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by Jay S. Jacobs
©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
April 24, 2006.
not easy to break into the music business. However, only a year into
her singing career, Alyssa Jacey is making some serious headway.
Taking the opposite direction of most music
stories, Jacey has really started to blossom
since she moved back home to San Diego after a
period spent in Los Angeles. Living in LA, she
was determined to be a dancer.
She had found some success at it – appearing in videos and
the Super Bowl halftime show – but she wasn’t happy with the lifestyle
and eventually went home to regroup. It was there
that she was convinced that her singing hobby could
actually become a career.
Jacey threw herself into her music completely and
the past year, she has independently released the EPs
and The Soul and
the album Closed Eyes Open Heart. Jacey also co-wrote and
recorded a duet on an upcoming album by friend and
frequent collaborator Mitch
Budd. She has a live album and a full length CD ready to drop in
upcoming months. She is also currently scouring the San
Diego music scene to put together members of a full-time band.
Jacey took a little time out of her Easter Sunday to chat with us about
her music and her big plans.
You started out in choreography and dancing, and moved to LA to try and
become a dancer. You had some success, doing music videos, even the
Super Bowl halftime show. Yet I saw in an interview where you said that
was a real low point in your life. Why do you feel that?
You know, when I moved to LA, I had
really high expectations. [However,] I’d heard rumors
about the city sucking you in and whatnot and
[eventually] I just realized how hard
it was to actually make it in any way. Not even as a dancer or a singer
but as anything. I was working a job as a hostess. I was also working
a job as a cocktail waitress. I was also teaching dance. All of those
things – sort of made it difficult for me to just live.
I was struggling. I had to ask my family for money to help me out.
That made it difficult because I hate doing that. I don’t do that.
How did you decide to move over to the singing side of the business?
I started when I
was cocktailing there. The place that I worked at, called Gotham Hall,
they had karaoke every Wednesday night. My friends had heard me in the
car singing to myself and they kind of mentioned to maybe follow it.
But I was like, oh you guys are silly. I want to be a dancer, I can’t
sing. And [then] my job was like, “hey listen, why don’t you try a song
for us tonight.” They kind of really had to push me, because I was
never into karaoke (laughs).
I’d never gotten up and sang before anyone before. So I started doing
that and from the first Wednesday the entire restaurant – people that I
worked with – were like, “okay, you have to do this every Wednesday
night.” After karaoke, it was all beautiful from there. As soon as I
moved home from LA, I started doing karaoke here in San Diego and I
would be approached after songs that I’d sing – if I was professional,
did I have CDs? Where can they see me sing again? So finally I was
like, that’s it, I have to do something about it. So, I kind of made
a dancer you worked mostly in hip-hop, but musically you tend to be more
folk, rock and soul areas. Was this the sound you have always really
I don’t really agree with that,
actually, folk rock. I’ve always been into the kind of music I’m
singing now, but when I began I was so confused about what genre I
wanted to go for, because people are hearing me said I sounded like I
was doing country. I sounded like I was doing pop. I was doing soul.
Bluesy. I was like, oh my gosh, what genre am I going to be? Because I
know no label is going to sign me if I’m, you know, eight different
genres… (laughs) So when I
started, my first two recordings, the Alyssa Jacey
EP and Closed Eyes Open Heart,
those tend to be more towards the
pop-country vibe. After I started teaching myself guitar six months
ago, I changed. My voice has grown and I changed my style of music.
Now, I’m definitely, I call it pop soul.
As well as the choreography, you have done some work as an actress and
model. How do you think all these experiences help you as a performer?
Are you going to continue acting and dancing as well as doing your
To answer your first question about if
it’s helped me – definitely. I’ve been on stage dancing since I was
four and a half. I’ve been modeling since I was about six. I’ve been
acting since probably junior high school.
All the way through high
school and through college. So, all those things I’ve been doing up
until I started my singing career – I really did make the decision to
stop doing everything else other than school and just go 110% into my
music career. I’m really glad I did that, because it’s really showing.
That I put so much time and effort into it. Showing improvement. I’m
getting a lot of good feedback. I feel like my career has grown a lot
faster than any typical career would, because I’ve been able to put so
much time and effort into it.
Your CD and EPs were all independently released. Do you want to
eventually sign with a major label or would you like to try and make it
as an indie artist like Ani DiFranco?
I have been putting in some thought
about it lately. I haven’t fully decided about that, but I’m the kind
of person that always wants to reach for the stars and keep reaching
beyond them. A major record label is definitely what I’m aiming for.
Not to say I would be upset if I did end up signing with an indie, but
I’m aiming for major.
have an old friend, Tristan Prettyman, who released a major
label album in the past year. Did her success help inspire you that it
Oh definitely. It made it more than
obvious that – you know, she and I went to high school together and she
played a lot of the same venues that I’m playing now and seeing her
success definitely does show – she made it and others can make it, you
just have to put your heart and soul into it and you can do it.
I really like “Understand?” It seems particularly trenchant these days
with the lack of tolerance in the world. Do you think a song can help
people to recognize that the problems and the bigger pictures in life?
