Posted by Guest
| December 9th, 2012 | Filed under Music
Photos by Neil DaCosta
In this three-part blog series, Bowen Ames—our moonlighting Art Director—profiles three unique artists who use an unconventional approach to sustainability to live their art every day. In our first installment, Bowen interviews songstress Alela Diane who details her process of writing and producing her first independent album after years of being confined to a music label.
Alela Diane is a seasoned a musician. Her music reflects her relationships and a deep connection to her forested home in Northern California. Her listeners, new and old, have always found the stark honesty of her voice incredibly striking. “I’ve always been my most honest in my song-writing,” remarks Alela. “When you write music from an honest place, people respond to it in heartfelt ways, “ she said. But recently, when faced with major changes in her personal and professional life, Alela made a surprising discovery; her songwriting held the key to the changes she needed to make in order for her life and her creative process to be more sustainable.
It was a process that culminated with her last album, Alela Diane & The Wild Divine, which featured her then husband and collaborator Tom Bevitori as well as her father, Tom Menig and was backed by a full band. The recording process, guided by a producer through her label Rough Trade, brought with it a new sound, energy and image. They went on tour across the US and Europe and opened for The Fleet Foxes. But it was a distinct change from her earlier solo-work. For Alela, she was no longer just a girl with a guitar.
While on tour in Europe, Alela began writing songs for her new album. She noticed that her songs were returning to their original confessional nature, and she was surprised to find she had a deep dissatisfaction with her life. “After I had written this new collection of songs, it became clear that I had to make changes in my life. The work itself told me what I needed to do.” she said. She knew she couldn’t just grin and bear it. If she did, it would mean a dwindling love for the music that sustained her. So Alela filed for divorce and turned to her friends and family for support as she underwent one of her hardest transitions.
This is when Alela began to think about building a future with music that sustained her. She decided to produce and record the album herself, this time employing her own intrinsic sense of what each song needed. She met with respected musicians for their input on her music rather than a producer or label. The album, tentatively titled About Farewell, features some of Alela’s finest work and offers the same stark realism with which she approached the passing year.
“All of these songs are about shifts in my life and how I’ve worked through them,” she said. “Oftentimes my songs inform me of what I need to do. When that’s the case, I feel obliged to listen.”