The Neal Report

Artist Interview - Alice BrightSky


Something remarkable happened recently to Alice BrightSky. This accomplished and award-winning artist has rekindled her passion for music and talks with The Neal Report.



Neal Heart

How did you get started in music?

Alice BrightSky


I was songwriting by the age of 12 and taught myself to play guitar by 16. In college I began performing at coffee houses and festivals and then came to NYC where I played solo, started a few bands and played in various ensembles. The most notable was my band Alizarin Crimson, which was really a moniker for my song-writing, which quickly acquired management and label interest. Unfortunately, as is the way with many bands, personalities conflicted and I decided that particular cast of musicians wasn't going to work.

I then began performing with "guns for hire" to back me up on my music and within a couple years I had an album deal with a prominent studio and producer in NYC. We entered into our arrangement in "good faith" as opposed to signing a formal contract but that was a huge mistake. After a year of recording, the arrangement we had agreed had somehow morphed into something much bigger than I was comfortable with. Ultimately, my attorney (the one good industry influence in my life at that time) wouldn't let me sign the contract I was eventually presented b/c he said it would kill any future prospects I had, marrying me and my work to that producer and studio for years to come.

So after a long and heated battle, I walked away from another project and an album, which I imagine still sits on a shelf somewhere in the archives of that studio, collecting dust. Fairly disheartened by that experience and out of money... I went back to the drawing board and focused on my songwriting. It's then that I began really tapping into my "sound" and what I really wanted to do musically which culminated in the writing of this album, Box of Me, released this past May.


Neal Heart

Where does your inspiration come from?

Alice BrightSky


In terms of the content of my songwriting, I'm inspired by all of the human emotions and I see metaphors for love, anger, pain, sorrow, etc.. in the natural environment, e.g. interactions between the trees, sky, wind, rain, seasons.. I'm inspired, like most, by human relationships.. yes, primarily love relationships, as cliche and typical as that may be.

I hope to do something unique enough with these themes that I'm not simply another person writing about that tired ole love gone wrong story.. In terms of the impulse to be a songwriter or the drive to express myself through music, it's all very cathartic for me. Songwriting is my way of digging out those issues that would otherwise get swept under the rug, and working through them. I've also always been most moved by music, out of all the arts.

Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake and Ani DiFranco probably had the biggest influence over me as a teenager and young adult. I devoured their lilting melodies and intelligent lyrics and wanted to emote something just as poignant and moving. I also wanted to be a kick ass guitar player. So there's that too.




Neal Heart

What sets you apart from other artists?

Alice BrightSky


Well, I've been around the block and I think my writing and music reflect that. I'm in my late 30s and have a lot of life experience to draw from. Not as much as say, Tom Waits or Emmy Lou Harris.. but they are what I aspire to, in terms of making better and better music the older you get. I also think that today's artists are really super polished and I'm not.

I am a more raw version of today's typical singer-songwriter and one of the most interesting comments/compliments I've received from a fan is that when I perform, I flirt with being slightly unhinged.. It's an impulse I've struggled with because not everyone likes that.. for those who were raised in the era of over-produced, auto-tuned acts, that "slightly un-hinged" quality is unsettling and creates anxiety. However, for those who appreciate folks like Damien Rice, Kristin Hersh, Bon Iver.. I like to think I'm in their camp.




Neal Heart

What obstacles have you encountered in the music business?

Alice BrightSky


Well, as mentioned already, I met a lot of unscrupulous people who I came to trust only to be let down. I was too naive in my early years and it took some time to realize that I represented dollar signs, and that's about it, to most of the industry players that took an interest in me. They had a belief in what kind of music would generate the most money and so they tried to mold me to be that income generating artist for them.

All the while, I just wanted to put the hundreds of songs I had written on some albums and get them out to the folks who would appreciate and enjoy them. I wasn't thinking multi-platinum fame like they were, I was thinking I was on the road to establishing a modest but loyal following and a career just lucrative enough to consistently produce quality albums.




Neal Heart

What can people expect to hear or see from you this year?

Alice BrightSky


My album should be hitting your ears via college radio this fall and I'm hoping to parlay that into some regional shows and appearances. My husband and I are in the process of designing a studio and I am currently writing new material for my next album, to be recorded there. I hope to have some new videos and tunes to share this coming year, in advance of the next album which I'm hoping to complete sometime in 2014.




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