While the majority of her career has been centered around creating music for other artists, performing has always been a passion. “I wanted to be an artist when I first immigrated from Russia to the States,” Alina shares, “but it took me years to master the English language enough to fluently write in it, by which point I was told by several music executives that I was ‘too old’. They told me I should focus on producing and writing, which I did. But the desire to speak my truth through my own music never went away. So here I am, releasing my first EP at 34. It’s crazy that it feels like such a crazy thing, but ageism is very real in our industry.“
Alina addresses those ageist ideals head-on in her new EP “2000’s teen”, written and produced entirely by herself. Amid chest-rattling kick drums, bitey piano parts, and spitfire vocals, the lead single “Grown Fucking Woman” delivers the message that maturity is something to be embraced, not feared. While the other songs on the EP explore various other challenges Alina had faced in her journey: from “Girl That Was Perfect”, which deals with Alina’s recovery from an eating disorder, to “Proud”, touching on mental trauma and recovery. “Overall, this EP is just me giving myself lots of free therapy,” Alina jokes. “I hope hearing it helps others going through some of the same issues I had gone through.“
Tell us about the story of your act
I’ve been in music pretty much my whole life. Started in a kids’ singing group back in Russia, where I was born. Then I moved to the States, tried to pursue being a solo artist, but it just wasn’t gelling for me. When I couldn’t get the project off the ground after 10 years, I pretty much focused on writing and producing for other artists, like ITZY, Red Velvet, Betty Who, and many others. Ironically enough, the process of producing for others is exactly what helped me discover my sound and message as an artist. So, here I am, back at it again!
What is the message behind your art?
That anybody can do anything, overcome any sort of challenge, conquer any trauma. I didn’t exactly set out to speak about so many heavy topics in my music, but it came about naturally because that’s what matters to me as a person.
What are some sources of inspiration for your lyrics and storytelling?
It’s all things I’ve experienced in real life. My song “Girl That Was Perfect” is about an eating disorder I used to struggle with. “Grown Fucking Woman” cheekily addresses a lot of trauma I’ve faced as an immigrant while focusing the message on confidence and positivity. While “Day One” is about my marriage, the ups and downs we’ve been through, from sickness to financial ruin (I’m looking at you, 2008 recession) and the love that carried us through it all. I know it all sounds pretty heavy, but I swear most of these are actually bops haha! Sometimes, I notice people adding my songs to Spotify playlists like “good times” or “Netflix and chill”, and I just laugh because I know they added them based on what they sound like and didn’t actually listen to the lyrics. That’s cool though! Just because I wrote the songs from a certain place, doesn’t mean it’s only intended for people in that similar place. If you wanna jam to me singing about my traumatic past, go for it!
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
My music partner Elli Moore! The new music she’s about to release is mad good, so stay tuned.
All time favorite record?
Bad, Michael Jackson
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
I feel like “2000’s Teen” is a very special record for me because it’s exactly the EP I would’ve wanted to release back in like 2005 if I had been capable of writing/producing at the level I do now back then. Musically, there are a lot of early 2000’s throwback vibes on there, but lyrically it feels pretty modern to me, because it addresses so many mental health issues. Also, I know it’s pretty unusual, but I produced and wrote everything on it by myself. This is the opposite of how I create music for any other artist (usually, we work in teams), but at this moment I do really like creating my artist music by myself and keeping it 100% true to me.
You seem to be fusing several musical genres. What inspires your sound?
Honestly, probably all the work I’ve done as a producer. I’ve written and produced everything, from country to K-pop, and I have an intimate understanding of most of the genres I’ve worked in. I’m not really afraid to throw things together that might seem like a weird combo and see if it works!
What excites you the most about what you do?
I think creating in general is what we humans are all here to do! Music is an exciting way to express yourself. It always allows any emotions I have stuck in my chest to become unstuck. But I also write stories (pitching my first novel currently – yay!) and draw as well. So, it’s just a part of the picture for me.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Oh man, it’s hard to tell. Back in the day, I probably would have had some sort of goal list to share, but the longer I live the longer I realize some of the best things that have happened to me are things I hadn’t planned for. So I’m just keeping an open mind and going with the flow now!
Your style is very original and elaborate. How do you take care of your aesthetics?
Thank you, but I have a stylist and that’s all her! In real life, I’m a proud T-shirt-wearing Zoom potato. But it’s always so fun to play around with clothes, especially when I have somebody who is brilliant at it helping me, like my stylist Ryann Lanel.
What was the most daunting moment in your career so far?
Ooof. So, about six years ago my publisher pitched me to several record labels in Nashville and after getting a few no’s told me I should just give up on being an artist and focus on writing for others. I’d been building up my artist career for 10 years at that point, so, needless to say that felt like a total slap in the face. But, looking back, that was exactly the thing that got me to leave Nashville and move to LA, where I’ve had all of my success so far. Some of the toughest times we face are often our biggest sources of growth!
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don’t stop. It’s so easy to get discouraged in music, or in any industry, for that matter. I think our generation is really trained to crave instant gratification, and when we don’t get it, we get frustrated. I often have to remind myself that things take time, and just because there aren’t immediate results, it doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t worthwhile!
Where do you think the next game changer will be in the music industry and entertainment scene?
AI-based software, for sure!! There are so many areas in studio work that I think could be made easier/ smoother by an AI assistant, like sound search and selection, for example. Let’s just hope they don’t take over the world first!