I first came across Alessi, and her subworld of child-like fantasy and sincere kindness, through her fascinating zine, the Brain Bulletin. Since then I have learned that she also has talents in music making. Through a voice as delicate as the guitar she softly plucks and picks, and songwriting that massages the imagination, she creates a world all her own, one worth a vacation to. She stopped by the Porch to chat about such things as her new album, “Notes from the Tree House,” out on March 30th, Dr. Seuss, and London, her hometown.
JD: Is there a U.S. tour in the works?
A: Aside from SXSW in March, I’m not sure of the other U.S plans just yet. I’ll keep you in the loop!
JD: What are some of your musical influences on the new album?
A: The album took just under a year to complete, what with all the travelling back and forth across the water – while we were making it. I was listening to Neva Dinova, Coal Beautiere, Magic Magic and a mix a friend had made. Above all though, the people I spent time with and the weather we experienced – months of sun and then a good while of snow, were the greatest influences on the record.
JD: Does the new album have a loose concept or a mutual pool of subject matter you fished out of?
A: The songs are all a bit like letters and they were sent back and forth across quite a long period of time.
JD: What is your songwriting process like? What inspires you to write? Are there any authors who have affected your writing?
A: Words usually come before the music does. Both people that take their time and things that were made with no concept of time are inspiring. Walking a dog can be inspiring too though. Edward Gorey, E.E. Cummings, Dr. Seuss, John Kennedy Toole – there are lots of lovely writers I take my hat off for.
JD: I know very little about your background (when you began playing, what first motivated you to become a musician, some of your early heroes, etc.)
A: I thought drumming looked like a lot of fun and I started playing at school when i was eleven. My sister had a classical guitar that I started to play when I was about 14. I liked a lot of fun pop songs when I was younger but one of the first records that truly struck a chord with me was Rilo Kiley’s “The Execution of All Things.”
JD: What effect does living in London have on your music?
A: You can make music after just observing the city and the people that mill around it.
JD: Can you talk a little bit about your Brain Zine. When you started it? How it got started?
A: Dad’s old friend from school met up with him at a reunion and told him about the zine she’d been writing (and is still writing) out in Brooklyn. It’s called The Curse. She is called Daisy and the two of them, Dad and Daisy, encouraged and inspired me to write Brain Bulletin. It was filled with drawings, stories, reviews and a little while after starting it these beautiful submissions from readers started arriving and it was a real treat.
JD: What else have you been up to besides your music and zine?
A: I haven’t made an issue of BB for a while, but I’ve been spending time with family and friends and putting together a split EP with a lovely band, Thunder Power. It is done and dusted now! I’ve also been practicing and playing shows with the band too. There are 6 of us! We have quite a few shows lined up which is exciting.
JD: If you could collaborate with any person or band, who would you choose?
A: I’m not married, but if or when i do get married, I think making music with your husband would be fun, and Neil Young.
JD: If you were a celebrity impersonator, dead or alive, who would you be?
A: Horton hears a who.
JD: What’s been your best, or most interesting show you’ve played thus far?
A: I’m not sure yet. Playing at Oran Mor (an old church in Glasgow) was very special. It is on the road that my Nana and Grandad lived on many moons ago.
JD: What’s the best day you can imagine?
A: Baby sitting, drawing and then riding a tricycle. The basket at the back would have Vietnamese food inside and I’d park up and share it with someone nice.
JD: If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be?
A: It’d have a good view of night stars.
JD: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Matthew Orr makes beautiful mixes.