10 Questions with ... Alana Lee
October 21, 2013
Can you offer a brief journey of your musical career thus far from your perspective?
I started singing when I was pretty young. In fact when I was four years old I performed a Brittney Spears song on a cruise ship because my parents said they would buy me a new outfit if I didn't chicken out.
When I was about 11, I started acting and going out on auditions. A couple years later, I had the opportunity to record a song and do a music video. We thought that would be great to use as a reel for my auditions.
I recorded my first single "Butterflies" with Ark Music Factory and also did a music video for it. The music video went viral and received over 12 million hits on YouTube in 2011. At that point, I realized how much I enjoyed the music side of things. I hired a producer to work with me and he produced "Synchronize" and "This Is Me". In addition to "Butterflies", both "Synchronize" and "This Is Me" were released in late 2011 and early 2012 on ITunes.
In June of 2012 I was asked to perform at a concert called Brea Summerfest and during the event, I was introduced to Thomas Barsoe and his company called OC Hit Factory. I approached him later in the year to ask about signing up to take songwriting classes with him. We immediately started talking about releasing an EP and we started selecting songs. This year we finished my first single called "Dream Out Loud" and we also released a music video for it on my YouTube channel. It has gotten really great feedback so far. Also, released in August is my follow-up single for the EP called "Perfect Storm." I have also recorded an acoustic ballad called "Shadow Dancer" that will be included on the EP which should be ready for release by the end of the year. I look forward to sharing it with everyone and showing how I have grown as an artist over the years.
Contact Information: Luck Media, Chrissy Sutphin, 818-232-4175
1) What Got You Interested in music? What inspired you to pursue a career as a recording artist?
I got interested in music when I recorded "Butterflies" with the Ark Music Factory. I loved the entire process. When acting, I am pretending to be someone else. But in music I am expressing who I am.
I think that my biggest inspiration to pursue my music career is being able to express myself. I love to write down my feelings and see how I can incorporate them into music. Music makes me feel better, and I love being able to share it with others. The feedback that I receive makes me feel so good. I had a soldier in Afghanistan write to me to say that listening to my music helped get him through the rough times and this kind of feedback just inspires me that much more.
2) Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Some of my biggest musical influences are Taylor Swift, Adele, Demi Lovato and Bruno Mars.
3) Tell us about your breakout single and video "Butterflies"
I really only agreed to produce "Butterflies" and do the music video because we thought that it would be good to use as a reel for my acting career. At the time, I was going out on auditions for Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. and having a music video for a reel was a great tool to have.
4) Tell us about your early experience with Ark Music Factory and the artist Rebecca Black
After we recorded "Butterflies" and finished the music video, it was posted on the Ark Music Factory YouTube channel by mistake. It was supposed to be posted to my personal YouTube channel. It was posted around October or November of 2010. Rebecca Black was a friend from my Musical Theater. She loved my video and asked her mom if she could do one too.
My mom spoke to her mom and gave her all the information so they could reach out to Ark. The song that Rebecca chose to sing was called "Friday". I think she finished her song and video in February of 2011 and someone posted it on Tosh.O and it quickly went viral as a really bad song and video. Some of the Ark artists and I went to Rebecca's house the morning of her Good Morning America show to show our support for Rebecca. It was really difficult for her because of all the bad comments everywhere. When Ark asked if we wanted our songs taken down from ITunes, we both said "No". As a result of the social media traffic going to view "Friday", naturally "Butterflies" was a suggested video and subsequently picked up over 12 million views. We both chose not to produce any additional songs with Ark and asked to have our videos reposted to our own YouTube channels. We both ended up working with different music producers after that.
5) Please tell us about your new single "Dream Out Loud" and what influenced you to write and/or record this song?
"Dream Out Loud" was written by my producer, Thomas Barsoe, as well as Lars Halvor Jensen, and Pam Sheyne. Thomas and I were going through possible song choices for the first song of my EP and when we came to "Dream Out Loud" we both stopped and said "This is perfect!" I fell in love with it right away.
"Dream Out Loud" is about aspiring to accomplish a goal and then looking back on the journey and how you were able to get to that goal.
Suite 7 Productions is the video company that has produced all three of my music videos ("Butterflies," the sequel which is called "Synchronize," and "Dream Out Loud"). I talked with Chris Lowe and Ian Hotchkiss on the phone and discussed possible story lines for the music video. When I saw the final treatment I was so moved. It is such a great, emotional and inspiring story.
6) How have social networks and sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter affected the way you promote your music and interact with your fans?
All of the social media websites are so crucial in staying in touch with my fans because it's so important to remind them how much I appreciate them. Many of my fans are on social media non-stop, so it is a great way to share with them new music, videos, events, etc.
The most important thing to me about social media is giving my fans a way to communicate with me. I love to hear what they have to say and getting their feedback means a lot to me. I personally try to answer as many questions as I can as a way to say "thanks for supporting me. I wouldn't be here without you"
7) What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes, and how do you taylor your music to fit in with contemporary artists that are now getting played at radio?
When I song write, I usually listen to the track or guitar and get inspired by the music first. Is it sad or upbeat? I go from there and then try to draw inspiration from my experiences. I love to write with other people too so that we can throw around different ideas and song subjects. When I get a block and can't decide which way to go, its good to have a second or third opinion.
8) If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be?
I would love to work with Taylor Swift because she seems so sweet and down to earth. She's a great songwriter and performer and I feel I could learn a lot from her.
9) What is your favorite song to perform live?
I love performing "Dream Out Loud" live because its so empowering. It just gets me so excited! The rhythm and beat are so catchy and it makes me want to dance.
10) Do you have any advice for upcoming musicians?
I get asked that a lot by young fans and I always encourage them to practice a lot and be ready for an opportunity when it comes along. You never know when it is going to happen so be prepared and enjoy doing what you do. Don't let anyone tell you that you should stop doing what you love. If you listen to everyone's opinions and not your own, you will be miserable.
What do you do in your spare time?
I love to hang out with my friends. We go to lunch, we go shopping or we go to the movies. We also love to spend time at the beach or go bowling. I also have a dog named Emma. I spend a lot of time with her. I take her on walks and to her obedience classes.
How do you balance your family life?
My family is just very supportive and involved so no matter what I do they are always there. I make sure to always get their input and set aside time to hangout with them. I stay organized so I can fit family time in with school time, music time, acting time, etc.
What are some of the artists we might find on your MP3 player?
Artists on my IPod are Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Jack Johnson, Kelly Clarkson, The Band Perry, Bruno Mars, Luke Bryan, etc.
Favorite city to visit:
My favorite city or place to visit would be the Bahamas! The water is gorgeous and the weather is beautiful. I love beaches!
Who has had the biggest impact on your life?
The biggest impact on my life has been my parents. They drive me everywhere. They help to keep me organized and on track. I can guarantee that I wouldn't have made it this far without them. They always keep things in perspective and make sure I still have time to be a kid. They also keep me down to earth and remind me to be grateful for everything I have.