She traded upstate New York for the bright lights of Music City when she moved to Nashville 4 years ago in 2016 and in this time Alyssa Trahan is already becoming a stage warrior playing over a hundred shows a year where she has already opened up for the likes of Charlie Daniels, Jana Kramer, Josh Turner, Lee Greenwood, Lee Ann Womack, Midland and many more. We spent some time getting to know this adorable and dynamic songwriter, blissful vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and producer when we spoke to her during this interesting time that we have all been dealt.
Being from the UK, we understand right now that things are slightly different to what they are over on the other side of the pond. For any American’s reading this, it is safe to say we are moving a little bit slower but saying that we can leave our homes more than once a day where we are able to meet up with one other person that we don’t live with (providing we we remain at least two metres away from them) but it may be quite a while until we can join on mass to listen to live music or even unite in a pub to drink in. At the time of talking Alyssa enlightened me with the 411 of what’s happening over there:
So, we are kind of in phase one of reopening I guess? Bars and restaurants are opening up with half capacity but live music is still not allowed though so everything is slowly started to open back up. We have toilet paper again so that’s a good thing so starting to get back to the old normal.
Whilst toilet paper or “loo roll” hasn’t been in that much of a short supply over here (unlike flour, which is a different story as all of us Brits really want to learn how to impress Prue and Paul Hollywood to get on The Great British Bake Off) and we have all fully digested Tiger King on Netflix or been in awe of The Imagineering Story on Disney+ whilst working at home or the UK government’s furlough scheme, life as a musician in Nashville is not quite the same:
It’s definitely hard! A lot of what I do is live performances and obviously I can’t do really any of those and I know a lot of people are in the same boat so it’s definitely weird right now. I had a lot of live shows booked, a lot of mini tours I was doing and so far I’ve lost all of my shows until August. Pretty much all of March then April, May, June and July. There’s a couple I’m still to hear from but it’s almost like guaranteed that they are cancelled. So my initial plans were to tour a lot and play a lot of shows but I’ve kind of had to switch gears and focus more on studio work, writing and things like that that don’t involve me leaving my house.
We have all been living this for what seems like a decade but is actually approaching ten weeks now where our social highlights are Zoom calls with our work colleagues or mail from our family to break down the same four walls, but songwriting stems from experience and inspiration so as much fun as quality time with your dog or kitty must be, it can’t be as easy as drawing experiences from playing live and writing with people in the same room so ideas may not come as easily:
It does, I mean I’m used to writing at my own studio quite a bit but also used to going to other people’s places, other publishing companies and things like that which always helps with inspiration and different sounds. I’m used to co-writing a lot which I’ve had to cut back on, so it’s definitely tricky to stay inspired and keep up with the creative growth but I’ve been trying! Been trying to light candles and make it vibey, do what I can.
During this time Alyssa has not been shy from releasing new music with her latest release “My Favorite Song” on April 3rd which you can listen to HERE and is her second single of the year (where we are expecting a third some time next month) yet there is the quandary of whether a release strategy has been affected due to the pandemic:
It’s always been my plan to release a few singles in the first half of the year. We’re doing a bunch of singles and it’s going to lead towards an album at the end of the year hopefully, if COVID doesn’t push that back even further. I like releasing singles to give fans a taste of what’s coming for the project, which in the past I’ve done mostly EP’s but this year we decided a full album. It was time to do that!
The jump from New York state to Nashville at a young age is without question a journey and an experience, but what was it that brought her to music city and shaped that journey:
When I started creating my own original music, writing and recording it I didn’t really realise it was country until I was more exposed to country music and I was like this it what I’ve been writing, this is where I fit in. I just fell in love with there genre and once I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, I was studying a lot of artists that I loved and hearing their stories, how they made it and pretty much every single one said you have to be in Nashville! Then it was well, where’s this Nashville place? I found out more about it and when I was pretty young I asked my parents to take a vacation here which we did, I loved it from the first day and knew I wanted to live here. Then after that I started asking my dad if we could go on business trips where it wasn’t vacation but trying to get my foot in the door which we did for about a year and a half, two years where we would come down here every month and a half or so. Eventually about a thousand people told me, “Ok well you have to live in Nashville if you want to make it, you can’t do this commute”. I was like “I get that, you just have to convince my dad!” So finally we convinced him and I moved here in 2016, so ever since I came here on vacation that first time, my eyes have definitely been set on living here and it was always a goal.
