The following is an email interview I did with the singer Alyssa Jacey (www.AlyssaJacey.com
). She is a bright, talented singer/songwriter/dancer who is both entertaining and energetic. Don't take it from me try listening to her music for yourself if you are so inclined.
She will be making a big move in her career by moving to Nashville Tennessee in the coming month in order to move forward. She felt her career had stalled in California and thus she has decided to make the move. I am sure we all wish her well in her future endeavors and I for one hope to see her soon both live and on my television.
A little background in my interaction with Alyssa if you will allow me to do so. We met online via MySpace we would email back and forth about various things, her career, her music, my life and various other things. I found her to be both insightful, friendly and very loyal to the people she interacts with that treat her nicely. After all everyone at times doesn't always get along with everyone every minute of the day.
What inspired you to become a singer?
* I was actually forced into it initially! I had zero intentions of singing, ever, in my life. I had every intention of "making it" as a professional hip-hop dancer. So really, all it took was my friends and co-workers hearing me singing to myself enough times before they finally forced me onto a karaoke stage one night back in 2004. That's how I was introduced to singing and I was literally hooked immediately.
How much of your personal life can be found in the lyrics to your
*Oh boy, I'm nervous answering this question! Pretty much 100%...in most songs. There are a few songs I made up like "Dear Life," "Beautiful Night," and a couple others that have nothing to do with me or my life. Then there are songs like "Walk Beside Me" I wrote specifically for someone (in that case, for my brother and his now wife) based on what I knew about their relationship. Songs like "Here's To Change," the title track from my 2010 record and a brand new song called "Start The Healing" (coming out on the new 2012 album) which both have around 4 different meanings to me. Lastly, there are songs like "Feel Like This," and pretty much the majority of every other song I've written that were never changed from the moment I wrote them because I was so impacted and inspired by whatever was happening, that changing or adjusting it would take the emotion out of it, or at least to me it would have.
What makes your music different from the thousands of other artists
* I write the music and lyrics at the exact same time. About 95% or more of the people that I know, as well as so many others who you read about, say they write one first and then the other. I'm not saying one way is better or worse, right or wrong, just "different." I also rarely edit my songs. Piggy backing on what I said above, I only write when I'm inspired: Rarely have I ever tried to force a song out. So whatever song you're listening to was most likely written during or after some event that inspired me to write. That's why almost every song of mine was written in a 5-10 (sometimes stretched to 20) minute time frame. I get so fired up and into the songwriting process that they end up flowing out of me so quickly and virtually effortlessly. There are a few which I've struggled with and even less that I've gone back to edit (changed a lyric here or a chord there) but again, those are extremely few and far between. My music is also very honest. I try hard to write objectively and never make things appear better or worse than what they actually are. I guess that goes along with why I don't change much, if anything, after a song's written, because that's exactly what I was feeling at that moment. Also, while I have co-written, it hasn't been my main gig so I write all the music and lyrics to each and every one of my songs. I don't have a music background like many other singer/songwriters in my genre(s) do, so in earlier years, I'd write songs that jumped keys all over the place! That kind of set me apart from the start because I hadn't a clue how to write a song so I'd just throw in as many chords as I knew at the time on guitar, rearrange their orders and out would come songs like "Love and Hate," "Integrity" or "Relaxation Lane." To date, I'm at about 250 some odd original songs since I started writing in 2004. That also makes me a little different than the average bear because I've only been in the game 8 years and from what I'm told, that's a lot of material to have under my belt in comparison to others in an 8 year time span. Lastly, I am lucky to be able to step into as many genres as I have, especially last year and even more so, especially through my 2010 release 'Here's To Change' and this year's upcoming album 'On The Spot.' My music is a mixture of so many genres: Pop, soul, acoustic, full band, country, tiny bits of jazz or blues, tiny bits of pop/rock, folk, folk-rock, indie. In 2011 I sang with both a rapper (opening for Twista in Indiana which I also choreographed for and danced in) and 2 reggae bands (PEPPER and Bob Marley's The Wailers), opened for Keith Anderson on tour this past October who's an International country artist and over the course of my career playing shows with other female singer/songwriters including Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin, Joan Osborne and Sophie B. Hawkins. There are not too many indie artists who can cross over like I have and I'm pretty darn proud of that!
What do you want people who listen to your music to come away with?
* I guess this goes back to the honesty thing. I am brutally honest in my music and I tell it like it is. I don't try to hide anything, I just write what I'm feeling, even if it's super black and white. An example would be the first line of "The Wrong Mistake" from the upcoming album: "On my way to work, and I'm breaking up with you." I mean, it doesn't get any more black and white than that. A lot of my lyrics are that way and because of that story-telling writing style, I've often been compared to both Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez. Two of the most amazingly gifted female singer/songwriters of their time and genre, so it blows me away that I'm getting compared to such incredible talents!
