Growing up in this digital age is vastly different from generations before. Negative media is a dime a dozen, but when a ray of positivity shines through, we’re drawn like moths. That ray is Alessia Cara, the Canadian-born singer/songwriter topping the charts with her songs like the unapologetic “Here” and our current anthem, “Scars To Your Beautiful.” Her message is clear, don’t give into anyone else’s expectations.
Alessia is currently finishing up touring the US and right before one of of her shows in Texas, she took the time to answer some of our questions. Read on as we chat about female solidarity, her album Know-It-All, and how she deals with social media. Oh, and also potatoes! Read below for more:
Foam: We thought we could start by breaking the ice by acting like we are meeting on Bumble BFF, so can you tell us two truths and a lie, and we would have to guess?
Alessia Cara: Okay, two truths and a lie. I always get this wrong, I always do two lies and a truth. First thing, is that I was a member of the Chest Club in Elementary School, second thing is that my favorite food is potatoes and lastly — I have a good, happy obsession with clowns. I love clowns, they are so…cute.
F: Oh, hmm, it is potatoes? Is that the lie?
AC: Is that your final answer?
F: No, now you made us nervous! Yeah, we’ll make it our final answer.
AC: Wrong. I don’t love clowns.
F: Oh man, that was a good one. Well, now that we have broken the ice, can you give us a little background about your upbringing and how you got into music?
AC: I’ve been singing since forever, but it was kind of a quiet thing. I never really told anybody. Until I was 13, I decided that I wanted to stop being shy about it and I started making YouTube videos and putting my voice out there. When I was 16, a production company called EP Entertainment found one of my videos and started talking to me and working with me. It was my first experience being in the studio and writing my own music professionally, then we started going to different labels and after about a year and a half, Def Jam found me and signed me when I was 18.
F: That’s awesome! We actually read that writing your music came a little bit later and that’s the album you came out with. All the songs you started writing are the songs you are on tour with currently?
AC: Yeah, pretty much. I used to write when I was really young but they were kids’ songs. I wasn’t confident in them, so this album is the first time I ever wrote something professionally with someone and was recorded and produced. So, it’s a big deal.
F: Your voice is really unique. Who has inspired your sound musically?
AC: I listen to a bunch of different people, I love so many different genres of music, but one of my biggest influences is Amy Winehouse. She’s incredible.
F: So, at Foam we tend to have girl crushes and we certainly have one on you.
AC: Aw, thank you!
F: No problem! You’re not someone we have really encountered before in the music industry before, you exude confidence and remain true to who you are by not caving into anyone else’s agenda. What are your thoughts on being a role model to other females?
AC: I guess this question is always hard because a lot of the time my fans or the people supporting my music and me, are the same age as me, if not older. So, seeing myself as a role model for them is kind of strange, but you know, I’m still young. I’m only 20 and I’m still learning about life and I’m still learning about myself, so it’s hard to teach people about life when I’m very much learning. At the same time, if people can look up to who I am right now and if people can look up to what I do with my life, then that’s awesome. I’m glad that I can help them and help shape their views.
F: That actually brings us to I Am That Girl, can you talk a little bit about that?
AC: Of course, I Am That Girl is an awesome organization made by women for women. It’s a place girls can go and get together to talk about pretty much anything. Nothing is taboo and nothing is out of the question, you can discuss any topic that a lot of girls [may] have on their minds or want to talk about. It’s just a curriculum that basically tries to teach girls to not only love themselves, but to love each other, which is so important. It’s awesome, and it’s everything that I am saying right now with my song and my whole career, all I ever wanted to spew out in the world is to embrace yourself as a woman.
F: Right, and that is basically what you wanted “Scars To Your Beautiful” to be about, with your music video?
AC: Yeah, of course. There are males in the video just because I think that beauty goes beyond gender, but I think girls in this day in age are the underdogs, we’re constantly having to prove ourselves. We’re constantly having to overcome these standards and all of these expectations, and this song will hopefully ease some of that. We don’t always have to conform to these expectations, there are so many different kinds of beautiful and we should start embracing all of them instead of trying to change ourselves to fit one standard. It’s important to ourselves, for each other and I hope people can take something positive from what I am saying.
F: And that is why you are our girl crush. You’re currently on your nationwide Know-It-All tour, and when you sing your song, “Four Pink Walls”, do you ever get caught in the moment?
AC: Absolutely. That song I wrote on a ukulele and I really didn’t know what it was going to end up as. So, just the fact that they [fans] are singing the lyrics alone, is incredible. But then, what they are singing is almost ironic, they are all singing about me being in my room, wishing people would be singing my songs one day. It’s a very crazy sort of a full circle thing. It’s really amazing.
F: What is no longer easy for you to do in life? What do you miss?
AC: I miss being at home and just being Alessia. For most of the day now. I’m Alessia Cara, and it’s just like with any job, of course, this job is not a normal job. It’s so fulfilling and amazing, but some days you just wake up and go, I just want to be Alessia. However, this job always overpowers any negative that I am feeling.
F: What has been the raddest experience in just your last year?
AC: Wow, honestly there have been so many. That’s a good question. I would honestly say, winning a Juno Award was a big deal for me. Just for many reasons, I am Canadian and it’s a huge Canadian Award and it is great to be recognized. It made me really proud to be Canadian, and proud to be a new artist of out of Canada and for it to happen so early in my career meant a lot to me.
F: People also try to say that you’re antisocial, just because of the lyrics in “Here”, which we don’t think is necessarily true. Would you think of yourself more as an extroverted introvert?
AC: You know what, probably yeah. I think that is a great way to put it. I guess you have to a bit of an extroverted person to be doing this job because you’re constantly putting your emotions out there on stage and out into the world. I am extroverted by what I choose to show, but at the same time, I am a private person and I am shy in some situations. There are moments when I am just kind of keeping to myself so it’s a bit of both. That’s definitely a good way to put it.
F: That’s a charm about you, a lot of people feel that way and it’s reassuring to know that you feel that way. So, how do you handle social media?
AC: Oh my Gosh, it’s always a bit different every day. Some days, I love it and other days I absolutely hate it and try to stay away from it. It’s hard to handle because people can get reckless on there and they basically are different people when they are on social media. People tend to think that once on social media, you can say whatever you want to people and that’s not true. Sometimes it can get a bit too much. It’s great to communicate with people that I care about and the people that care about me, and to say thank you to the fans, but at the same time it’s only good in doses. It can kind of consume you for the wrong reasons, and it’s not fun anymore after a while.
F: What message do you want your fans to walk away with after listening to your music or seeing your show?
AC: I mean, as long as they feel something, then that’s great. I just want them to feel something, whether it be a new perspective or maybe a new feeling. There is nothing worse than having someone see your show and just be like, eh, that was okay. I just want them to have a new perspective, or something, I would be satisfied with that.
F: After the tour is over, what’s next?
AC: I’ll be doing a lot of radio Christmas related shows and then in January I am hoping to take some time off, I haven’t had that in two years, so that I am really happy about. It probably won’t even end up being time off, I’ll be writing, but at least I’ll be at home and resting a bit. Hopefully after that, I can get back in the studio, and make some new songs!