Tuesday, 18 August 2015

ON THE RECORD: Supersongstress Alaine sounds off on love, record deals, Rising Stars, and being a grown woman

LUCK BE A LADY: For the renowned singer and fashionista, the 'Heart' still rules.

Hard to believe but it’s been more than 10 years since songbird Alaine Laughton has been thrilling us with her sultry voice and heartfelt/life-affirming tunes about relationships, self-worth, finding and losing love and being in a happy place. Which is an apt description for where she is on her journey today. At 36, the chameleonic singer and fashion-loving jet-setter not only has a terrific third album (Ten of Hearts) on the market, she’s on one of the hottest shows on local TV (Digicel Rising Stars) and has a growing international fanbase, which constantly remind us that her music is reaching the world and touching lives. As it should. And did I mention that she’s just coming off a successful European tour? As she gets to film the video for her latest single, “Don’t Walk Away,” in Los Angeles next week and pen hits for herself and industry colleagues, it’s worth remembering that for the most successful acts of our day – reggae’s finest among them – the work never stops. Here, the superbusy artist and down-to-earth homegirl has a gabfest with TALLAWAH.

TALLAWAH: From day one you’ve been the girl reminding us through song that love conquers all. But inquiring minds want to know: Are you the marrying kind?
Alaine: I believe in being happy with someone that I care about very much, and if marriage becomes a part of that then I’d be grateful. For me, having someone share your future with is wonderful, but being single and successful and happy can be just as fulfilling as well.

TALLAWAH: So what’s the deal, are you currently dating?
Alaine: (Laughs). I’m single. I’m where I want to be. I’ve been in love, been out of love. So I can write and singe about it from an honest place. Right now I’m enjoying being single, independent and just doing my thing.

TALLAWAH: What kind of Jamaican man lights Alaine’s fire?
Alaine: I like a man who can make me laugh. Someone who listens and cares about the things that I like. That’s very sexy to me. I’m used to being strong, very nurturing in my relationships but now I’m looking forward to being with someone with whom I can relax and just feel safe with for a change. And if he can cook, that’s a wonderful thing, as well.

TALLAWAH: “Favourite Boy” of your new album, Ten of Hearts, is such a gem, easily one of your best tunes. How did those lyrics come to you?
Alaine: Jordan from Chimney Records gave me the riddim and when I heard it I immediately started singing, “You’re my favourite boy, you bring so much joy to my world…” And it happens like that all the time. I hear something, and the lyrics and melodies starts to flow. That’s how I know I’m supposed to be doing this. This song just came so effortlessly. It’s a song about how when love comes it can be so incredible.

TALLAWAH: What’s your favourite jam on Ten of Hearts?
Alaine: I love “Sidewalk Hotel”. It’s a very emotional song. And “T.H.I.S”, which is a very heartfelt ballad that was produced by Shane Brown.

TALLAWAH: Your overseas fans, especially in places like Kenya, are not shy about proclaiming their love for you. On your YouTube channel in particular.
Alaine: Mi feel good (Laughs). The first time I went to Kenya it was the biggest shock; about 10,000 people came to the show and they sang every word, every lyric. That’s the biggest blessing. I went back to my hotel room and I bawled and I bawled. I went to Uganda for a concert about two years ago and there were 40,000 there; and 30,000 when I went to Tanzania. Africa loves reggae. And when I have those kinds of experiences it’s a just a jump-up-on-the-bed-and-bawl kinda feeling. It’s just God.

TALLAWAH: The 12th season of Digicel Rising Stars is heating up. Your second season at the judges table. What are you particularly excited about?
Alaine: It’s a better year. We have a better crop of talent. The women have really shown up this year, only two men are left, I believe. The girls are here to win and hopefully when one of them does win they’ll go on and have a vibrant career.

TALLAWAH: What about all about behind-the-scenes drama? Rumour has it that you can’t Anthony and Conroy. Is that true?
Alaine: Yes! They get on my last nerve (Laughs). It’s a great big family, with a very supportive team of producers. We’re friends and we really want the new talents to shine. As successful people in the industry we had someone give us a chance, open doors when we were starting out, and I think it’s so important to pay it forward and encourage the youngsters who are the future generation. Rising Stars is just a fun place to be. A positive energy pervades the set at all times.

TALLAWAH: You’re just coming off tour. Again. How was it this time? What was the highlight for you?
Alaine: We did 16 shows, several countries across Europe. It was hectic. You go to sleep in France, wake up in Germany. But the highlight for me was Summer Jam. I was the only female on the show. Very nervous. But it went well. To have all those people screaming for you makes you realize that this is way, way bigger that you.

TALLAWAH: So Alaine still gets nervous before a show!
Alaine: I want to use the bathroom. I feel anxious. Even you’re rehearsed and well prepared. And then I hear my name called to go on the stage and the crowd starts roaring. And you’re asking yourself, ‘Are they really making all that noise for me? Who is this Alaine?!’

TALLAWAH: Let’s switch gears and talk a bit about the politics of the business. Pop icon Prince reportedly confessed to a journalist recently that being in contract with a record label was a lot “like slavery. I would tell any young artist Don’t sign’”. What are your thoughts on Prince’s revelation? 
Alaine: I had a deal in Japan at one time, and that went okay, but it’s probably not comparable to the kind of contract that Prince is talking about. My belief is that young people coming into this business should know who they are and who they want to be instead of being told who they are or who they should be.

TALLAWAH: You’ve been an independent artiste for a while now. How’s it been flying solo? 
Alaine: It’s expensive. A lot of pressure. I recently became part of the Jukeboxx family, where I’m being managed by Shane Brown. And I like it it’s a nice change. It involves a lot more strategizing and planning. And it works for me.

TALLAWAH: Which is extremely important. So how do you want the rest of your year to play out? 
Alaine: I have to give thanks that I’ve been able to continue pursing my passion for music for so long and still enjoy doing it. For the rest of the year, I just want to be happily surprised. It’s been a great journey so far, but I want more. Lots more happenings, so my music can reach more ears and touch more lives.

> WATCH THIS: Take a look at the video for Alaine’s groovy single “Favourite Boy”

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