Song: Currently “Touch Tone Telephone” by Lemon Demon
Book: City of Ember by Jeanne DuPra
TV Show: Amphibia!!
Alisha Liston is a Singer/Songwriter who recently released her EP entitled “Beautiful Illusion”. Today, we’re interviewing Alisha about how she came up with her ideas for the 7-track EP and what inspired the making of her music video for “Beautiful Soldier”. The track is part of her EP, you can listen below.
How did you get started singing?
I started singing since… forever. When I was really young, I’d sing Disney songs around the house for hours. When I was 4, my parents got me into vocal lessons, and as I got older I started studying all different aspects of music – guitar, piano, songwriting, etc.
What was the inspiration behind “Beautiful Soldier”?
Beautiful Soldier is an encapsulation of the Beautiful Illusion EP. Beautiful Soldier was the last song I wrote, and I feel like it was a reflection on the whole year. I started Beautiful Illusion as a collection of songs to help people cope through heavy emotions and overwhelming situations. Beautiful Soldier is about growing from those situations.
What was it like recording “Beautiful Solder” and the rest of your EP?
It was incredible. I love working with Idrise Ward-EL and Adrian Lopez. Idrise is a multi-lingual, multi-genre, and mega-talented artist, vocal producer, and sound engineer. Adrian is just as talented. His area of expertise is in piano, composition and production. They were really excited about the concepts of the song and the EP. I remember sharing the original version of Beautiful Soldier. We were at my house, and Idrise was like … that’s got to be a ballad. We just both agreed, and got Adrian on board and the rest was history.
What’s the theme behind your EP and why does it mean so much to you?
Like I mentioned, Beautiful Illusion is about coping through overwhelming situations. For me, music has helped me sort out a lot of emotions, and I wanted to write songs that speak to that. In 2020, I did lose my grandmother and great-grandmother, both who I was very close to. That along with Covid, all the stay home orders, etc. was overwhelming, and I wasn’t in a good place. I felt lost and isolated, and turned to some unhealthy coping mechanisms. I’ve gotten better since then, but it still hurts and I still miss my grandmothers. Beautiful Illusion means a lot to me personally because it contains a lot of my stories and a lot of my lessons learned. I just really want people to know, although it may not seem like it now, it’s going to get better. You’ll get through it; really, you will.
How did you come up with the idea for the music video?
For the music video concept, I really wanted to do something with Adrian. He composed the instrumental and I just felt like he should be part of it. As we were mulling over the idea, I didn’t want it to be just about me and Adrian. For a long time, Idrise had been dating Jannet, who suffers from inoperable brain tumors, and I wanted them to be a part of it too. From there, my Mom and I just started thinking about some other incredible people that we knew personally and felt should be a part of it. We really wanted to emphasis who they were as people and how they’ve personally been an inspiration. As we got into it, we wanted to learn more about who their ‘Beautiful Soldiers’ were. That’s when we got the idea to feature their favorite organizations.
Where did you film the music video and what is like filming there?
We filmed the music video at this beautiful theater in Covina, CA, called the Covina Center for the Performing Arts. The place was very majestic, and felt like you were walking into a Broadway show. Everything was decorated with art and gold statues and it was incredible. It even had an elevator in the building. It was amazing.
We love your costume in the music video! What was the process like for finding that look?
Thank you so much! The two outfits from Beautiful Soldier are my favorites. Music video aside, I am really into 18th century/Victorian styles. I love steampunk, and I love mixing that kind of style with modern fashion. The blouse from the piano scene with Adrian was actually given to me as a gift. I got it from my grandfather for my 13th birthday. I also wore it when we were shooting the EP cover art. The on-stage outfit was a bit tougher to find. I had this idea of a coat I wanted, but I had no idea where I could get something like that. So I did a lot of online searching. We (my Mom and I) eventually found the jacket at a place called Clothing4all2017 on Etsy. We weren’t sure if we could get it in time, so my Mom reached out to the owner and they made me a custom coat. The other sizes were too big. I love it, and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
How long did it take to film the music video and what was the set life like?
Let’s see. We rented the studio for 5-hours, but before that we stopped by Joyce’s place. Joyce is a super talented make-up artist and has been friends with my Mom since college. Anyway, we stopped there and Joyce did my make-up and helped with my hair. Afterwards, we went to the theater. Hector Toro was the cinematographer. We met him there. We decided to start filming upstairs. For some reason, traffic was really bad that day so we had to adjust what we shot when based on who was there. Christine was first. Adrian and Idrise got there later. It meant the world to me to have both Idrise and Adrian there while we were filming. Jannet lives in Texas, so she couldn’t make it. We knew that going in, and said we’d figure out how to film her. It was really fun, seeing it all come together. My friend Yasmine came. It was really great.
You’re also an Actress! How was it doing your own project vs acting in other projects?
Yes. I am. I would say that it’s pretty similar, except when I’m running my own projects I’m way more involved in the story telling and how I want the shot to be played out. It’s a balance though, because the people I’m working with are these incredible creatives. So, it’s really important that we can work together and collaborate on our ideas, because that’s when it really clicks and the best ideas come out. When I’m acting in some else’s project, I’m being directed by a director or an executive producer. Sometimes I’ll get to improv; but, generally speaking, everything is already developed: the script, the shot list, etc.
Any advice you’d give to somebody your age who wants pursue singing as a career?
That’s a great question. Generally speaking, I would say you really need to think about what you want your artistry to be about. How do you want to use your platform and what’s your goal? The other thing you need to think about is what you are willing and not willing to do to achieve it. As someone who started singing when they were young. It can take a while to figure it out. Early on I worked with a lot of different people, and they would try to steer in different directions. Sometimes it felt right, and sometimes it didn’t. I think you just know when it’s right. So I would say, listen to your gut. If it feels right, good; but, if it doesn’t, don’t feel like you have to force it.
Any upcoming projects you’d like to share with our reader?
Yes! I am super excited to share I just recorded a new Christmas song called ‘Quiet Little House’. It’s an original, and I am planning to release it shortly after Thanksgiving. I’ve also been working on some new live performance videos, so look for those too!