SHE is an artist whose music, once heard, fills the soul…
and gets right into the heart. I have been speaking with Alba Plano about her new track, Out There, and what one can expect from her forthcoming E.P., White Lotus. The Sciliy-born musician talks about relocating to London and how she spends time away from music – I ask whether we can see her tour this year.
Plano tells me about her path into music and which new artists are interesting her; the three albums that mean the most to her; how she linked with Amy Winehouse’s bass player, Dale Davis – what advice she would give to artists coming through.
Hi Alba. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi, there. I am well, thanks. I'm also excited about this amazing experience of having the opportunity to share my music.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a Jazz and Neo-Soul singer; Sicily-born-and-bred, now living in London. I'm working on my project and am about to release my first E.P. called White Lotus.
What is your new single, Out There, all about?
My new single, Out There, it's about fear, about the limit we put on ourselves because it makes us feel safe; because, at least 'we know who we are', but that's not helping when you want to grow and expand your soul. It takes a big amount of love and respect for ourselves to allow us to see things in a different perspective.
This song is about the difficulty in finding beauty around us, in nature; in a smile, in very simple things we struggle to appreciate - especially when you live in a place like London that forces you to focus on yourself; that teaches you to count only on yourself, that pushes your ego and, sometimes, makes you blind.
Did you know, when you heard Out There back for the first time, something special had been created?
Because my background is Jazz and Soul; when I heard the song back for the first time, it was clear to me that I had created something that connected my influences with something personal. I hope that comes across.
Your E.P., White Lotus, is out later this year. What are the themes that inspire the songwriting?
What made me write the lyrics of this E.P. was a strong desire to overcome my fears, my experiences and to move forward. Whatever decisions I made in life, even the ones that made me suffer, contributed to the person that I am now.
There’s beauty in the fact that we heal and get stronger if we stay pure to our soul.
Tell me how you came to be involved with Amy Winehouse’s bassist, Dale Davis.
I met Dale Davis at a gig. He was impressed with my interpretation of her songs. A year later, the producers of the project, Forever Amy, contacted me and I started this beautiful and exciting experience with Amy’s original band members. I am truly honoured to be part of this because Amy is a huge inspiration; the one who combined in the most natural way the power of Soul music with the depth and refinement of Jazz.
What is London like for a young artist? How does it affect you?
I feel cold most of the time. I am trying to be real and, yes, this city is vibrant, has a lot of opportunities to offer. But, what makes this town special, is the people I’ve met from all over the world. They are open, ready to help without asking anything in return, simply because they know how difficult London can be. So, I ended up feeling part of their family.
On a human level; London is really something else; something that gives you a lot of hope - even when you have none.
How did music come into your life? Did you grow up in a musical household?
I discovered, at the age of twelve, that music was certainly a way to discover myself; a way to connect with my sensibilities and personality, always an incredible source of joy. Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Whitney Huston were the first influences…then Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Bill Evans: the ones I still listen to now.
If you had to select three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Kind of Blue - Miles Davis
There’s magic, freedom; truth, pain. There’s everything I want to listen to. A masterpiece. You can’t say you love Jazz if you’ve never listened to Kind of Blue.
You Must Believe in Spring - Bill Evans
Although the album is about grief, it is sweet and comforting because of the way Bill plays; the close harmonies. To me, it’s a real experience and gives me lots of peace every time I listen to it.
Off the Wall - Michael Jackson
Lots of memories; an example of how a Pop song should be written. Great arrangements; everyone at the top of their game. The one thing that always gets me dancing at home alone.
Can we see you on tour this year at all?
I will be touring from June. I am taking some time off to dedicate myself to writing new material for the next album.
What does the stage mean to you? How does it feel performing in front of people?
Every time I go on stage, I know it’s the only place I wanna be. It’s always an opportunity to transcend. I am open with the audience and I think they can feel my passion and joy.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Getting out there playing my music with the musicians I love the most is very important to me - I get lots of inspiration from them.
What is your favourite memory of your time in music?
I feel lucky to already have many memories of my time in music. One I will never forget is when I saw Stevie Wonder live, probably because I had so many childhood memories of his music - and he is one of the first artists that inspired me.
What advice would you give new artists coming through?
The only advice I can give to new artist like me is to make music that really means something to you and enjoy what you’re doing, without asking yourself if everyone is going to like it. Nowadays, we see so many examples of fake music realities pushed by T.V., programs like X Factor etc.
Teenagers are dreaming of getting on to those shows because they think it’s the only way you can become an artist. But, it takes much more then jumping on stage and singing on backing tracks in front of millions of people to be able to be ready to write your own music, to play with others musicians and to sing in front of many people.
It’s a journey that you cannot skip - but should enjoy instead.
What do you like to do in order to unwind from music?
I love painting, travelling and cooking. On my last trip to Bali, I had the chance to learn Asian cooking from an amazing chef. I believe that food tells you a lot about a culture and its people.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can select a song and I’ll play it here.
Tawo - Jordan Rakei
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