You have been doing a mini-tour the last few months what if anything
did you, experience and/or learn from this tour.
*If this tour was "mini" then I will probably collapse when I do something on a "medium" to "large" scale! What I mean is I performed 35 times in 1 month and 3 weeks on the road. Six states and a handful of different cities and drove across the country to do so. That's not "mini" to me! It's always an adventure when booking yourself shows, much less a national tour. I always learn multiple things on the road like for example, where to play again and what venues to avoid. What to ask for in terms of payment and which shows to do for free. There are countless things to learn and experience which is why I love recording, playing and touring so much!
How has your experiences using the internet media aided your career?
*I'm not sure I'd have much of one, had it not been for the Internet. It all started with Myspace. A lot of venues found me on there. Then I joined Reverbnation back in 2008 and that helped a ton too. Sending out newsletters is a great way to keep in touch with fans and posting videos on YouTube is a great way to spread your music around to fans as well as club bookers and other musicians. The Internet has had a major impact on my career in a great way!
Have you ever done any charity type concerts? If so what were they and
if not would you if asked?
*I've been playing charity concerts since my first year in the biz. I have done the cancer walk for Relay for Life about three or 4 times, I did a yearly benefit concert 4 years in a row for Flight 93 and the victims of 911. I've been asked to perform to aide in helping celebrate the lives of lost ones, people I've never even met before, so I did a few of those too and other cancer benefits as well as a charity concert for a fraternity from the college I graduated from (Cal State University San Marcos). I have rarely turned down performing for charity or benefit concerts and when I have, it's been because I've been out of town or had another gig. I REALLY want to get involved with the Alzheimer's Association. I lost my Grandma ("Grammy") back in February of 2005 to Alzheimer's Disease so she never got to see me perform. So that's something I plan on making happen this year.
What tips can you give future artists who might want to learn from
*I LOVE THIS QUESTION. Thank you for asking it! My main tip is this: DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. Don't give up! I don't care if you are having a slow streak of weak album sales, if you can't seem to find the magic recipe for getting people to come see you play (there isn't one, by the way), if you aren't even that great of a singer or can't play an instrument...I WENT THROUGH ALL OF THAT. I didn't give up. I was told a handful of times that I wasn't a good singer, that I'll never make it in the industry because it's too hard and everyone else out there is doing the same thing and they're 100% better than me. I didn't give up. I was told "no" by countless venues and I believed in myself so much that I wouldn't ever take "no" for an answer and turned every single "no" into a "yes" at SOME point. You must believe in yourself and you MUST have the tenacity to forge ahead when everyone and their mother is trying to stop you or break you down. There will be roadblocks, there will be haters, and there will be times when you might second-guess yourself but DO NOT GIVE UP. Self-promotion, no matter how other people may think you come off by talking about your music, was one of the top three reasons of why I am where I am today. Self-promotion, the Internet and NOT GIVING UP. Those three things (all equal in levels of importance) are what helped guide me in my career tremendously.
What will be the highlight of your career from 2011?
*Highlight? HighLIGHTS! Playing shows with amazing bands, writing some of my best material (the new album has a lot of my best material on it, "Down" was written in 2010 though but particularly "Gush" which was written in 2011), all 3 tours (Hawaii, GA/TN and Super Hero) but especially my Super Hero Tour, winning a FB contest and headlining at the Belly Up, headlining at the House of Blues and playing there 4 times in 6 months, tackling my first original playing/singing on the drums live on TV, finally getting to sing AND dance in the same show (Indiana) and the extreme honor it was to have been able to record the new album IN Nashville, with some of Nashville's most talented musicians/sweetest people!
What will be the headline for you a year from now?
*I haven't had the platform to share this with anyone yet so I'm glad we're doing this interview and I'm glad you asked this question. When I move to Nashville, I'm going to take a backseat with regards to my singing career. "Alyssa Jacey" will still perform here and there but I have two new main focuses, which are a) Songwriting: Selling songs to artists who have already "made it," and b) Pushing my music to television and film. 80% of my time will be dedicated to those two things, 15% to performing as I've been the last 8 years and 5% will go to teaching hip-hop on the side.
It's rather well known that you're as steadfast loyal to your fans
as many are you. Why do you so fervently believe this is important for
both you and your fans?
*Fans are as important as the songwriting itself. Without one, there would be no other. Without fans, there wouldn't be shows. Without shows, there's no career. A lot of the foundation my career is built on, is FROM having fans. Family who believed in me and fans. They help remind me that making music my full time career was the right choice. When this ever gets lost or forgotten, like you see/hear some artists go though, to me that's a clear indicator that those they have lost their love for what they do. That's when it's time to throw in the towel. I will never forget who's supported me from the second I started singing until I sing my last note. I am forever grateful for my family and fans.