Songstress Alii Talks New Single "Never," Houston Upbringing, Japan, & More
Houston-based singer/songwriter Alii is a rising artist to watch. She recently released singles from her solo project “Away,” one being her single "Never," which you can hear below.
Alii has had a passion for singing from a young age. She was introduced to choir during her school years & continued into her college years. In pursuit of her dream to become a professional in the music industry, Alii took a meeting in a historic recording studio in her hometown, Houston, where her passion began to transform into her profession!
She recently talked to The Urban Influencer about Also, listen to her interview on our podcast HERE.
Get to know Alii!
Did growing up in Houston and Beyonce coming from the city influence your sound? How so (or not so)?
I believe that individuals are a sum of their surroundings. That being said, Houston shaped my musical influences in so much as what I was exposed to growing up. I typically relate it back to car rides on the way to school. Riding in the car with my mom involved Cici Winans/ Mary Mary/ Jaci Velasquez. My eldest brother driving meant that Kanye/Paul Wall/Slim Thug/ Z-Ro/ Eminem was playing. If my sister is at the wheel we were jamming India.Arie/Destiny’s Child (enter Beyonce)/Michael Jackson. Being exposed to such a myriad of genres I could pick and choose melodies and passively digest the subjects touched along the way by each artist.
Who are your musical influences?
I personally find a deep-rooted connection to Jazz, my heart beats to jazz. There’s movement and inconsistency that places me in a trance. Ella Fitzgerald is my top go-to influence, her voice mimics a horn and I’m in constant awe of that. Amy Winehouse got me when I was back in high-school. You couldn’t pay me to stop listening to her ‘Frank’ album. I even listened to it with my parents and apologized before I pressed
play informing them that I wasn’t sure what bad words were in the songs. I then proceeded to sing along despite the side eye.
How would you describe your sound?
I know this is a cliché answer but I truly ask for you to hear even just a moment of my song. I believe my voice has its jazzy, dark and heavy tones while still allowing for a light and aria essence as well. This is as a result of my favorite singers and their melodic tendencies as well as taking voice lessons, focused on classical training.
Tell us about your single “Never.”
This is the most upbeat song that I wrote for the project. It steps away from the slow to mid-tempo vibe and allows you to shake out those insecurities. ‘Never’ has grown to be more of an anthem to me actually. It’s not glorifying the feeling of not fitting in and struggling to find your direction. Instead, I hope the listener hears ‘Never’ as a highlighter to a few feelings that can be elicited when you venture, not only “out on the town” but, just in their daily walk. Finding the comfort in the uncomfortable.
What's your creative process as a songwriter?
My first love was poetry so when I first began writing music they were all poems. Working with different ‘creatives’ along the way I was able to reshape and reformat the way I approached the “process”. Now I like everything from being alone in a dimly lit room to working with a full band and just jamming/vibing/grooving it out.
Tell us about your tour in Japan.
I loved my trip to Japan! It was my first time leaving the country and having culture shock. My father was the one who brought the audition to my attention via a Facebook post that he’d seen. He asked me one day if I wanted to go to Japan. Without really questioning it I said, “yes.” The auditions were held in Las Vegas so we sent in my resume and a video, bought two tickets and a few weeks later I was sharing the stage with some of the most amazing and awe-inspiring live performers that I’ve ever met. The contract to perform for a prestigious nightclub in Kyoto, Selected Repos, was originally for 6 weeks, and when an opportunity to double the length of the trip arose I jumped at it. The schedule was intense; six nights a week with four sets a night. Not to mention it was my first time working with a professional band. Among other amazing lessons, sharing the stage with them helped me to mature to be the stage performer I am today!
What's next for Alii? (shows, albums, EP, etc.)
I have a few shows that I’m looking forward to actually! On December 16th I’ll be performing ‘Never’ in Houston at Sheila Jackson Lee’s annual toy drive on December 16th. December 28th I’ll be visiting Georgia, at the Civic Center in Columbus. January 20, 2018, I’ll be performing in Jackson Mississippi at an event for WJMI. Other than that I‘m going to continue to create honest music.