I heard Miss Alana Stewart’s song “perfervid” one afternoon. You know the routine- I get a lot of music thrown at me so I clicked play and got back on with my work not thinking twice. As soon as the track started though Stewart’s voice was so successfully piercing that I paused just to focus on her range, the unavoidable longing in her addictive voice was hard to ignore, and before I knew it one track had turned into five, and without realizing it- I was hooked.
My first show in London, and one public transport ride and three flights of stairs later and I was sitting across from Stewart, innocently spinning in a chair as we prepped for our interview, and off we went!
LN: Let’s dive right in and talk about your main musical influences!
AS: When I was younger- way younger- my Grandfather kind of directed the music at our church and my Grandmother played piano, and they used to take me to these things called gospel singings- kind of in the Ozark country in the Midwest, and that was the biggest chunk of music I was exposed to until about age 12. Then, I moved to California and the music scene in San Francisco was really great- they had a lot of great influences like Jimmy Lewis and the whole Rilo Kiley thing. I was trained as a jazz singer so I was listening to a lot of Ella Fitzgerald and Etta James.
LN: Does religion play a big part in music for you?
AS: I think at best, music has a religious or kind of cathartic feeling to it. But you feel kind of the same buzz if the music is good.
LN: I read that melody primarily holds the most importance to you in your music, and not lyrics- explain that a little bit.
AS: Sometimes I’ll just be walking down the street and the melody will come, or I’ll be working on a chord progression and the melody will come- and to me, that’s when a song becomes a song, is when you have the melody.
LN: You were in school focusing on the visual arts- what did you originally want to be when you grew up?
AS: Originally I wanted to be a singer! But I got it in my head that that wasn’t going to possible. So I started doing visual art for film and advertising and stuff like that. But I did a demo CD and I gave it out as Christmas presents to my professors and they were like- what are you doing?! You should be doing this (singing) school will always be here…
LN: Well I’m happy they said it!
LN: Pre-show vices or rituals?
AS: Hmm- I get nervous, I talk a lot. Can’t sit still. Rituals, rituals…I should get a ritual!
LN: Festival you’re looking forward to in the coming year?
AS: Well- I don’t have any money to go to festivals…but if I could pick any it would be SXSW!
LN: Alright main musical differences between the states and the music scene here in London?
AS: I think London bands are a lot more plugged in! They’re using a lot more equipment than California bands are. I think California bands are going through like a neo-acoustic thing and using a lot more kind of jazz instruments and things that just don’t need to be plugged in! And- the fashion’s a lot different! They have cleaner lines.
LN: Craziest trip/ show story to date?!
AS: Well…there’s the deportation story! I came over here (London) in 2009 to try and play shows and I bought a one way ticket to London and I had all these shows I had booked myself so I was just going to travel after and play shows, etc. But I got rejected at the border, and they sent me to Iceland because I took Iceland Air and so their policy was to send you back to your last port of entry! So I ended up stuck on this island in the Arctic Ocean for 2 months. So then, when I was trying to come here for meetings and tours and stuff my passport had obviously been flagged so I ended up in airport jail overnight.
LN: But the moral of the story is you made it!
AS: I made it! I had to get a lawyer but I got people involved who really cared and it worked out!
The soft-spoken Stewart seems like she would be in possession of a mere meek voice incapable of any amount of substantial depth, but she took the stage, and nothing (nothing, including a glass of Chardonnay) could have prepared me for what was about to come out. I was in complete acoustic shock, and couldn’t grasp for the right words when she stepped off stage post-performance. Her jazz style influences are more than apparent, but equally so are her mid-west roots that pop up every so often mid-song.
You can keep up with the latest and greatest in Miss Alana Stewart’s life HERE and London, you can catch her at the Old Queen’s Head on Thursday, Jun 30! I can’t thank her enough for being my intro into the London music scene- the show was an absolute blast and if I walked away with anything it’s knowing this is just the beginning for this artist!
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