Had the chance to talk with Alisha Zalkin about her newly released On This Road EP and how she uses yoga and meditation in creating her music.
Which artists or albums have inspired you, musically or otherwise?
Alisha Zalkin: I would say the biggest album and artist that has inspired me is Carole King and her album Tapestry. It's one of my all time favorite records: I literally know every song. Her musical style, everything she writes about - well, like, her co-writers, but she wrote as well - just, her songs were so influential at that time and they made a difference for women and it's just an incredible record and she's just my idol. The first track off the record is a Carole King cover.
"Fearless" is so powerful; what was the meaning or inspiration behind it?
The inspiration behind that song was.. a friend of mine, a childhood friend, was diagnosed with cancer and it was the first person who was my age I knew who was diagnosed with cancer. It just really just hit me hard and I couldn't help but think about, you know, when we were all in kindergarten, if we had known one of us was going to get cancer in our twenties, how would we have lived our lives differently? So I walked into a writing session with a friend of mine, my co-writer, Mary Ruth Schuler, and we were talking for hours, sharing stories about people that we know who've had cancer and, sort of, how we would live our lives; what would we do differently, that kind of thing. We just thought, why do we wait for that point to really live fearlessly? It really should be something that we do every day, all day, because there's no difference between someone who is suffering from a disease and someone who isn't. Tomorrow isn't a promise for anybody.
You've put out two EPs now, are there any plans for a full length album?
Yeah, that's the goal, the next step. This one just came out so I'll probably be performing for a bit but, all the while, writing and creating a full length.
Which track from On This Road means the most to you? Which of the tracks can you not stop listening to?
Definitely "Fearless". That was just an emotional song, for so many different reasons, and it forced me to take risks, as an artist, and be totally authentic and honest with myself; it's been a big game changer for me. That's one where it's just so meaningful and, you know, everyone knows someone who has been ill with cancer and so every time I perform it I can feel, just, that attention I have from the audience and it's a really special song. I love doing that one live.
What do you mean when you say it forced you to take risks, exactly?
I just meant, like, all around. As an artist, I'm putting out this song that's, hopefully, inspiring people to be fearless and it kind of holds me accountable for being fearless too. It's kind of like 'practice what you preach' in a way, even though I don't want to say that I'm preaching it, it's.. I can't authentically perform that song, in the studio or for an audience, unless that's the way that I am constantly living my life and challenging myself to live that way.
Where do you see your music going in the future?
I really hope to do a tour. I would really love to tour the states, tour out of the states, and just constantly create music that empowers and inspires people; I really just feel like that's the point of music, so I wanna give back in that way. I feel like I've been given music for a reason and I want to make sure that I get to people.
Other than music, what most interests you; were you not pursuing music, what would you be doing?
I am very into yoga and meditation and I do transcendental meditation twice a day: I practice yoga regularly; I actually did get my $500 yoga certification. If I weren't doing music I'd probably do something in that realm of meditation/yoga/ayurvedic medicine, something along those lines.
If you could see one artist/band in concert this summer, who would it be?
Ooh, that's a really hard question.. There's so many.. You know, one I've really been wanting to see live is Jason Mraz. I would definitely want to see Jason Mraz live but I've also been wanting to see Allen Stone live; I don't know if he's on tour but, if we were talking concerts, I would definitely go with Jason Mraz.
Are there any concerts/festivals you aspire to play at?
Hmm, I would love to do Bonnaroo, Outside Lands.. I would love to do yoga festivals; they often have music so that would be cool. Lightning in a Bottle is also a very, like, conscious space music festival.
What do you want listeners to take away from your music?
I just want them to feel empowered by the music and I want them to feel, sort of, rejuvenated. I want them to feel as though whatever stress they're dealing with or whatever, whatever's in their way of just fully accepting themselves and being truly authentic, I hope that the music inspires them to be that way, to let go of whatever's holding them back.
How do you transpose your love of yoga and meditation and, all of that, and put it into your tracks?
Well, you know, yoga and meditation are all about self discovery and it's really like being truthful with yourself and honest with yourself; making the choice to live with integrity. So, I try to write about my own experiences with that and I happen to work with an incredible producer named Steve Greenwell who does not let a beat go by that isn't truly authentic. He doesn't allow any music in there that is just there for the sake of being there. I mean, it was all so honest and pure so that really supported the lyrics and the melody and the message of the songs. I think, you know, I think that really [helps to] translate the stuff that I learn while I do yoga and meditation into my music. I tell people I did my $500 yoga certification but yoga isn't just the physical practice and I teach yoga through my music so, yeah, I think that's how I see the two co-exist for me.
Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Just to spread the word. If they love it, share it with their friends and just, listen to the music.