Interview with Aaliyah Allah
By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Good day Aaliyah, how are you?
AA: A little overwhelmed with school, but good nonetheless.
DK: Very sorry to hear about that Aaliyah, but I very much appreciate you taking the time to chat with me today! When I saw your submission on ReverbNation, I didn’t notice where you were from and after I heard your beautiful music, I was very excited to learn you’re from Chicago. Were you born here as well?
AA: No, I was born in Kankakee which is about an hour drive south of Chicago. I moved to the suburbs of Chicago at 8 years old, then to the actual city at 10.
DK: So, your musical journey began in 2013, but please tell me about your journey growing up, what was your childhood like?
AA: I grew up with a nice balance of rural and urban environments. My grandparents have 7 acres of land that was filled with trees, chickens, horses, and lots of cats and dogs. We also went camping almost every weekend so I naturally have a love for animals and nature. My mom is who moved me to the city and wanted to expose me to nice restaurants, theatre, and the city life at a young age.
DK: Do you have brothers or sisters? Is anyone in your family musically inclined as well?
AA: Yeah, I have brothers and sisters. My dad is who introduced me to music, there are vhs tapes of him teaching me rhythm at only a few days old. I grew up with him playing with his music equipment, making beats and it really intrigued me. At about 3 years old I told my dad I wanted to make music, which he then sampled me saying and turned it into a beat hahah. My little sister can also sing, she sounds way better than me.
DK: What were some of your first musical inspirations growing up?
AA: Well, I was named after Aaliyah, the R&B Princess, so of course she was a big inspiration. Her soft vocals over unique beat selections are still goals. There was also a lot of Amel Larrieux, India Arie, Goapele, Alicia Keys and Jill Scott being played around the house. A lot of uplifting vibes.
DK: Had you taken any music lessons of any kind?
AA: I’ve taken a few private guitar lessons. I took piano and music theory in high school, but nothing stuck.
DK: Your biography states that your professional career started based off of positive feedback from a song you put out on Soundcloud. Were you not totally sure about becoming an artist?
AA: I’ve always wanted to be an artist, I just never thought it could truly become a reality. The positive feedback from my first song showed me that people liked what I made, and may possibly like it if I made more. It gave me a slight confidence boost.
DK: Was the song ‘Infatuated’? Or ‘Baby’? Both are incredible as far as I am concerned.
AA: Thanks! It was Infatuated.
DK: By the way, congratulations on reaching over 113,000 streams on Spotify, very exciting and well deserved! Tell me about the song.
AA: It took me almost a year to write ‘Baby’. I gave up a few times, but loved the beat so much, I set a deadline to release my EP and forced myself to finish it by that time. The beat put an image in my mind of a perfect, euphoric day with your lover. It felt like soothing shades of blue, so I just tried to put that feeling into words to create the song.
DK: Tell me about your EP ‘Being’, now that it has been out for nearly a year, how do you feel about your work on it? You released it on my birthday, in fact.. How nice!! :-)
AA: Your birthday is July 30th? A leo lol. I planned on released it on my 20th birthday, July 20th 2017 but I’m a huge procrastinator and when I got the mixed versions of the songs back, I hated them and completely re recorded some of them with only a few weeks to spare. I ended up pushing the date back to the 30th to give myself more time. I think there is a nice range of song styles on there. There are some soothing sensual songs, and some more upbeat songs.
DK: Where did you record it?
AA: I recorded some of it in my room and some at the producer, Gus’s home.
DK: Did you have any additional artists join you on the recording of the EP?
AA: Nope, the only other artists on the EP are the producers, Gus Chvany and Dennis Bell.
DK: What would you say is the overall vibe of the album, positive?
AA: I guess you could say that. It overall is a reflection of my personal growth but thinking about the content, most of the songs do have a positive vibe.
DK: What has been the response from fans?
AA: I’ve been amazed at the amount of messages I’ve gotten from people in other states and other countries telling me how much they appreciate my music. It’s really insane, I didn’t expect that.
DK: Have you gotten to play out live much yet?
AA: I’ve gotten to play live a few times, not as much as I would like. I’m excited to hear these songs with a live band. I’ve only gotten to perform with backing tracks so far.
DK: Given your age, have you had any difficulties playing out at any venues?
AA: Nope. One time a venue owner offered me a free drink and I had to tell him I was too young haha. But I’ll be 21 this summer.
DK: What have been some of the more challenging aspects of your career so far?
AA: I’m also a full time college student, so it can become overwhelmingly frustrating to balance creating and school work. It sometimes feels like I have to put music on the back-burner which can be a huge downer. I also wish I had guidance, as of now I do everything on my own and wish I had help to guide me to the next steps.
DK: What have been some of the easiest aspects of your career?
AA: Although it can be frustrating, it is always extremely satisfying to create a song. It’s allows me to have easy access to release my emotions, thoughts, feelings and ideas.
DK: From your instagram, it looks like you have a very close relationship with your mom, is she your biggest fan?
AA: As of late she has been a great motivator. She reminds me that anything I want is tangible, I just need to believe in myself.
DK: Is it safe to say that if anyone wants to connect with you, Instagram is the way for them to go?
AA: I’m active on Instagram and twitter but am more active on Instagram, so yes.
DK: Your look and a lot of your photos make me wonder if you’ve ever done any modeling in addition to being a musician, have you?
AA: I model for my photographer pals. I would love to do it more often, whenever I’m asked to model, I’m down.
DK: Tell me about what you have lined up for 2018, will there be a full length album to look forward to?
AA: I don’t have any specific plans, I’m hoping to create as much new music as possible, shoot some music videos and do more shows in and out of Chicago.
DK: I am hoping that you’ll be performing live a lot this year too, I’d really like to see one of your shows soon. Any shows coming up?
AA: There’s some talk of shows in the works, nothing set in stone yet!
DK: What else would you like to share with our readers today?
AA: I’m just really grateful to be in this position to share my music. It took a lot to get in this space where I feel comfortable enough to share myself with the world. To other people who have experienced or are experiencing self doubt, get rid of those thoughts that hold you back, you can do it! I hope we all grow into beautiful butterflies this year.
DK: Thank you very much for taking the time with me today, I greatly appreciate it!
AA: No problem! Thanks for choosing me to interview.
Biography: Aaliyah Allah is an independent artist from Chicago. Her melodic voice paired with poetic lyrics on top of eclectic production can be described as ethereal. She began her music journey in 2013 when she released a song on to Soundcloud which received much positive feedback, encouraging her to actively pursue her dream of being a musician. She has now released her debut EP titled “Being” on all streaming platforms. Being EP ranges from sensual melodies to disco/house rhythms. Aaliyah has recently gained much attention from her song “Baby” being added to Spotify’s Alternative R&B playlist as well as being added to creative company ‘Future Classics’ Youtube Channel.