First Published on PureNowhere on 30th October 2020
Honest. Intimate. Vulnerable.
This is how singer-songwriter Alayna would describe her music in three words. And her listeners probably agree.
“My softness is my superpower,“ Alayna sings in her song, “Tender.”
Sometimes being vulnerable with friends and family can already be tough, but Alayna makes a point to be vulnerable and honest in every writing session; whether she writes alone or with the likes of Finneas O’Connell — or answers our questions in an exclusive interview with Pure Nowhere.
Six-year-old Alayna sang to her father’s guitar tunes, and through him, was exposed to the music of legendary songwriters such as Neil Young. Between the lines, she learned songwriting from the best through her father’s great taste in music. However, she never made the conscious choice to write. But at the end of high school when she took part in a Songwriting Competition and saw Paramore’s Hayley Williams perform, Alayna thought, “Damn, I want to do that.” And luckily, her parents supported her decision to pursue music, because today the world is another great songwriter richer — one which sees it as “Feeling — Feeling but out loud.” Alayna successfully creates songs that capture emotions too complex for a single adjective and makes things which seem intangible, tangible in her music.
But it wasn’t always like this. Three years ago, a songwriting session made the musician overcome her fear of opening up in her writing. She used to dance around the topics she wanted to write about and was very guarded in how she wrote. “Between Dusk and Dawn” was produced with Finneas, and was when she decided to be super honest and raw. It was a pivotal moment that unlocked something within her, as she learned that even though it was a super heavy song, “the world didn’t end.” This taught her to write down exactly what plays in her head and heart, even though it can still be quite terrifying. And that is probably one of the greatest lessons Alayna has taught us: being vulnerable is scary, but the world won’t end if you allow yourself to open up to people — if anything, we begin to build stronger connections with the people around us, and gain a better understanding of them.
“Alayna successfully creates songs that capture emotions too complex for a single adjective and makes things which seem intangible, tangible in her music.”
When asked what was one of her favorite songs to record, Alayna said “Sweet Soul.” But this very session in New York was at the risk of being canceled, as she received the news that her childhood dog had passed away in a phone call with her mother. It was one of her worst days, as she told us, and yet making music and processing her emotions in the session with Bobby Yewah turned the whole day around. After hours in the studio, talking and coming up with a tune on the couch, the song was recorded, proving just how powerful music can be.
And what about the days on which one’s creativity hits the snooze button?
“If I can’t write, then who am I?” — is the question that used to haunt the Australian musician when writer’s block knocked on her door. But over the years she learned to keep trying and to keep turning up. One tip her parents gave her as a child at a gymnastic competition was, “You can’t do better than your best.” It was one of these sayings you don’t understand at first and later in life, it just hits you, as Alayna told us. When the dread of not feeling like an artist makes writing hard, she internalises that perhaps her “best today might be half — or more — of what she could do tomorrow.” She will always be proud because each song is the best she could do at that moment.
And after all, the singer told us that after the release, “It becomes everybody else’s art afterward.”
Alayna loves discovering new music, as much as she loves creating it. It’s moments of “Thank god, I’m not alone in this feeling” which made her realise how powerful a song can be, and that it truly goes beyond any data, sales, or numbers — that a song can truly change someone’s entire life and perspective.
And this is the very reason that she recently released her second, fully independent and self-funded, EP Tender, which is both more honest and vulnerable than before. It follows the chronological arc of a relationship and holds many learnings; one of them is that “Love’s Price is Pain.”
When asked whether there’s an album coming, Alayna lovingly said: “You can’t start off by doing a 40k run when you haven’t done a 5k run.”
So, we are very excited to continuously follow her journey of self-discovery as an artist — and at last, one thing she would like people to take away from her music?
To make you feel heard — and inspire you to be more vulnerable.
“Feeling — but out loud.”