You may already have heard us mention Californian based Alice Wallace, we gave her latest album “ Into The Blue” a shout out last Friday and she also featured in our recent article about the all-female owned music company Rebelle Road as the album is released on their new record label ( “ They care so much about giving women a stronger voice in the music industry” says Alice in regard to Rebelle Road).
Alice moved from her home state with the rest of her musical family to Florida, learning to play guitar at the age of 10 and soon beginning to write songs herself which she’d perform at the local Borders bookstore. But it was when she and her family returned to California in 2008 that she began to really focus on her musical career. Since then she has been attracting the attention of fans and critics alike, winning the 2016 Best Country/Americana artist at the L.A. Music Critics Awards and in 2017 was Female Vocalist Of The Year at the California Country Awards.
I sent this interview to Alice ahead of her album release but over the past few days have been able to listen to “Into The Blue” in its entirety ( something I’ve done multiple times!) and it has impressed on every level, its thought provoking lyrics, stunning and versatile vocals , and beautiful arrangements are just three reasons I urge you to check it out yourselves! Here’s a taste of what to expect, the brand new music video for the album’s lead single “ Santa Ana Winds”, written about the devastating wildfires that have swept through California in recent years
1. LH Alice, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! I always like to paint a picture by asking interviewees where they are as they reply…..so let’s start off with that one!
AW It’s a Saturday night and I’m curled up in bed with my laptop after a whirlwind couple of days for my new album release.
2. LH And I’d like to jump in and ask a bit more about your new album “ Into The Blue” ……your fourth album, but it’s only been a few years since you took the plunge to give up you “ day job” and become a full-time musician I gather? That must have taken courage and hopefully you had a lot of support from those around you?
AW I did have so much support when I made the decision to quit my job and pursue my music full-time. My family has always been behind me – from the time I picked up a guitar and started writing songs when I was only 15. And for this new album, my support team has grown immensely: I have the three women of Rebelle Road Records as well as the gentlemen at JTM Music working tirelessly to help get this music out to the world, and great help with publicity and radio. And a talented band of musicians who bring my songs to life. And so many other friends and fans who help in so many other ways. I am really so lucky to be surrounded by incredible people everywhere I turn.
3.LH And the title track to this new project is inspired by that choice to a certain extent isn’t it? What more can you tell me about the song?
AW The title track of the album is called “The Blue.” And it’s a song that I did, indeed, write about my decision to essentially “sail away into the blue” to chase my dreams. Life is so short. I realized if I didn’t give it my all I would always wonder “what if?” And the song is even more special because in the end, my family joined me in the studio to sing the harmonies behind me. It was somewhat of an accident that it happened that way, but I can’t imagine a more fitting way to finish that song.
4. LH understand you’ve co-written a lot of the tracks, which differs from the solo writes on your previous releases. Have you enjoyed the collaborative process and what has it taught you?
AW Collaborating on some of the songs on this new album has made a huge difference. It helped me stretch myself musically and lyrically in ways I likely would not have discovered on my own. I was hesitant to write with other songwriters for so many years, and I’m so glad to have gotten over that and embraced the beauty of looking at a song through another writer’s eyes.
5. LH One of your co-writers has also co-produced the album, Rebelle Road’s K.P. Hawthorn, and the all-female owned Rebelle Road are releasing the album on their label. This really is a fantastic example of “ gal power” at a time when female country artists are finding it tough on many levels, isn’t it?
AW I am so proud to be the first artist whose album will be on Rebelle Road Records. I have worked with KP Hawthorn for years now – she also produced my last album. And when she began working with Rebelle Road, along with Adrienne Isom and Karen Rappaport, I was so intrigued. They are working hard to promote equality in the music industry, and it has been such a pleasure to have such talented and ambitious women lending their time and efforts to this new album.
(LH find out more about Rebelle Road in our recent article http://bellesandgals.com/2019/01/17/interview-with-rebelle-road/ )
6. LH There’s more than a smattering of social commentary on the album’s tracks. Last year’s very powerful single/video “ Elephants ” urges women to be strong, to stand up and be heard ( although I’m aware you didn’t write that one!)
And there’s the heart wrenching “ Desert Rose” about a young mother and her child attempting to make it across the border for a better life which is sadly all-too-widely applicable these days ( the opening lines grabbed me immediately, “ She was born at the wrong time, on the wrong side of the line” ). That’s just two that spring to mind. Can I assume that it’s mostly such issues that inspire you as an artist these days?
AW I’ve never considered myself a politically-charged songwriter in any way. But in these last couple years, I’ve found myself unable to ignore what was happening in the world around me when it came to my song inspiration. Songs have a power to help bring understanding and bridge gaps in ways that few art forms have. So I found myself wanting to tell stories that matter.
7. LH Talking of inspiration, can you tell me a bit about the artists you listened to while growing up who made you want to write and perform? And which current artists do you connect with?
The two I always name first are Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris – mostly because those are the songs that my parents would sing together in the living room or on the back porch when I was growing up. But also, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, and other powerful female singers were the ones who made me want to use my voice. When I was really starting to write songs, it was artists like Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, Ani Difranco, Patty Griffin who inspired me the most. These days, I’m a huge fan of Brandi Carlile, Sara Watkins, Jason Isbell, Courtney Marie Andrews, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and so many more. There’s some truly great Americana and country music being made right now, but unfortunately, you don’t hear very much of it on the radio.
8. LH And talking of performing….you play an insane amount of live dates it seems…..in this age of the internet and the rise of social media is that still the way you prefer to get your music heard and to connect with people?
AW I am happiest when I’m on stage. The internet does make it easier to get your music heard far and wide, but there is just no way to compare it to connecting with someone in person – sharing the story behind the song, watching the expressions in the audience as you see the words resonate. So I will always play live as much as I can.
9. LH Is there a “ bucket list” venue you’ve yet to perform at?
AW I think the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville is the place I’d love to perform more than any other.
10. LH What lies in store for you this year, and do you have any plans to visit us here in UK in the future?
AW I will be doing lots of touring this year, and in fact, we have just begun booking a UK tour in October. I am so thrilled. I visited the UK once a couple years ago to play as part of the Country 2 Country festival in London, and can’t wait to come back.
LH That’s fantastic to hear, I’ll definitely be looking out for more news about that and of course we will be sharing all your dates here on the Belles and Gals site!
“Into The Blue” is available to listen/download now, and you can find out more about Alice at alicewallacemusic.com
Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)