together and started playing in clubs around L.A.. Eventually, I went back the New York and started performing around there. I've also been doing some acting in theater and for television, and was doing stand up comedy, too. I've been in the entertainment business trying to express myself with different mediums.

MM: What else have you been doing to get your music out there?

ALYSSA: I have been using the internet quite a bit. It really seems to be working good, because I have had several thousands of my songs bought through web sites, and my web site count has several hundred thousand hits on it, so people are managing to find my music there. Of course, I have been playing out as much as I can, and right now, I am focusing on recording more music and putting that up on my web site as well. I have a great group of people working with me, a great attorney and publicist working with me. My main focus right now though is recording the new music for the second album. I am working with many of the musicians that I have known for a very long time.

MM: What kind of feedback do you get from your fans as to what they like the best about your music?

ALYSSA: I know some people have said they feel like the music has a lot going on in it. Every time they listen to it, they hear something new that they didn't hear before. I have heard that it is funky and different, that there is a lot of love put into it. I have heard that it is modern day Nina Simone or Sarah Vaughan meets Nick Drake. Erika Badu meets Paul Simon...I have heard many real lovely things that people have said about it.

MM: What is your definition of success and what do you feel you have to do to achieve that success with your music career?

ALYSSA: I would like to see the second album go to the Grammys. I would really like to get my music out there to the entire world. I think that the way to do this is to be completely honest with what I am hearing in my heart and mind. Getting the reins on it and steering it in that direction and building a great team of people around me. I absolutely believe I can do it and what else do we have to do here but make our dreams come true? Our nature is to experience ourselves to the fullest. Walking down the streets of Manhattan, I saw this blade of grass growing through the concrete, and I thought, man, that blade really needed to experience itself busting through like that. That is very metaphorical for me so it makes me think that everything is achievable.

Division of Serge Entertainment Group