Exactly. I was hoping that you would
say something like that, because that’s the reason that I wrote that
song. I’m glad that you mentioned it. At one of my shows about a month
ago, a woman came up to me after I sang that song and she was crying.
She was like, “you really touched me with that song. I felt like you
had picked me out of the entire room and sang that song directly to
me.” That made me start crying, because that’s the reason that I do
what I do. (laughs)
“Beer and Wine” is about the dangers of drinking and driving. Was there
a particular situation that happened to you that made you want to write
Yes. When I was living in LA I was in
the car while my friend was being pulled over. She ended up getting a
DUI. She and I are best friends and we did everything together and I
decided to go support her at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving talk. I
heard this black mother speak about her children who had been killed in
a drunk driving accident. I went straight to work and I
just started writing and this song came out of me in about ten minutes.
In your songs, when the songs turn to love, the songs tended to be about
relationships that were in trouble like “Prove Me Wrong,” “How Did You
Say Goodbye?” and “Love and Hate.” And yet others like “Sunset Blue”
and “The Longest Kiss” are happier. As a songwriter, do you find
troubled relationships more interesting than happy ones?
I wouldn’t use the word interesting. I
would use easier to write about and more inspiring. Because, you know,
happy relationships – yeah, you want to write about them.
But I feel I’m
more of an emotional writer and the stronger emotion comes from – I
guess you could use the word troubled or hurtful or whatever is going
on. Miscommunication or whatnot. It is a little easier for me to
connect with it I guess with relationships that aren’t going as well as
the ones that are.
In “The Longest Kiss,” there was a line you wrote that kind of stood out
to me. You say “The longer we wait, the more time we waste.” Does that
line sort of reflect the way you feel and live your life?
Definitely. 100%. We’re on this Earth
for such a short amount of time. I really hope that everyone can find
their passion as I have. It’s
exactly how I live my life. The longer you wait, the more time you
waste. I’m thinking the longer I would wait, for example about putting
off this interview until next week – no, I want to do it today! I would
put anything aside to do whatever it takes to get to where I want to go.
Which of your songs do you feel says the most about you?
Okay I like this question. Says the most about me. I haven’t written a
song that is actually me. It’s been me in situations, like “Beer and
Wine” or “The Longest Kiss,” in a relationship.
You know, I
can’t even answer that. I don’t know. They all have a piece of me.
I’m connected in all of them in such a way that I can’t really choose
You’ve been singing for a long time, but you’ve just recently learned to
play the guitar. How hard was that to pick up?
This is what I tell people, because they’re
shocked when they see me out playing guitar and I’ve only been playing
for a certain amount of time. I played my first forty minute show
at Canes in San Diego by myself after just three months of playing.
I really, truly believe that if anyone has the time that I had to put
into playing guitar, if they’ve got the rhythm background, or whatever
they’re going through to be a musician – you can do it. Anyone can
do it if they put their mind to it and don’t put it off. It was
hard at first, but I was so dedicated and so inspired and ready to take
over because this is my career and I want to do it. So I forced
myself and it turned out to be so much fun. It just comes easier
and easier the more I practice.
I’ve seen in a few of the articles you are referred to as determined and
motivated, and I certainly know that firsthand. As someone just
starting out do you feel like you have to work that much harder just to
definitely think so. I think any suggestion that – people are asking
me, “how are you this far along? You’ve been singing for a little over
a year now. Your guitar is six months. How are you getting articles
written and all this press and all these shows?” Really, all it is is
exactly what the hype is all about. You have to be ambitious. Never
let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Because I have been told that
before. I just can’t listen to anyone else.
like some of the covers you do in concert and have on your site, like
“You Were Meant For Me,” “Give Me One Reason” and “Time After Time.”
What makes you choose a song to cover? What are some other songs you
perform by other artists?
first, when I first started singing, I thought the covers that I did
would just be best suited for my voice. So, my first cover song – the
first song I sang at karaoke at Wednesday night in LA was “Life Goes On”
by Leann Rimes. Again, back then I was pop-country interested. So I
would do that pop-country song. Then “Time After Time,” Cyndi Lauper
has a beautiful voice. That song is timeless. I wanted to do covers
that people also could maybe sing back with me, because I’m all about
connecting with the audience. I like that a lot, having people be able
to sing back to me.
Nowadays musicians have so many more ways to reach out to their fans,
your official site, your MySpace page, your guestbook. What is it like
being able to communicate with the fans like that?
Incredible. MySpace is one of the best things that has happened to me
as an artist. I get contacted by people all over the United States.
All over the world. I mean, Canada and Japan… I’m getting emails from
them saying they love my music. The person in Canada bought my CD.
It’s a great way to reach out to fans across the world and get their
opinions. I mean it’s crazy to hear the kind of opinions – not too
different from California but people you do hear from across the world,
they tend to choose different songs than people here and I like that.
In the end, how would you like people to see your music?
real. My lyrics are not made up. They come straight from my heart.
The main thing that I want people to look at in my music is not my voice
and it’s not the music itself, it’s the lyrics. I really, really love
to write and I really look up to people, other artists who can write.
So I want people to look at the lyrics the most.
CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT
ALYSSA JACEY HAD TO SAY TO US IN 2010!