Who wouldn’t fall in love with a song like “Relapse?” Not only does the song open up with a catchy beat, the lyrics are one us Vixens can relate to. Have you ever been in a relationship you knew was toxic yet you continue to relapse? Well Alus has. The 19-year-old singer, songwriter and musician, who hails from a suburban town in New Jersey, has a soulful voice so soft, smooth, and soothing to ones ears. “Urban-pop,” is what she calls it. A concoction of 90’s music, as she draws inspiration from artists such as Mariah Carey and the late greats — Whitney Houston and Billie Holiday.
Alus is sure to become the next thing smokin’ as she’s already gained a huge internet presence (with 6,000+ Facebook fans and over 55,000 followers on Twitter). She was born with the passion to sing and destined to become a performer. Her grandmother, a violinist who played with Frank Sinatra‘s The Rat Pack and a father who was a drummer and trumpeter. The dedicated songstress works hard in the studio since becoming a “Artist in Development” under Water Music Publishing but hasn’t dropped an album just yet… until now. At the top of the new year (yay 2014!), by the demands of her twitter followers and fans — dubbed the Alusion’s — a new project titled Alustrious will prove what this natural born talent is made of.
We caught up with Alus at our New York City office and got to know a little more about the breakout star.
So tell us, who is Alus?
I’m a singer. I’m a songwriter. I’m a musician. I play piano and guitar. I’ve been doing this since I was a little baby, so you know; I’ve been doing this for a long time.
Click next to read on.
How exactly did you get started?
When I was little, I was like four years old when I first started doing musical theatre. Music’s been in my blood. My grandma was a violinist. She went to Julliard [and] used to play with The Rat Pack. My dad is a drummer and trumpeter […] Around 11 [years old] I started training classically at opera and my voice and then on piano and soft top guitarist.
…on auditioning for Water Music Publishing
I was auditioning everywhere all throughout High School. I would take the bus into New York City and I would bring my headshots and resume and I would say ‘Hey I’m Alus come check me out, let me sing for you.’ I would sing for everybody. I came across an audition for Water Music Publishing … the first thing they asked me was ‘How much do you weigh’ and I’m like ‘Why do you want to know that, that’s rude!’ They said, because ‘you need to lose some weight’ and I said ‘hmm… ouch’ but I took it as constructive, because that’s the way it is. I lost weight and I was in [Artist Development] for a year and I lost 35 lbs.
Ohhh, wow, okay!
Yeah, so I did some work. I lost 35lbs and I did some work with them and I was in development and now I’m getting out and I’m showing my music to people. We’re talking to record labels and its going really good right now.
That’s funny you mention the weight loss. I saw a picture on Facebook with you on the treadmill in stilettos.
Did you see that? [LAUGHS] We put the development part on Facebook because we want people to see that it’s not that easy. You don’t see people who walk down the street and look like Rihanna every day. There’s a journey.
I did think that was pretty cool
Yes, this way, I’m like ‘You can see it.’
It’s like I’m living through your journey as well.
I call it “Urban-pop.” It’s very 90’s influenced. I listened to the divas growing up like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, so my music is very much inspired by that because it’s got a sweet vocal over a “harder” beat like Hip-Hop. So it’s like Aaliyah meets Mariah meets Janet with the vocals.
So those ladies in particular influenced your sound?
Yes, absolutely. And Billie Holiday is another favorite.
Oh, okay. Taking it way back.
So you said that you’ve been singing since you were four, so is it safe to say that you were always passionate about becoming a singer or was it a hobby at first?
No. Ever since I was little I use to watch the Grammy’s and all those awards shows thinking ‘That’s gonna be me one day. That’s gonna be Alus!’ I was born with the passion […] It gets stronger over time because of the things you do and what influences you but I knew this is what I wanted to do from the start.
You mentioned that you have a project that you were working on and music is to drop at the top of 2014.
Could you tell us a little more about that?
It’s going to be about 6-10 songs and it’s gonna show everybody the 90’s “urban-pop” sounding music and Relapse (out on the internet now) is gonna be one them.
A lot of songwriters draw inspiration from their actual experience, Relapse is kind of dark, have you ever had that love life where you loved so much it hurt?
