20 Questions is a Q&A interview series with musicians, authors, and everyone in between, celebrating experiences both shared and individual in the messy game of being human.
“Sometimes when you’re pressed so thin, crushed so flat that there’s no ‘you’ left, you can’t speak of the trauma,” explains Los Angeles-based indie artist Alicia Blue about the heavy subject matter of “Blackbird,” her latest single. “The unfathomable pain, too big, too vast to allocate energy towards, because your number one focus is, of course, to survive. To give an ounce of energy to this pain would surely annihilate you. An obstacle course race to the finish line; one misstep and you’re out.”
Inspired by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Neil Young, Blue discovered the path to creating her own singular and modern sound, always using words and poetry as her driving force. Releasing her first EP in 2019, fate fell immediately for her with Starbucks asking for her song “Magma” to be featured in stores worldwide via their Starbucks Acoustic playlist on Spotify. Generating international attention as a singer and songwriter, Blue quickly became a pivotal figure on the LA songwriting circuit, releasing her first full-length album Bravebird in April 2020. She has been featured in several publications including Billboard and as part of Atwood Magazine’s “2021 Artists to Watch.”
I had the chance to speak with Alicia for this week’s edition of 20 Questions, where she told me all about her latest sounds, how she characterizes “Blackbird,” bingeing Grace and Frankie, who she’d love to collaborate with one day, and more.
What is your earliest memory of wanting to be a musician?
Working at a grocery store in Los Feliz while I was in college. There were a lot of musicians rolling through there, a lot of people who’d done legendary stuff. From an old writer from Chess Records who I’d chat with, to one of Frank Zappa’s guys, to young up and coming artists that I’d later see break through the mainstream. It was inspiring.
What type of song is your favorite to write?
The kind that hypnotizes you. The addictive kind that you can’t believe are now in existence.
Where is your favorite place in the world to be?
Anywhere I’m in touch with myself. Intact and connected. That usually happens in the natural world like the woods or something like that. But it can happen anywhere. Even a chaotic place like NYC. I love it there. I love Nashville, too.
Biggest pet peeve?
When I wash my face every night and the water rolls down my wrists and gets my long sleeves wet. It’s a hard life.
Fourth of July.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
49% Extrovert. 51% Introvert.
How would you characterize your new single “Blackbird”?
A deep narrative that sounds sweet but gets heavy the closer you listen.
The last series you binge-watched?
Grace and Frankie. Watching it here in Nashville as I answer these questions. The episode where Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda present their vibrator business to a women’s bible group.
Most expensive thing you’ve ever shamelessly splurged on?
Massages. Always. No shame.
Best song you’ve heard in the last year?
“The Steps” by HAIM.
Which genre of music would you describe your music as falling into?
Folk rock and indie rock.
Who are your biggest influences as an artist?
Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Hozier, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, and Rumi.
The last book you finished?
Just Kids by Patti Smith.
One movie that will always make you cry?
Favorite song to get your blood moving?
“Electricity” by Joni Mitchell.
You’re stuck on a long flight. Which world-famous musician would you want sitting next to you?
Joni or Bob or Neil.
Favorite quote of all-time?
Pablo Picasso: “I am always doing things I can’t do, that’s how I get to do them.”
One artist you would love to collaborate with one day?
Hozier and HAIM.
One thing that’s been keeping you sane throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Making music and hikes.
What can we expect to hear next from you?
Currently writing for the next album. Tracks that are lyrically intimate with a nice rocking underbelly. Recording this spring.