Words: Heather McDaid
“Signed to a new label, made a new record, recently got engaged, what more could I ask for?” begins Allison Weiss. “2015 feels like my year so far.” It does seem like a fantastic few months, and it’s only set to get better with the release of her latest album ‘New Love’, which creeps ever closer, and she’s excited for people to hear it.
‘New Love’ is a different experience, in that it was more crafted in its inception, and the whole process has gone by a little quicker. “This has been the quickest turnaround time on an album for me. This is really the first album where I’ve written every song with the album in mind, rather than just compiling a bunch of songs I’d written over the years. Everything is fresh, and we finished recording in May so I’m stoked that I’ll still love all the songs when they’ll be coming out!”
What strikes through from a very early point in this album is that Allison’s talent for relatable lyrics is still intact. In fact, she practically leans out the record and throws an arm around you for a chat, with exceptionally infectious background music to your musings on the ins and outs of life and love.
“In the past, all of my song writing was very spur-of-the-moment and inspired by things that were happening to me at the time of writing,” explains Allison. “This record is different, because I was able to sit down and really think about what I wanted to say and the topics I wanted to address. I combed through old diaries and dug into things from my past that I hadn’t quite resolved, and thought about new ways I could approach those topics.”
Some of the topics at hand are difficult, with words on depression and anxiety wrapped up in what ultimately feels like an uplifting track. Does that disparity between topic and music have any significance in either putting the topic down, or perhaps for the listener? “Writing songs is definitely very cathartic for me. It’s also sort of become my way of talking about the things I think I may have figured out.
“I listen to music for the feelings it evokes, much of which has to do with lyrical content. I’ve learned a lot about myself through the music of others, so I try and sing about the things I’ve learned myself. As for the disconnect between the upbeat music and depressing lyrics, I think that just has a lot to do with my love of catchy pop songs. I love how some of the saddest songs in the world are the songs you’d hear on the dance floor.”
In anticipation of the album’s release, Allison reviewed her own album on her new label, SideOneDummy’s Twitter account, and while it was entertaining and poked fun at herself at times, listening back to one’s own music is something many avoid, but not Allison. “My typical routine is to finish a record and then listen to it about 1000 times to make sure I did it right,” she says.
“Spoiler alert: nothing is ever perfect. I literally have OCD, so that might have a lot to do with it, but I know a lot of artists who do the same thing. It’s interesting to give your album to someone you admire and then listen back to it, wondering what they’ll think of it. For the SideOneDummy Twitter review, I channelled my inner bored music blogger. Maybe it’s my Freudian way of beating any critics to the punch.”
Within ‘New Love’ is a host of songs that are just perfect for summer; sad, in a way, given that the season has just finished. “My personal favourite is a song called ‘Back To Me’ and it’s my ode to those super sad pop songs I was talking about. Mainstream media has created this fairytale where we all have unrealistic expectations, because we see movies and watch TV shows and hear songs about the underdog coming out on top. Pop music is about keeping the dream alive. ‘Back To Me’ is a song about buying into that dream. I’ve definitely cried to a song on the radio, dreaming of the day my ex would come running back into my arms, but knowing full well that they were gone for good.”
It’s one of the real beauties of the album, listening intently to the lyrics takes you through an entirely different journey to merely pressing play and continuing on with your day as it hums through your headphones, and the production is just as honed as Allison’s lyricism. “Stylistically this is my favourite record I’ve made,” she notes. “I feel like it’s the first record that sounds like a combination of all the music I listen to. I hope listeners get into the production as much as the lyrical content. I hope it makes them want to dance and maybe cry at the same time. Ha!”
Running alongside all the positive build up has been some well needed discussions operating within the industry, with one Twitter feed in particular spotlighting the treatment of women involved, from musicians to journalists and fans. As someone in the industry, how does she feel about this, albeit broad, topic? “I can say I feel like it’s getting better all the time,” begins Allison. “I see more and more amazing women in music being recognised for what they’re doing. Obviously we have light years to go, and we may never truly be seen as equals, but at least we’re making progress.
“I think the word fangirl is offensive and detrimental to the music industry. I think teenage girls are some of the most important and influential fans that a band could have, and instead of using this word fangirl as a negative, the fangirls should be praised. People come up to me at the merch table and apologise for fangirling and I’m like, ‘I fucking love fangirls!’ I love people who are passionate about their favourite things.”
Passion is infused in the industry from the musicians at the start of creation through to the fans waiting to buy a new album, or queuing hours to witness something special in a live show. What you’re passionate about can be a labour of love, and for Allison, she never seems to stop. If she’s not working on an album, she’ll more than likely be filling the space with EPs, while hitting the road as much as she can.
“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been making stuff. It’s important to me to continue creating. That’s what this is all about. Whether it’s making a record or designing a poster, or coming up with a cool tour idea, I just want to always be putting something new and fun into the world.”