Starting out as a keyboardist for the symphonic metal band Winds of Plague was only the beginning of the musical journey for dark-pop artist Alaena. Sometimes you have to strike out on your own and forge a path of sonic discovery. Her musical influences are as eclectic as her style of pop music, ranging from acts like Cradle of Filth to Britney Spears and Destiny’s Child.
This is Alaena’s vision. It’s edgy. It’s catchy. It’s something that is completely her aesthetic with a touch that only she could bring. With these lyrics and visuals, there’s a bravery to them as she explores her feelings and emotions. So many genres of music have molded together and although there’s a grunge pop flavor to Alaena’s music, there’s a myriad of connections that she seeks to make with fans.
With her new EP Un-Guilty Pleasures on the horizon, we caught up with Alaena to speak about her recent single, “Paranoid,” the personal struggles and an accomplishes she’s gained while formulating these songs, and what’s ahead in the future.
I saw one of your tweets that stood out to me recently concerning how open your music is and how people would view it. Your family, in particular. I feel like making songs is almost taking a big leap, especially if you are expressing emotions that people weren’t necessarily aware of. Can you go into some of your fears with these songs put out? Have you felt ultimately better putting these feelings in a creative experience? Was your family accepting?
It took me years to finally be able to speak about my feelings because I solely was afraid of how my family would view me. I would lie and say songs were about movies or other people but deep down they were about myself. Even then, I didn’t want to believe it was about myself so getting the real honest lyrics out of me weren’t as true as they could be.
With “Paranoid” and “Californihate” I really started to open that part of me to the world. I have always been fearless when it comes to meshing the genres and to bring in all my different influences to create a very interesting track but lately, I feel a much bigger connection to my music because it is unafraid lyrically.
“Paranoid” is a life-changing song for me in a sense that, my family now knows how my brain works, with some rough moments at first, but now is very encouraging and understands. This led to me speaking more to my therapist and getting down to the root of my feelings to better assist myself. I highly encourage anyone who is afraid or feel alone to speak out to someone, because that one step will bring you to the next step and next thing you know you will be at the top, with complete control of yourself.
I loop this into your recent single “Paranoid.” because I feel like that’s one of the songs you are referring to. How has the response been, especially from fans that might emphasize with the mental health aspect? I feel like it really defines your aesthetic musically as being a hybrid between pop and grunge.
Thank you, I completely agree that this song really connected the dots between pop and grunge. I am honestly so surprised by how many people have reached out to tell me that they experience similar things after reading some of my interviews. It’s quite a relief. I am also feeling really honored to be able to speak about the topic of paranoia related to anxiety and have fans connect to my words. I am always one to try and help my fans as much as I can when they are going through a tough time because they have helped me so much.
What are some of your coping mechanisms besides being creative?
I love yoga, and hiking was a big coping mechanism for me for years; I am really trying to get back into it as much as I used to. I also feel so much less tension after a good long talk with my best friends.
Music genres, especially, in this recent climate has been melding together. Pop and electronic, hip hop and country, just to name a few. Coming from your metal background in Winds of Plague, I like how you can incorporate that edge into the pop realm. How important is it for you to combine all your influences into something unique?
Extremely. I am absolutely a believer that to get something raw and unique you have to put yourself into your music. “Myself” just so happens to be a mixture of metal and pop, and that’s where I feel the most comfortable writing my music. I have tried working with producers who were too pop, too rock and nothing 100% fit who I really am. You can’t teach someone to be fake and have it come off authentic. If you are unafraid of expressing yourself in the truest form, then in my eyes the sky is the limit.
In pop music, there are a lot more artists now that are pushing the boundaries of what it can be and appear to me. Especially on how females are viewed and what the consensus on what “pop music is.” “I Get My Way” feels like a declaration for you in many aspects. Not just musically, but in life in general. How did it feel for you to take charge to say, this is me and I’m going to push through all these bad things anyway? I would imagine it’s both great for you and fans.
“I Get My Way” really made me feel like such a bad ass. I was on the verge of exiting a shitty relationship because he just did not know how to treat me right. Writing this song was so empowering because it was exactly what needed to happen in my relationship or else it was over. The vibe of the song really opened up a whole realm to where I was taking my music with the pop-grunge style. It gave myself that bit of power and confidence to say hey, I can speak up and say what I want, how I want to and if you don’t like it then bye, which ultimately pulled over into becoming more honest with my latest music because I finally felt the confidence to be able to do so.
Along with going solo, you’ve been producing your own music. You’ve also signed with a licensing company that is involved with TV and film syncs. How does it feel to have control of your own path and have you thought of combing the words of music and movies? Perhaps a short film to go along with a song and things of that nature.
Yes! I had signed non-exclusively with Little Assembly for licensing and syncs as well as becoming a part of AWAL- which my next release will be through them!
Funny you mention the short film because I actually filmed a short film for 3 months for the Unguility Pleasures EP. My computer crashed and I lost all the footage. I’m really sad. So maybe let’s not talk about it, lol. But I would be totally down to do it again, in the future!
How far along are you with your upcoming EP -‘Un-Guilty Pleasures‘ and besides the songs we’ve received, what could fans expect?
The EP keeps changing as I keep evolving. I want to put out a body of work so badly but I want my fan base to be at a certain level before I let out something so sentimental to me. We are getting there and it’s moving quicker with every release!! Ultimately there will be 5 new songs, music videos and stories to tell. I can’t wait to be able to release a body of work!