Embrace your originality and uniqueness. — I wish I would’ve learned this earlier. I spent years thinking that music wasn’t “good enough” because It didn’t sound like anything that was on the radio at the time. But, if everything sounded the same, we wouldn’t have genres. Sometimes we feel sad and want to hear music to uplift us. Sometimes we want to turn up and party. Sometimes we want so sip wine and listen to jazz. Music for every emotion wouldn’t be possible if everyone sounded the same. Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Alia Lene.
Alia Lene is a Minneapolis born singer songwriter, producer and beatmaker and was raised in a small Baptist church. She joined the church band as a child and due to the congregations’ small size, like most preacher’s kids she and her family doubled as the church band and choir and found themselves also tackling the task of audio engineer. This early education served as the foundation for Alia Lene to learn to produce, mix and create the beats for her own music in addition to learning piano, guitar, bass and cello. She went on to study sound engineering, graduating from The High School for Recording Arts in Saint Paul. Alia Lene plays a part in every aspect of her musical process and her goal is to bring self-expression, creativity, and healing through the musical stories she creates.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/6f66c865d6d60a66fbcec59e19145761
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me! I grew up in Minneapolis Minnesota with my family. I did a lot of moving and traveling throughout my childhood and I think that opened me up to the knowledge that I write about in my music. I’ve been told that I’m wise beyond my years and I think this has a lot to do with my childhood.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
I honestly wish I had a story where I miraculously “fell in love with music,” but to be honest, I’ve been creating music my entire life. I can’t remember ever not doing music. I did however begin to really pursue It at the age of 13. That’s when I recorded my first album with my uncle an also when Beyonce came to Minneapolis. Our seats were all the way in the back of the stadium. I could literally touch the stadium wall, that’s how far away we were. But I remember crying at Beyonce’s reach. This was the moment I decided that I also wanted to be a performer.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I have so many. But December 2019 I remember when I got the news of my first placement ever! But on top of that, it was the opening track to the movie ’Twas The Chaos Before Christmas. In that same month, My Heart Aches was picked to be on Tyler Perry’s, Sistas! It was an amazing month to say the least!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if this counts as funny, but I’ll never forget my first audition for the X Factor. My mother drove me all the way from Minneapolis to Texas in one stretch. There was a tornado along the way, and it was storming the entire time. We got to the sign up within the last hour. The next day we waited in line for hours. I stepped up to my audition, sung for 15 seconds and was told “Thanks, but it’s gonna be a no for today.” At the time I was hurt of course. But looking back on this story now, I appreciate the lesson and the experience. This was the first failed audition of many, but it taught me perseverance. I had to fight to keep my confidence and my belief that I could actually do this.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just finished my Christmas EP and we will be releasing that in December 2020. I’ve also been working vigorously on my first album as well.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Diversity is very important in the entertainment industry. A young child being able to see themselves in powerful roles is so important. Also, different viewpoints and stories should be shared so others can learn things that they may not experience in life. I love where we are today because I believe we are seeing this. For example, Black Panther, RIP Chadwick Boseman, did so much for the black community! I saw so many Halloween photos of black children posing as superheroes, saving lives and fighting crime. Some wouldn’t think this means much, but it really does. Children are so imaginative, so when they see characters and celebrities that look like them doing amazing things, shows them that the sky is the limit for them. When we as humans learn about each other it breaks the divide and opens up room conversation. This in time, I think encourages more compassion in the world.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Embrace your originality and uniqueness.
I wish I would’ve learned this earlier. I spent years thinking that music wasn’t “good enough” because It didn’t sound like anything that was on the radio at the time. But, if everything sounded the same, we wouldn’t have genres. Sometimes we feel sad and want to hear music to uplift us. Sometimes we want to turn up and party. Sometimes we want so sip wine and listen to jazz. Music for every emotion wouldn’t be possible if everyone sounded the same. Be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.
2. Challenge Yourself / Uncomfortable is GOOD
Its so easy to get into a routine and stay in it. This causes stagnation in my opinion. Whenever I’m hit with writers block, I like to try something I’ve never done. Use a sound or a plugin I’ve never used before. That helps you break your own barriers and impress yourself.
3. Live in The Moment. Where You Are IS where you SHOULD be.
Be thankful for where you are. I’ve spent so much time excited for the future (which is fine) but I began to “escape” into my fantasies which made me forget to be thankful for how far I’ve already come. I missed out on many opportunities to have fun sometimes because I was so wrapped up in “when.” Now that’s not saying that you shouldn’t work hard because that’s necessary. But, its okay to go out, have fun and nurture your relationships. Life is short, so LIVE it.
4. There’s a long road ahead. So be patient and take your time.
There’s power in experiences and stories. There’s no need to rush. Being in a state of rush makes up miss the beauty in life. Anything worthwhile is worth working and waiting for. You don’t see Olympic athletes getting medals and awards on their first time hitting the track or jumping in the pool. Dreams take work and work takes time. Be patient with you and work hard! Itll all be worth it.
5. Love Yourself
I feel all of these things I mentioned will come a lot easier when you take the time to learn and love yourself. When you know yourself, you don’t get easily swayed by trends because you know who you are and where you want to go. You have more compassion with yourself when you fail or miss an opportunity. Selflove is the best love. Don’t search for it in others, because its already in you.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Be patient with yourself! Its so easy to look at everyone else’s journey and get discouraged with your own. I’ve spent so much time knowing my potential that I’ve gotten discouraged when I just wasn’t there yet. The moment I began to focus on my progress is when I truly started to grow. Listen to your old songs/projects through the years and hear the growth. Stay on that path.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Thank you so much! Honestly this is something I’m still working on. There’s so much I want to do and inspire, especially for the younger generation. So whatever movement I do step into, it will definitely have something to do with our children.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Exactly! Help and support is so important. First and foremost, GOD. Without faith, I wouldn’t have had the strength for this uphill dream. Second, is my mother because of her continuous encouragement and support. And last but not least, my management team Contra. Haqq Islam and Aaron Eubanks were the first people to really believe in me as an artist. I’ve been told my entire life that I didn’t have the “look” to be an artist. But Contra focused solely on the music and gave me room to really explore my sound.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Always Be A Student.” I live by this rule. This helps me avoid any feelings of envy or jealousy in my life. If I ever feel those feelings, I remember that I only feel this way because I’m actually impressed with the project. So I sit back, and LEARN. This is a more productive way of collaborating.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
YES! Oh my gosh, theres so many but I gotta name MISSY ELLIOT. I love her so much. She’s so inspirational to me. I have followed her career and I am just so impressed with her creativity and originality. I would love to pick her brain on everything from writing to personal life perseverance. Missy If you see this, THANK YOU for inspiring young artists like me.
How can our readers follow you online?
You guys can follow me everywhere @AliaLene. You can also visit my website for all updates on new releases, shows and updates. Thank you all. I love yall!