R&B is over-saturated these days, so the people who stand out must really do so for a reason. Snoh Aalegra is one of those people; on her debut album Feels (out this week) she channels a classic sound with a modern sensibility, delivering something that feels very, very special. We caught up with her ahead of the release to find out more…
Hello Snoh! How are you, where are you, and what are you up to?
Hey! I’m great, thanks. Currently in Philadelphia. I just kicked off the tour with Daniel Caesar. We had our first show last night it, and it was so awesome. The crowd had amazing energy.
We’ve been big fans of your for a while and we’ve just heard your debut album Feels. For those who haven’t: can you sum up all your feels about it, both inside the album and around it?
Thanks guys! I’m a very emotional person who usually feels before she thinks, which can be a blessing and a curse, but that’s just who I am. I always follow my heart at the end of the day.
The album is a rollercoaster of FEELS. It’s a reflection of my life in the past and in this very moment. I bare it all in my writing, so it’s all super personal to me. I also wanted people to know where Im from. I’m Iranian but born and raised in Sweden. I mention Sweden in a song called ‘Walls’ and also have a Swedish feature on the album on a song called ‘Like I Used To.’ Timbuktu has always been one of my favourite artists from Sweden, so it’s really a dream come true to have him on this project.
You were signed when you were 14. Does it feel like this has all been a long time coming?
Yeah definitely. The road hasn’t been a easy one for me. I always feel like I have to work 10 times harder than everyone to get to where I want to be, but I’ll never give up or stop making music. God gave me this gift so I’m just gonna keep singing forever.
There are some magical moments on there, and a classic feel with the strings and old-world charm (especially on Worse and Fool For You, and the BEAUTIFUL Out Of Your Way). What were you trying to channel with these songs? Is it a deliberate step away from the overdone trap-beat R&B we’re seeing?
I honestly wasn’t trying to do anything but to feel the music I was making. I’ve never been the artist to listen to what’s hot on radio and try to emulate that sound. I’ve always been making music from the heart, and my heart definitely belongs to Soul music. I grew up obsessing over Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Prince, Shirley Bassey, Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill etc. What inspires me the most is the music made in 70-80s and early 90s, in all genres really. Those eras were pure magic to me. Not just in music but also in fashion and film.
It’s quite at odds with the aesthetic we’ve seen so far – the illustrations are quite future-facing. Again, what was the thought behind this and what links both worlds for you?
I’m inspired by anything that makes me feel like a child inside. The cartoon aspect came naturally to me as I’ve always been a fan of it, and when I first discovered Joe McDermott’s work, I just knew he was someone I wanted to collaborate with. The style of pop art feels nostalgic to me. The elements of the illustrations reflect my current life which is described in my music. My songs have a retro sound to them mixed with a current language. I think I’m the same way in the way I dress. I like to mix modern with timeless.
How did the Vic Mensa and Vince Staples collabs come about?
Vic was recording his album at the same time as me in No ID’s studio, and that’s how we first met. We are both fans of each other’s music and talked about collaborating. I was in a meeting one day at the studio and Vic knocked on the door while I was playing ‘You Keep Me Waiting’ he was like, “Yo sorry to interrupt but what’s this song? I wanna jump on this one.” I was like OK!
Vince I’ve known for a couple of years now also via No ID, and I’ve worked with him before on his album. I’m featured on ‘Jump Off The Roof” and ‘Señorita.’ I knew as soon as I wrote ‘Nothing Burns Like The Cold’ that he was the right person for it.
Do you miss living in Europe at all?
I miss Europe so much. I’m definitely gonna spend more time there in 2018. I used to live in London on and off for 4 years. I really love that city. And I miss my family in Sweden so much. I see them about once a year, and that’s definitely not something I’m ok with. Hopefully, I’m touring in Europe next year so I can get my fix and be close to my family.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m always listening to Stevie Wonder, like everyday. I also happen to have amazingly talented friends that I’m listening to such as Lou Val, he’s a dope new artist from Toronto, Leven Kali, Eryn Allen Kane and Daniel Caesar. I’ve been having his album on repeat since it came out. It’s really dope to hear it live on tour now.
Finally, the question we ask everyone – what’s your favourite Beyonce song?
Ugh, it’s hard to pick one. ‘Crazy in Love’ & ‘Mine’ feat. Drake.