Ally Brown: Interview with a « Ukulady » Extraordinaire
Nashville, peaceful place overflowing with talents as numerous as the stars shining bright up high in the sky.
Each one of these stars is unique, and today that one star that caught up our attention is an interesting one: Ally Brown from FIREBREATHrecords.
A cheerful ukulele responding to the echo of the well-gifted Ally Brown’s vibrating voice
A friend, music partner and soulmate Alayna Renae emphasizing these vocals with her background vocals
A skilled cellist, Joshua Dent, contributing a one-of-ind atmosphere, a catchy rythym thanks to the drummer Duane Borba
And a newly Nashville based guitarist, Johnny adding some color to this delicious recipe produced by Ford Heacock, sound engineer.
Wondering how she made all these great connections, Ally answers:
« We all pretty much found each other at The Warehouse open mic. But the first person to really join me was Alayna. […]Then when we went to the back porch for a little jam session. I started playing my songs, Alayna started harmonizing with me, and it was just magical. I felt like she could read my mind. I’m still convinced that she can sometimes.
Then I met Jon. It didn’t take long for us to jam on that back porch too and for him to become part of the band.
As for Joshua Dent, my cellist, he came up to me after one of my sets, said he liked my stuff, gave me his card all official-like and said we should play music together.[…] I was dying to hear what my songs sounded like with cello so I invited him to a bonfire jam I was hosting that weekend.
The only person I didn’t meet at The Warehouse was Duane Borba, the percussionist on the EP. […] He was so good and I got pretty giddy after seeing how many different types of drums and shakers he had. So I asked him to play on the EP and he agreed.
Anyway bottom line is I love my band. I pretty much just show them songs, tell them my ideas, and they run with it. I’m so grateful for them and how they’ve helped make my EP dreams come true. Thanks guys!!! »
Now Ally Brown’s style is similar style to Ingrid Michaelson and Regina Spektor. She could also remind of Kate Nash songwriting’s style, or,Installing mesmerizing atmospheres with the help of Joshua Dent the cellist, her style could also remind of Emiliana Torrini.
Besides that, Ally confides about her actual music inspirations: Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell. I’m just diving into her early stuff now but I’m really starting to enjoy and appreciate her melodies and poetry, not to mention her crazy range. She’s definitely inspiring and I’m excited to explore more of her stuff. Then there are all of the wonderful people I’ve met along my journey and more recently the talented and motivated people I’ve met through FIREBREATH that have truly inspired me to grow not just as an artist but as a person.
Ally Brown EP is digitally being released on May 1st and physically on May 9th.
Ally’s already made good impressions with her single ‘Suburbia‘ with a quite clever songwriting, sometimes quirky and funny, sometimes thoughtful and touching, getting you rewind the track and think.
She even received propositions for movie soundtracks. Asking her what movie she could imagne her music in, she replied quirky romantic movies,
Or something that any that takes you years back right to your tender childhood: Land Before Time:
Talking about her songwriting process, Ally gently reveals:
« When l usually go to write a song I’ll pick a chord progression and then record myself improvising some melodies and lyrics on top of it.
I’ll listen back to the recording, decide what I like, and pretty much play around with the structure like that.
I might have to start changing up my technique though because I think all the recordings are starting to make my computer slow.
But I think a lot of my best stuff emerges from improvisation because to get to that free flow of expression I have to be completely in the moment. I have to let go of judgment and ego, two big culprits that often get in the way of truth.
A lot of ideas also come to me once I start performing a song I’m working on and some fun ideas even come out of mistakes.
Like the time change in What You Do To Me.
I originally wrote the whole song in 4/4 but one day when I was teaching the song to a violinist friend of mine, I don’t know why, but every time I got to the chorus I kept switching the time to 6/8. It was super frustrating but she told me composers did that sort of thing all the time.
So I gave it a chance and it actually ended up working really well for the song. »
Let it be added that What You Do To Me is one the greatest song from the EP.
The way words are pronounced and whispered to express an actual feeling of « suffocating » due to ‘What [One] Does To [Ally] » is really creative.
Then the track called Tigers & Lions confirms is another surprising one, with its rhythm changing suddenly, from folkie slow to rocky fierce.
This tendency to improvisation might be due to the fact that she’s accustomed to the Jam sessions and Open Mic Nights spirit: playing by feeling, feeling the music at its most authentic state.
Indeed, the time she discovered her talent was 4 years ago, at a place called the Warehouse in Tallahassee:
My first time performing at The Warehouse? Oh gosh that must have been something like four years ago now. I probably did covers because I don’t think I had any original songs then. I just remember being nervous and I definitely didn’t expect the big positive reaction I got from the audience when I finished singing. […]
And my most memorable souvenir? The only thing I really have from those days are some old photographs Alayna, my backup vocalist and dear friend, printed out and gave to me as a gift. Those photos always make me smile. But one in particular is my favorite picture of me, Alayna, and Jon on stage. Jon Little being my guitarist. Or Nashville Jonny as we like to call him now. Yup, those were the days. I’ve attached the picture in case you want to use it.
Ally Brown gets back to another live experience: the Experience On Ride To Roots, an experience that gives justice to Nashville, epicentre of Country Music.
The experience is quite unique as it get musicians involved in playing on a bus: « […] The last time we played I got this little Orange amp to plug my uke into which ended up being perfect. Alayna sang with me and our friend Nicholas Wiles joined us on the djembe. I mean we were in charge of entertaining people who were being handed free food and beer. That made our job pretty easy. But we all just had a great time[…]
Last but not least, she’s quite committed in charity initiatives for homeless or veterans. The best illustration is her idea of hand crocheted CD:
She does have a friend teaching how to do this. Donating the extra money to good causes, i gave Ally ideas: « When I asked her what she wanted the money to go toward she said to wounded veterans because some of them really need the help and they deserve it for all of their sacrifices. So that’s how we chose the Wounded Warrior Project. »