Alice D is the Prolific Songwriter We Need

Friday 07 December 2018

Alice D was always meant to become an artist, whether she knew it or not. Armed with a slew of prolific songs, the singer has been surrounded by music since birth — she is the daughter of Sara Dalin (singer-songwriter of Bananarama) and Bassey Walker (dancer for, among many, Michael Jackson and Tina Turner and singer-songwriter of TRI). The budding, London-based, singer-songwriter has since blown critics (and us) out of the water with her RnB and soul induced vocals. Fresh off the release of her new single, ‘I Don’t Owe You’, the emerging artist is forging her own path her own way — and it is incredibly refreshing.

Instead of taking shortcuts, Alice D has done it all the old-fashioned way: by releasing music independently and making it, quite simply, good. Starting out recording songs in her friend’s bedroom, she soon moved up to being a force-to-be-reckoned-with vocalist. Collaborating frequently with her friend Oscar Scheller, they’ve recently worked together on her new five-track EP ‘NARCISSUS’ which details the frustration one feels when dealing with anxiety in a relationship. 

We could not be more excited for Alice D and the path she is about to embark on; so, we’ve talked to the artist about her creative process, new releases and whether she thought music was always for her. 

What is your first memory of music?

My first memory is all things Michael Jackson / Jackson 5. My dad is a super fan & there was this biographical video I used to watch constantly with him growing up. I think my first CD I ever owned when I was about 8 was ‘The Jackson 5 Greatest Hits.’

You’re in a very musically-orientated family, so did music always come naturally to you?

I’ve always loved music & it has been a constant in my life, which is why I think it does come naturally to me. My parents are both really creative & have always encouraged that in me.

I grew up in a household exposed to lots of different genres of music. I’ve grown up watching my Mum perform or been at the kitchen table with her whilst she’s been writing songs, intently observing how a song was written. My dad is a great dancer & songwriter. I actually wrote my first song with him when I was 11. He had a small studio set-up and from an early age I loved the whole writing and recording process. I’ve always had a special connection with music & find tranquillity in just sitting in my room listening to or writing music. As cliché as it sounds, it is my therapy. 

Was there ever a time in your life where you thought music is not what you want to do with your life?

Not really no…I’ve always been in choirs, plays/musicals and taken part in singing concerts while at school and loved it. 

I went to University and studied History of Art. I loved my course but after graduating it was a difficult and confusing time trying to work out your place in the world. However, I always knew that music was my passion & something I needed to pursue. 

Doing music independently is hard work and there have definitely been moments where I have questioned my path but I truly believe in myself & know that making music is what I am meant to be doing. Despite the twists and turns of life, I always go back to it so it must be a sign!

Besides your parents, what other artists have had an effect on you and why?

The late greats! Michael Jackson as I mentioned before was my first real taste of music. My parents loved Whitney Houston and Prince and their albums were often played ’round the house. 

I absolutely adore Brandy- her tone, her lyrics, her adlibs- everything is completely effortless. When I was younger I remember playing her albums ‘Never Say Never’ and ‘Afrodisiac’ on my CD Walkman on repeat acting out the songs in front of the mirror. Mariah Carey’s album ‘Butterfly’ was the soundtrack to my childhood and Aaliyah has also always been special to me. She has so many timeless songs that I still play to this day. Currently, I love the artist Kelela, with her futuristic RnB sound and her look that’s so fresh and unique. Her albums ‘Cut 4 Me’ and ‘Take Me Apart,’ are genius.

You’ve been recording with your friend, musician and producer Oscar Scheller for a while, how has it been working with him on your tracks?

I’ve known Oscar since I was 14 and working with him never feels like ‘work.’ Oscar is so talented & I feel completely at ease writing with him. Creating this whole EP together was so much fun as we vibe so well together. He really listened to what I wanted and we built each track from scratch, which is the part of the process that I love. Each song is totally different but still has this overall collective sound. 

We first wrote together in our late teens, recording in Oscar’s bedroom. To come back ’round with more experience under both our belts and collaborate on this project together has been amazing! I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved.  

The single ‘I Don’t Owe You’ has this profound, delicate sound, what is the message behind the song?

I wrote this song with Eddie Jenkins, who’s a brilliant song-writer and pianist. He was actually introduced to me through Oscar! I had a clear idea of what sort of sound I wanted and we made the whole track from scratch and he even played keys on it. This song will always mean a lot to me as it’s the first song I felt truly represented me as an artist. 

Instead of creating an angry break-up song, I wanted the protagonist to come across as totally empowered and in control of their situation. Simply dismissing the other person with the words ‘I Don’t Owe You,’ (anything) anymore. I like to think of it as this cool, calm & collected anthem for anyone who’s ever been in a toxic relationship. If someone isn’t treating you right you don’t owe them a thing!

What does your creative process look like when writing and producing?

Most of the time I’m either on my bed or at my kitchen table with my notepad and pen out- I must have at least 10 notepads full of scribbles from over the years! I find a lot of Youtube instrumentals & write over them and work out melodies. There’s so many songs on my laptop and snippets of ideas. I normally have the chorus/catchy hook down first and work my way around it.

For me, it is also crucial that I connect with the music on some level as then the lyrics flow easily. As I’ve mentioned, I love creating songs from scratch with a producer so they feel really authentic. There’s nothing worse than being given music & trying to come up with something that you just don’t feel anything towards. I primarily write about my own life experiences & if I’ve ever felt a particularly strong emotion, it’s therapeutic to just sit alone, take a pen and let it all out. 

What was it like filming and creating your music video with your friends?

I have a fantastic group of girlfriends and was so grateful to them to take time out of their own busy schedules to help bring my first video to life. We crowdfunded the video so it made the project that extra special. Everyone brought their own skills and talents to the table- one of my friends is a fashion designer so we used her collection & she styled the video whilst the other wrote the concept & directed it. As the girls do this as their day jobs it was all very professional, up at 5am and into hair and make up! It was a great experience. 

The track has received amazing support from the likes of Gary Crowley and BBC 1xtra, how has that made you feel?

To hear your song on the radio is magical. You’re used to only hearing it through your headphones after a session, so hearing it full blast and knowing that others are listening too is surreal! A feeling I could get used to.

Do you have any new projects coming up?

My main focus at the moment is releasing my EP that I’ve worked so hard on all year & releasing the video for the single ‘More 2 U,’ which I shot with my friend (who also filmed ‘I Don’t Owe You’) & her boyfriend. I’m always writing, so more music is definitely on the horizon!

Finally, where do you hope to be this time next year? 

I’d love to have my own proper band & be doing lots of live (hopefully sold out) shows! You can’t beat a live band and the atmosphere it creates. Working towards an album would also be a dream of mine and collaborating with more talented writers & producers.