6th May 2023
Interview & Digital Editor: Pankhuri Bhutani
Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent
Photography: Elizabeth Jamieson
This LA-based German-American singer-songwriter and model has been working tirelessly on her debut album ’The Open Hearted’ - a project that she finished shortly after going independent in her career but also after experiencing two huge heartbreaks in her love life.
Arlissa showcases her artistic abilities in her highly anticipated debut album "The Open Hearted"; project defining her power as a human who has experienced hurt in a multitude of ways, but knowing that love can be found within your inner self and ultimately it is never lost.
Having worked with everyone from Nas and Zayn Malik to Kiana Ledé and Duckworth in the past, Arlissa's talent can be witnessed through her iconic works from her penning down and performing on “We Won’t Move” from critically acclaimed movie 'The Hate U Give' to BTS’s “Spring Day”. She also worked on Zayn’s comeback hit “Flames” as well as “Eyes Off You” for Ariana Grande’s soundtrack for Charlie’s Angels.
Although this year is the one where the London-raised artist is setting up to take centre stage, proving her in-demand singing and songwriting skills showing the world her true versatility as an artist.
Arlissa’s backstory is one of courage and defying stereotypes, with her previous label Def Jam insisting on placing her as an R&B artist and “sexualizing” her image, causing Arlissa to shift as an artist in the pop lane, furthermore also being one of the significant reasons of her going down the independent lane in order to pursue her sound on her own terms.
Also a proud queer, Arlissa is also an avid advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, recently taking part in Spotify’s LGBTQ+ sessions for artists, which showcases likeminded female artists come together to work on new music & speaking on a panel discussing their insights and experiences.
As the entire world is gearing up to witness her at her most authentic and vulnerable state ever with her debut album 'The Open Hearted' based around a pivotal relationship that came straight after the ending of her marriage; a project pouring out of her personal experiences, we recently had a chat with the wonderful Arlissa where we discussed her experience shifting to an independent lane, the creative process behind her highly awaited upcoming debut album "The Open Hearted", her experience working on this extremely personal project and what she has in store for the future!
Hello there Arlissa. So lovely to have you over at ReVamp! How are you doing?
I am doing wonderfully thank you for asking!
How has the start of 2023 been for you?
Honestly the winter months were very restful, I was still in hibernation mode figuring out what I wanted my main themes to be for the year. Since March now though, it’s been hectic! Very busy and very exciting.
I obviously have to start this interview by asking about your highly anticipated upcoming debut album “The Open-Hearted”. First of all, huge congratulations on the album! I’d love to know the initial inspiration behind this specific project?
Thank you so much! Honestly I will be real, I had a really intense Saturn return relationship that broke my heart wide open and the album really is me processing that relationship and seeing how much I grew from the love, the pain and the lessons.
Since your previous label insisted on placing you under the title of an ‘R&B artist’ even when you were immersing yourself within the landscape of pop, them also further attempting to sexualize your image, how has this route been for you ever since you evolved yourself as an independent artist? Have you finally found the creative control over your projects and the freedom to create things as you once envisioned them?
Oh yes, it’s wild as an independent because everything is completely in your terms which is beautiful. I finally was able to be exactly who I knew myself to be in this moment (because that is always ever changing) the strange thing about not being with a label is although you have complete creative freedom, you no longer have the big bank funding ideas. So you really have to wear many hats. The artist, the business woman, the marketing manager. Etc. It’s all you trying to figure out how best to put yourself on display to get your music heard in a way does not break the bank. I’m a very sensitive artist, so that’s been a really beautiful lesson for me, stepping into those roles and knowing I can handle that and do it well.
If not the negative experiences, do you believe being affiliated with a music label can help upcoming artists in their endeavors or should they start out independent in order to experiment their potential and then further get help to pursue their passions professionally?
I think the most important thing if you choose to sign to a label is to really know yourself. I didn’t grow up in an environment like many of us, were I was taught to trust in myself, I was always taught to trust in people who honestly did not have my best interests at heart. It took a lot of failure that came with me trusting others over myself to really get to learn and know myself. When you know, love and accept yourself deeply and have a great team in place first, like your manager for example. it’s harder for a label to walk over you, let alone people in general.
You have written and performed on so many phenomenal projects, some of them including, “We Won’t Move” from the critically acclaimed movie ‘The Hate U Give,’ BTS’s “Spring Day”, Zayn’s comeback hit “Flames”, and “Eyes Off You” for Ariana Grande’s soundtrack for 'Charlie’s Angels'. What according to you has been the most memorable moment from your professional journey so far?
My most memorable moment was living in my beautiful little apartment I was renting in Holland park, having breakfast in the summer time on my quaint little balcony and hearing this song I had written (First time by M22 ft Medina. It’s a banger) blasting through cars as they drove by. It wasn’t me singing on it, but it was the most euphoric moment of knowing I had made something that didn’t just make me feel good, but made others feel good too. I felt like I had contributed something fun to the world in a song and that song contributed to me living in my dream apartment in london. Moments like that make being human so so fun.
Your recent track ‘Hard To Be' revolves around the grief that you experienced from ending a relationship. Since it deals with such a vulnerable aspect of your life, did you ever have second thoughts about putting the track out for everyone to listen? Do you think creating projects emerging out of such personal moments of your life somehow makes it harder for you to release them out to the public?
Definitely didn’t have any second thoughts. All my work is so deeply personal. I can only create from my lived experience, it’s just how I work. I love to alchemize and transmute energies that I no longer want living in my body; like grief and pain. And turn them into something candid and beautiful.
Coming back to your phenomenal album, I’d love to know the overall creative process behind the project. Did you ever face any sort of struggle during the production stage of the album?
Totally. The sound changed a few times because I’m such an eclectic person and I love to play. But I’d listen through and think…okay this is very much highlighting my adhd because it’s jumping from place to place to sound to sound. So I had to really sit with it and ask myself what kind of offering do I want to give. Who is this an offering to and what do I really need to say in this space of life I’m in. So a lot of songs got the boot. Great songs, but they didn’t fit the message of the album. And the message really is about keeping your heart open through suffering and loving yourself back to health through it all. And I think now the album really reflects that beautifully.
Listening to the album for the first time, I perceived such a mix of emotions. Each of the tracks showcases a distinct range of your spectacular artistic abilities. Which track has been the one that stands out personally for you? If you could describe the album merely through one word, how will you define “The Open-Hearted”?
Only one. Honest. My favourite song changes every week. Right now it’s Therapist which is a cheeky song I wrote once I started to claim my power back and really see my old relationship for what it was.
(Thank you for your time, Arlissa! Wishing you lots of luck with this phenomenal project!) Lastly, I’d love to ask you if there’s any message you’d like to convey to your fans reading this interview currently?
Thank you so much for having me, and your kind words. This album is for anyone who has ever believed their worth has come from how loved they are by others. I want you all to know that when love no longer comes around in the form you knew so well. it’s time to form a new relationship with love. To me, the best place to start is by giving it to yourself first. Romance yourself, love yourself wholly and fully and use my album as the soundtrack to this chapter while you do!