Yeah, all my music is usually about boys, it should be about men, but the reason why they end up in the song is because they are stupid boys. Relapse was about a situation that was toxic and it was bad and shouldn’t have been happening but I kept relapsing in a way. I used “drug-addict” terms because [I thought] this is a potent way to describe love and I want people to take from that because a lot of people can relate.
Yes, that’s definitely an effective way to describe a situation like that.
Photo Courtesy of Alus/Alus Facebook Fanpage
Is the project finished?
Yes, we are actually shooting videos now.
Now that the project is completed, what is Alus doing? Are you relaxing, are you working on the next thing?
No, always working. I don’t stop working. I’m going to start playing at shows in the Tri-state area and working on opening up for [other artists]. That’s going to be a good opportunity.
So when you’re recording your songs, what exactly do you do? Is there any routine you get into to prepare for recording a song?
I like to drink tea because it loosens up your vocal chords…
I’m a tea lover, what’s your favorite tea?
Oh! TAZO tea from Starbucks (particularly passion fruit). And also, green tea.
YES! I love green tea!
I saw that you performed the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden (MSG), how was that experience?
It was fun! It’s crazy to actually be in a stadium and think ‘That’s my voice in MSG, that’s so cool.’ I look at it like, this is just one step. One day I gotta be doing my own music here. So I just keep working, trying to climb the ladder. But it was awesome. You hear the crowd and it’s just a great experience.
Now this isn’t the first time you’ve sung the National Anthem?
Does it become less nerve wrecking?
I think so. I use to do it in High School. [My school] would have me do it for the basketball games, football games, [and] wrestling matches so I was kind of use to it […] Now, I’m actually at MSG like ‘this is cool.’ Maybe one day I’ll do it for the Super Bowl, who knows?
Hey, put it out there!
Exactly! I’m not as nervous at performing as I was first getting out on stage. Now, it’s kind of more natural and I just go with the flow.
What about your own anthem? A girl empowerment song like Beyonce’s “Run the World” or Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock”, have you ever thought about that?
Creating my own?
Yes, I’m actually very into women empowerment and I want people to take that from some of the music. Even though its “love” music, still, women can unite. We don’t need boys!
So yes, I have thought about making an anthem but I don’t want to force it. I don’t want to sit in the studio and say ‘this is the anthem.’ I feel like it should come out when I’m in the studio and after I make the song I’m like ‘Oh, this is the song.’ When you force creativity, it’s not natural.
You go with the flow and your fans will say ‘This is it! This is the anthem.’
You have a huge following on twitter, have you ever been to a show where you’ve actually met some of your followers?
Yeah! [I performed at] Neiman Marcus … at the Fashions Night Out in the Fall and we actually had some fans come. I really wasn’t expecting it. I was like ‘this is cool!’ And they asked me for autographs and I’m just like ‘Oh my God! I love you!’ It’s more like family… I don’t forget these things.
Aww, that’s cool!
So it’s the end of the year and you know at the end of the year everyone’s rounding up their favorite artist and their favorite album could you give me your list of favorite albums?
You know who I really like? I like Drake’s album this year. I really was feeling Drake’s album. I would say that’s the most recent project that I bought and was on heavy rotation in my car. And Justin Timberlake’s [The 20/20 Experience] was an incredible album. I’m excited for new music coming. I think 2014 is going to be a good year for new music.
And who is your favorite artist this year? Well, the new artists.
I like Jhené Aiko. I like her music; I think she’s a dope new artist. And some rappers that just “hit you.” They do this all their life but when they really come out, like Kendrick [Lamar], its like “boom” I’m here, I’m slaying!
Would you want to collaborate with Kendrick?
Yeah! I would love to work him. I have a list of producers in my head and a bunch of people I would like to work with.
I would love to work with Timbaland, The-Dream, [and] of course a rapper like Drake. Whatever happens, happens. I’m down for collabs.
So what can the listeners take away from the music on Alustrious?
It’s gonna be a little female empowerment. And it’s kind of what I’ve been going through my whole life. Like the love situation. A little bit of heartbreak, but in a way its bittersweet, it’s not so sad […] it’s gonna be relatable.