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In conversation with Aluna

The outcasts have found each other”

Okay. Its time to get ready! Aluna has entered the zoom call, and we couldn’t be happier. Upon hearing her newest work, I couldn’t wait to chat with the woman herself about her beautiful creations and the thoughts behind them. This British-born, LA-based artist has positioned herself on the throne of the global dance community, singing her way to the top as well as empowering others to follow her lead.  Aluna stands tall, with her community, making sure “black people know that the genre of Dance is their heritage and they should feel included and encouraged to create under that banner by expanding the genre to be culturally and racially inclusive”, within her open letter. Her album RENAISSANCE out now! Check it out and check into our beloved convo with the one and only Aluna.

Hey Aluna, how are you doing today?

I’m fine! Just jumped out of a vocal lesson and now I’m going to pre-production-slash-rehearsals. 

That’s a pretty full-on day!

Yeah, it’s weird because you do all the stuff for a live show and then the show itself isn’t live. 

Yeah, I was gonna say, it’s kind of a crazy time right now, especially to be doing new work and getting back on the road you know. Has it been a bit surreal for you?

It’s just like a learning curve. I’m trying to provide an enriching, uplifting experience through a medium that I’m not used to providing that through. So you have to come up with different types of ideas.

For sure, I think it’s making the whole world a bit more innovative in different ways. And those who aren’t on-board are getting a little bit left behind. 

Right, exactly.

So you’ve just released your new single. Could you tell me a little bit about it?

“Envious” is set in a world that has many different cultures clashing together in harmony, yet the different dramas we experience are so often the same. Since so many people get consumed by envy, I wanted to create a song where the protagonist is owning their envy. 

“Clashing in harmony” is a very accurate oxymoron to portray the song and the world that it’s been released into. It’s like we’re all kind of clashing, but in this very unique moment, we’re all on the same path. 

Yeah! That is what I meant. 

It’s a very beautiful single. Was there one particular story behind it, or was it based more on a general atmospheric feeling? 

Lyric-wise, it’s not about my personal experience but that of an observer. When you watch your friends go through lover’s tiffs you get a different perspective than you had with your own. I’m using my empathy to understand how someone feels when they’re getting envious. 

How did the song progress in production?

It had this really epic journey. I was really curious about pushing production in opposition to the angst of the lyrics. I was sure there was a way to create this contrast where they clash in harmony, but it was just clashing for ages. It went through lots of incarnations (and died many deaths). On the final attempt, we finished it until the point where it is now. I haven’t done a song like this before, where lots of different people have sprinkled their magic on it. It felt very wild!

That’s kind of nice though, to let that creativity explode. 

Yeah, it created such energy around it.

It’s great to see you being the empowered woman within the word envious, which is often so cast on women negatively. Was this something intentional?

Absolutely, because there are people that prey on others’ weaknesses, I thought it would be interesting to juxtapose empowerment with weakness. 

And why do songs lend you that kind of emotional expression?

I often do that in songs because they carry an aspirational tone to them, one that is harder to achieve just in your daily life. For those three minutes, you can remain suspended in that ideal sentiment or emotion. 

The fashion in the video is also stunning. Was this also important in the creative direction? 

Yeah, for this record fashion had a main role in telling the story. For the rave scene at the end, I came up with this outfit from things from the market and in my house. And I put it together with my intention to sweat – to be free and comfortable. Then, in contrast, we have this mix of African royalty and British royalty together in the Queen’s tea scene, which talks about my experience growing up as a Black woman in England. These two types of royalty were never really mixed together and having a love for them both was always very confusing. So I was like – how do you pull these things together? 

Sure, historically it’s two very conflicting worlds. But you put it together in such a peaceful way –  did it become a kind of symbol of who you are? 

I felt like it did result in a peaceful, harmonious visual effect. There were other ways I could have pushed a point home (and I’m planning on doing that with clothing in the future), but for this particular song it wasn’t so much about making those socio-political points. This was a personal, emotional song taking place in the context of a culture-clash. It was simply like “yeah, this is what I wear, I’m an African-British queen, what can I say?” 

I love that! I have to say – the song “Get Paid” is literally my summer anthem. Very in contrast to the news release, but there’s still that sense of who you are even if you’d listen to them in different moods. 

For sure. They just tie together with this overall story I’m trying to tell. Yet because you’re getting delivered these singles one at a time the context has not yet been revealed. When you listen to the full album, it flows from one song to the next and I take everyone through this musical story through the lyrics.

It’s all a part of the same narrative then I guess. Hopefully, you’ll get to do it on tour at some point and then we’ll get to see the flow of it in a live environment! I feel like that changes the game completely, am I right?

Yeah. When people come to my shows and see the context of it altogether, the difference will be barely noticed. 

What have you been doing to keep yourself sane in these nuts times?

I have been finding the ultimate YouTube workout! It’s a standing pilates workout which most people wouldn’t break a sweat doing – you probably could drink a cup of tea doing it! But it’s beautifully chilled out. 

I love it! Thanks for taking the time out and talking to me. I wanted to finish by asking whether you had any words of wisdom for the reader? 

The world isn’t perfect, so, stop trying to be perfect.

Spot on! 

Photography by Luana Soare


Words by Grace Powell