Then on the change of scenery:
Nashville is much more of a melting pot and it’s definitely a growing city right now. Where I’m from: Rochester in New York isn’t either of those things, so it was cool to come here. I’ve met people from all around the world, tried foods from all around the world and it’s just like a completely different vibe compared to a city that isn’t doing it’s best to a city that is booming and everybody wants to come here right now, it’s kind of the cool place to be. So definitely a change!
and what she has loved most about the move:
Well one thing I love is the weather, I love that it’s warmer here as I’m definitely a summer person! I’ve discovered a lot of Vietnamese food that I love and Thai food that I love. There’s a lot more Mexican food here, there’s a lot more Greek food here and of course Hot Chicken, which I have discovered that I love Hot Chicken!
Recent times have brought to light how there is a disparity between exposure and recognition of female artists, which is a kettle of fish we have shook up many of times here at TC but firstly there is the ever growing question of why (extenuated when living over this side of the Atlantic) and then where does patriarchal consensus spawn? In recent times we have seen a pair of female artists (Gabby Barrett & Ingrid Andress) both achieving number one songs in successive weeks, the news should be Ingrid Andress surpassing Gabby Barrett at the number one spot not a debuting woman following another on the top spot. With it becoming more and more in focus right now, does it appear that the tide is turning?
You know, yes and no! It’s funny because like you said if there are two females that go number one, it’s huge news, it’s amazing like Oh My Gosh! It’s History! That shouldn’t be news, it should just be we had two females back to back. So it seems like things are changing when you do see female artists with the number one spot and seeing girls doing great things but at the same time it’s like nothing truly is changing or if it is, it’s going so slow that it’s painful to watch it creep that slow. I feel like at this point it’s such a big like conversation where you would expect a lot more change to be happening but it’s just not. The same goes for people of colour in country music and LGBTQ people in country music, it’s pretty crazy how you would think just the amount of conversation around it, the scrutiny and whatever, you would assume there would be more change and people would be held accountable but it’s definitely a big bridge that we’re still trying to get over!
But does Alyssa think this is driving creativity and exploration with people pushing boundaries?
I do think a big part of it especially for women, is radio is not gonna play my music, I’m just gonna put out what I wanna put out! You see people like Kacey Musgraves doing that, then Gabby and Ingrid like we mentioned and I do think that is a part of it because I have noticed that pretty much no female acts that I know of, follow the machine I guess you could say. We’re all just trying to put out the best product that we can, the best lyrics, the best melodies, the best production so I do think that is a part of it and I do also think that people especially in country music are just getting braver in terms of what they put into their music. Whether that is controversial lyrics and ideas or boundary pushing production and I think it’s really cool to see the growth and the cool sounds coming out.
then is this growth and expansion helping to push the genre and help the appetite for creativity?
It is for sure, I think it’s so exciting and like I mentioned just the growth that’s happening. I think that’s so cool and I know a lot of people watch an award show or listen to the radio or whatever it is and hear like pop and rock influence. I think that is one of the great things about country music, there’s something for everyone! If you want traditional, there’s traditional or if you want super modern it’s there along with everything in between. I think that’s a great thing because there’s literally something for everyone, if you hear someone say they don’t like country music, they just haven’t found the country music that they would love which is a really cool thing about this genre.
Then finally we talked about the parallel universe where things are going as planned and what are her plans for moving forward for the rest of the year when the world allows music to take centre stage once more and she can get back out to doing what she does best and loves doing the most:
The album is a pretty big focus for me right now. I do really really hope I can get back to touring and as soon as I can I’m gonna play as many shows as possible and try and make up for the lost time. But I’m really gonna keep trying to write as much as I can whether by myself or with co-writers. I love trying out new sounds on music, I produce my own stuff so I can try to make it sound completely different and I think that’s super fun. Really my goal for the next year is to get this album out, make it as real as it can possibly be, make it a true reflection of me as a person and an artist then get back out touring as soon as I can.
This young lady does it all! She sings, she writes for herself, writes for others, plays instruments and then brings it all together in the studio, She is honest, she is creative, optimistic whilst being realistic, so refreshing to speak to and above all incredibly talented. When the world starts spinning again, I cannot wait to come and see her but in the meantime, see what we are talking and catch her online and her socials.
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