Alina Simone continues on her trajectory to stardom! She’s a singer/songwriter living in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Kharkov, Ukraine , she came to the U.S. as a young girl – the daughter of political refugees. Raised near Boston, where she graduated from art school, she moved to Austin, Texas where she played solo on Sixth Street. She released her first EP in 2005 (Prettier in the Dark), and her first album in 2007 (Placelessness). She rapidly won praise and critical acclaim for her work.
In 2008, Alina released Crying Out To Me, Beware winning critical acclaim from The New Yorker, BBC’s “The World,” Billboard Magazine, Spin Magazine, New York Magazine, NPR, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and Pitchfork among many others. Her most recent rerlease is Make Your Own Danger. She has shared the stage with artists including Final Fantasy, Loney Dear, Alele Diane, The Dodos, Fiery Furnaces, Castanets, Dead Meadow, The Duchess and the Duke, Franz Ferdinand and many others. She has written a collection of essays about Russia, family and the tragic-comic struggle to make it in indie rock, “You Must Go out and Win”, published this year by the Faber imprint of Farrar, Straus. Finally, you can hear Alina’s music in the current CNN documentary “CNNGo New York”.Alina, it’s great to know you and have the opportunity to introduce you to our readers who might not have had the good fortune to hear your music. You graduated from school in Boston and then on to Austin . How did that happen? Tell us about your Austin experience – we know Sixth Street pretty well at HorizonVU Music. Priceless anecdotes are welcome.
AS: I had just graduated from college and simply applied for a job in Austin because I’d grown up in the north and was sick of the freezing cold. I ended up busking on Sixth Street because I had terrible stage fright. I remember circling the block around the Ruta Maya coffeeshop in my car on open mic night, too afraid to go inside.
Tell us a bit more about our musical development? Where did you get your early inspiration and training?
AS: My earliest inspiration was showtunes and old movies, especially Judy Garland. But when I got a bit older, Sinead O’Connor totally rocked my world. 80’s music was so slick and over-produced; by contrast Sinead’s singing was so raw and wild. She took a lot of risks, musically, which was rare to see represented in the mainstream.
You’ve had what reads as an almost magical rise to success. From the Soviet Union , to Boston , Austin and Brooklyn . You’ve traveled around the world and shared the stage with Final Fantasy, Loney Dear, Alele Diane, The Dodos, Fiery Furnaces, Castanets, Dead Meadow, The Duchess and the Duke, Franz Ferdinand and many others. I could not have been easy. Tell us about a couple of highs, and frankly, some of the lower moments.
AS: Eek! No. No. No. I promise I haven’t had a magical rise to success! Every day is still a struggle. I actually just wrote a book about the low moments, called “You Must Go and Win”. There were a lot of them: dodgy auditions, record deals that fell through, dismal tours…
I think it’s important to remember that independent artists have to do everything on their own initiative: create an album, decide when to release it, organize a tour, etc. Even if they have help organizing these things, the impetus must come from them. Keeping yourself motivated — always — to be a self-starter and build a body of work, even when it feels like no one out there is listening, is one of the hardest things psychologically, about being a musician. It’s very rare that one’s career takes a sudden leap upwards, but it is the incremental work done each day that assures those moments will take place.
I want to get to your book in a minute, but let’s have a look at your fantastic video ” Apocalyptic Lullaby” shot live in Brooklyn!
Terrific! To your book, “You Must Go Out and Win”. It’s a very revealing set of essays tells of your creation. Tell us a bit about the book and what you want the reader to “take away”.
AS: Ah, well, I just answered some of this question above, but basically I try to give a realistic portrait of an artist at the grassroots, DIY level and the crappy jobs, the sketchy apartments, the weird people you have to put up with just to get something accomplished.
We should mention that the book is available at Amazon.com and the link is on the SHOP HorizonVU Music page. Finally, what’s next for
AS: I am currently doing some writing for the New York Times and am working on some other writing projects, including a screenplay. I’d like my next album to be a complete musical departure from the guitar-based music I’ve been making, so for a while I’m just planning to retrench, musically, and spend some time listening, studying and thinking about what I want my new sound to be.
Alina Simone, thank you so very much for your time. We hope that you’ll keep us up-to-date on your work and come to visit us in Paris! We remind readers that they can purchase Alina’s downloads from Make Your Own Danger and her book “You Must Go Out and Win” at SHOP HorizonVU Music. Visit Alina at http://www.alinasimone.com .