Music flows through Allison Wiess’s veins. She grew up besotted with music, and chose to study at the University of Georgia primarily to be part of the amazing live music scene in the city. She’s flown under the radar of many musos as she built up a loyal fanbase, whose commitment to the infectious star is proven in several successful Kickstarter campaigns, and now she’s coming to Scotland.
Hi Allison, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! We love the new album, where do you get all your energy from??
Ha! I don’t know, really! I guess I’m the kind of person that thrives on productivity… which makes me sound like a robot. I assure you, I get super tired at the end of the day just like everyone else. I get overwhelmed and stressed out and feel like shutting down, but I always push through. I eat a lot of bananas. They’re full of energy.
What drives you as a musician?
I’m a songwriter over everything else. I am always trying to write the best songs I possibly can. Art and music are how we as human beings express extremely complicated inexplicable emotions. If I can figure out how to put any of those emotions into a song, I’m on top of the world.
Which bands, genres and sounds have inspired and influenced you?
I grew up listening to such a variety of music, but I’ve always been drawn to pop. I’m not talking stylistically, I’m referring to the songwriting style. Catchy verse chorus verse chorus stuff. I’ve always loved any song that’s full of undeniable hooks and honest straightforward lyrics. That said, I love a lot of noisy stuff too. I didn’t understand Bikini Kill until I’d just gone through a big breakup and all I wanted to do was be mad all the time. Then I got it. There’s a time and a place for everything.
You’re now signed with SideOneDummy Records: what made you sign up, and is a part of you sad to be leaving Kickstarter, and that close connection with your fans, behind?
Whoa there! I don’t think leaving Kickstarter is any indication of losing a close connection with the folks who love my music. Neither is signing with SideOneDummy. In fact, I signed with them because they are some of the kindest most down-to-earth people out there. They’re a bigger label that operates with the DIY ethics that I grew up on. I will always be looking for new ways to include my fans in the stuff I’m doing. I don’t ever want to lose that closeness.
You took part in the It Gets Better campaign five years ago (great job on the video), do you think the world’s in a better place when it comes to being open about sexuality?
We’re definitely getting there. The United States is finally catching up the countries that passed marriage equality laws long ago, but you can still be fired from your job in the majority of US states for being out. As far as the world goes, it feels like we’re still pretty far behind. Marriage equality is still nonexistent in Australia, and there are large parts of the world where coming out will get you killed. It’s a constant fight, I’m not sure I’ll live to see the day when the gay community is completely accepted, but I hope my kids will.
You’re coming over to the UK on tour in February, what are you looking forward to most?
I’m touring with one of my best friends, Jenny Owen Youngs. She played a huge part in my choosing to pursue music, and my coming out, so it’s always a true honor to share the stage with her. It’s gonna be like 10 days of a BFF slumber party but we play songs for you every night.
Here in Glasgow we’re proud of our big independent music scene, how important have local, indie scenes been to you as a musician?
My time spent in Athens, GA really shaped me as a songwriter and performer. I went to school there, but I picked it because of the music scene. There were something like 500 bands in this small town, so many that we had our own festival every summer with only Athens bands that drew a couple thousand people at least. After that, I moved to Brooklyn and fell in with a group of songwriters who are still some of my best friends to this day. Our little scene was full of the most talented folks I know. Being an environment like that pushed me to always work hard to be as good as they were.
Are there any independent artists you’re tipping for the big time at the moment?
Check out Kid In The Attic. I toured with them last fall and I’m just waiting for the world to catch on.
Finally, any tips for the aspiring musicians in our audience?
If your end goal is fame or money, then you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Don’t stop writing, don’t stop playing, always follow your heart.
Allison’s album New Love is out now, and she’ll be playing Glasgow’s King Tut’s on the 18th February.