#PopularPlay: Alina Smith
Aug 28, 2020
The queen is back and we are #DEADINSIDE!
After a 5 years hiatus, Alina Smith just released her new single TODAY and we just can’t stop listening (How did the world survive without your talent for 5 years, Alina???)
Called “Girl That Was Perfect” the song is a powerful autobiographical track that follows Alina’s journey towards “developing a healthy mindset of authenticity and speaking her truth” and explores difficult themes of societal pressures, body image, and personal reckoning.
During her break, Alina had the opportunity to work as a producer for artists like Gabbie Hanna, Niki and Gabi, Betty Who and Fall Out Boy, and she also created a podcast called “Crossover Creative” (which you can listen by clicking on the name Xx) Well, in other words, Alina did a bunch of creative and cool stuff that puts her in a place of “The Creation Queen” <3
1. Tell us about “Girl That Was Perfect” and the inspiration behind the song.
The first thing you should know about “Girl That Was Perfect” is that I really didn’t want to write it. Or any other song for myself. I used to be an artist in my teens and twenties, but around 28 I decided to switch focus to producing and writing music for others. For me, there was a lot of trauma around the idea of putting out my own music (more on that later), and I didn’t think I was ever going to come back to it.
For about five years after, I really enjoyed creating other artists’ sounds. And, if something inside me did whisper that expressing other people’s stories and never my own wasn’t fully fulfilling for me, that part was mostly drowned out. It wasn’t until my life coach suggested I explore writing some music for myself for fun, without any plan to release it, that I decided: “What the hell!” I sat down with my guitar one night and boom: “Girl That Was Perfect” was there waiting. I still don’t know exactly why the topic of body positivity was the first thing to come up. I just remember sitting on that couch, writing, and sobbing. The moment it was done, I had this feeling like, “Oh no, I’m gonna have to put this out now, won’t I?”
2. This song is your first single in over 5 years. What changed in your music from then to now?
When I hung up the artist towel, I thought I was hanging it up for good. I had been an artist for about a decade at that point, and the physical and emotional toll was really catching up with me. I had gotten vocal nodules five times in my twenties, and my voice was exhausted. On top of that, I felt totally lost as to who I was as an artist. In ten years, I had jumped from R&B to pop, to country. Looking back at it now, I realize I wrote the music I thought would please others – the industry, fans, whoever – and never asked myself what I truly wanted to express.
Being a producer in my team LYRE, which I’ve formed with my best friend Elli Moore, forced me to learn so much: how to produce different genres, how to draw the best performances from artists, how to infuse the authenticity of those artists’ stories into their music. So, when I was producing “Girl That Was Perfect”, I used many of the same techniques. Making sure my voice sounded like the best version of my own, not someone else’s, making sure the instrumentation I built got a visceral reaction from my soul, like, “Yeah, that’s it!” It’s amazing how easy it was to pin down a sound compared to five years ago. I guess, nothing beats experience.
3. What should your fans expect from this new “Alina Smith Era”?
All the songs I’m planning to release are tied together by a theme of overcoming challenges, particularly internal ones. “Girl That Was Perfect” is about learning to love my body, regardless of how it looks. Another upcoming single tackle the issue of something called “masking”: a process, where a person hides their true identity in order to fit in – something I did a lot throughout my twenties. Musically, I pull a lot from R&B and pop, which are genres closest to my heart. There is a lot of pianos, which is my first instrument, and a heaping of hard-knocking drums, which is a sound I’ve developed while producing in LYRE. All in all, you’ll get a musical and lyrical hodgepodge of the last fifteen years of my life!
4. You have co-written and produced many chart-topping songs. What is the biggest challenge in this industry nowadays and what would you say to someone who is starting now?
Everyone comes into this with their own unique set of challenges, which is why there’s no reliable success formula. I would break the challenges down into two categories: external and internal. For me, the hardest external challenge was finding a way to enter the industry. I came from a different country and didn’t know anyone in the US at all, much less in the industry, so it took years and years to get to a point where I could get any sort of traction.
Still, internal challenges can be harder and more insidious. I think a lot of artists would agree that it’s easy to compare yourself to others in the industry and feel devalued when you don’t have the X, Y, or Z thing that they have. This is why I put such heavy emphasis on self-love and self-acceptance in my music and life in general. If you’re just starting out, know: you will face challenges, but you will always surmount those challenges when you remember that you’re worth your goals.
5. Let’s talk about your podcast “ Crossover Creative ”, which explores the processes, challenges, and joys of being a multi-hyphenate artist. How did this idea come up?
When I was seven, my mom took me to a psychic. I remember her asking the woman what I should be focusing on out of the different arts I was studying: music, writing, or art? I don’t remember the psychic’s answer, but I do remember feeling like there was something wrong with me because I was doing more than one thing. Well, fast forward 25 years, and I never did pick that one perfect pursuit. My interest in drawing has transformed into me creating merch and cover art for my best friend Elli Moore’s art project. My passion for writing had led me to become a songwriter. And my work as a music producer in the digital creator space has brought me to start writing my novel “Influencer” (currently in the editing stage.)
The point is: the various pursuits of a multi-hyphenate artist feed each other in beautiful harmony. On my podcast, I discuss this very topic in solo episodes, and in those where I interview others with multi-potentiality. It’s given me so much joy to see my theory proven over and over again: that being a Crossover Creative is not something to be afraid of, but celebrated and embraced.
6. You are a multi-tasking woman, so I believe you never stop. What is the secret to always working and not overstressing? Tell us about your plans and what is coming next in your career
The secret is to know yourself and what balances you the most. For me, meditation is key, as is making time for exercise, making sure I take time to connect with nature, and eating healthfully. Also, sometimes you’ll straight up to catch me in the bathtub in the middle of the day, answering emails lol. The water really helps calm me. In the interest of full transparency, this is not always easy, and I’m still working on it every day!
As to what’s next, I’m very excited about a video series I’ve created for YouTube, where you can watch the process of me producing “Girl That Was Perfect.” You can see some of the songwriting processes, how I’ve crafted the track, as well as all my blunders! I hope it will be helpful to aspiring writers and producers.
Also, my partner in LYRE, Elli Moore is releasing some music we’ve written and produced together, so that’s gotten me really stoked. And I can’t wait to post some of the new interviews I’ve been recording for Crossover Creative. My guests have been dropping so much wisdom, I know it will inspire the other Crossover Creatives out there!
Well, now that you know everything about Alina, please go listen to “Girl That Was Perfect” and follow her on Instagram.