Photo Credit: Hunt Pennington
Amicable breakups, self-identity, traveling a DIY route. All of that and then some was on the table when it came time to sit down and dish with Nashville’s own, allie about their latest release, ‘Maybe Next Time,’ out now. A touring musician who decided it was time for them to do their own thing. We talked about that decision, their albums possibly helping aid in a journey of self, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: Right when I hit play on “ETYG” I was taken back to my first time at Coachella, standing in the heat vibing to bands like The Silversun Pickups. Were they a band you grew up liking, or were you inspired elsewhere to get into music?
allie: That’s a fantastic visual. I’m pretty sure the first time I heard “Lazy Eye” was on AOL Instant Messenger’s online radio platform when I was like 11 or 12. That song filled me with excitement and probably some subconscious hope for rock music at the time. I think I gained musical inspiration from a lot of places in my life, but locally, there was a decent-sized hardcore scene that I remember being inspired and probably a little bit intimidated by since everyone was older than me. Once I took up guitar at age 12, I started forming bands and trying to collaborate with friends.
Kendra: Because before you dove into your own thing, you were a touring musician. How did it feel to step into your own as an artist and start to craft your own music?
allie: Closing out 2019 with a bit of full-time touring experience under my belt, I felt a growing, albeit unexpected, compulsion to create music under a solo project, stepping out for the first time into something all my own. At this point, I had been creating music for years in collaboration with other people but had never pursued a solo project.
Thankfully, I think all of my creative endeavors feel born out of a certain necessity to express, and therefore the decision to write for this solo project just felt like a natural extension of authorship I had been pursuing for some time. What’s particularly exciting to me about this project is that I get to sculpt things with complete freedom, including expressing myself through lyrics, which I haven’t always made space for.
Kendra: Your debut, ‘Maybe Next Time,’ was recorded in a spare bedroom. So it is very DIY, something super common nowadays but for those still hesitant about going that route, do you have any advice they may not find elsewhere online?
allie: It has taken me hundreds, if not thousands, of hours laboring over my computer, experimenting with sounds and DAWs and plugins and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. Hopefully, the sense of infinite potential can be inspiring, but in my experience, it can also feel intimidating when you’re starting out. Though much of my experience is due to time spent alone or on YouTube, I’m very lucky to have met a few talented folks who have shared helpful production/mixing advice along the way.
My advice to people who want to get into recording is to understand that it will take time to build your sense of intuition, but ultimately that your intuition is probably the most valuable creative skill you can strengthen. Also, if you can, ask people for help! Learn how other people pursue their vision and consider if similar approaches might work for you.
Kendra: So this record deals with a lot from self-identity to a breakup but unlike countless albums about a broken heart, there is truly no real malice here as you and your former partner still care for one another. As someone whose parents weren’t together but remained really good friends, I appreciate a record like this. Do you feel your experience, although unique in many ways, can help guide others towards a healthier way of splitting up and moving forward?
allie: I think it’s really cool that you’ve come to appreciate the record through that lens- thanks for sharing that. My highest possible hope for the record is that it could, even if to a small degree, encourage self-inquiry and perhaps inspire people to prioritize their relationships with themselves and/or with people they love. Also fine if u just wanna jam…
Kendra: You’ve noted that 2020s ‘Junior Coder’s Experiment’ EP was cathartic for you in terms of realizing things about yourself, so when I heard “I have always lived within the grey” in “ETYG” I wondered, was your journey towards coming out as transgender and non-binary something that was always in the back of your mind, even growing up? Because while trans and non-binary people have always been around, with very little to no representation or talk of them even 20 years ago, it was hard for many to really know what they were experiencing.
allie: I think you raise a good point. By the time I started to most accurately and authentically identify, I had spent years feeling various types of self-hatred and depression. For many years, I hardly realized how problematic my relationship with my body was. I tried very hard to ignore the sense that something was very wrong with the way I was presenting in the world. I often strived to be moral, hard-working, and compassionate, and I figured I was doing an okay job at these pursuits.
Throughout my life, I’ve known incredible people, and have still been able to enjoy many special experiences. The unfortunate aspect is that I had very little ability to love myself or know myself deeply because I was so out of touch with my gender identity. The line “I have always lived within the grey” is meant to acknowledge my experience throughout my life of feeling like an outsider, not necessarily confining to neat, categorizable labels, and certainly not within the gender binary.
Kendra: I do a podcast called Crushgasm where guests talk about various types of crushes they’ve had and I did an episode with a transmasculine, non-binary musician who wanted to talk about three crushes that sexually awakened them. In doing so we sort of realized that each crush added a new layer to their evolving sexuality and identity. I kind of saw that mirrored in your albums with your EP kickstarting the catharsis, and now ‘Maybe Next Time’ helping you explore more of your self-identity. With that, where do you hope your next album leads you on this journey called life?
allie: That sounds like a pretty fun way of doing some self-investigation, ha. I hope that the material I have already written since ‘Maybe Next Time,’ and whatever I continue to make, will encourage me to strive for authenticity, knowing there’s no such thing as doing a perfect job at it. Making new things always resembles, to me, a source of hope for the future, not just creatively but holistically. I hope to cherish the opportunity to create, and to strengthen my communication skills along the way.
Kendra: Lastly, it’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
allie: I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and while a lot is still in the air, I’m trying to focus on what is within my control, and have a sense of peace about what is not. I plan to continue to work hard on making things, including live shows, but also to be a better person to others and a better overall version of myself. Some of that will likely entail being able to better prioritize loved ones and to try and maintain healthy activities throughout the winter. Anything to combat seasonal affective disorder!