Interview by Chris Koppers
Images courtesy of Allison Scola
Allison creates joyful music and it is a true pleasure to see her performing this kind of delightful music.
Please welcome Allison to crankbox-music. Allison shares some thoughts with us:
Recently, I’ve been inspired by my Sicilian heritage and my passion for Italian, Sicilian, and Italian American cultures. I have always listened to many different genres of music, but in recent years I’ve fallen in love with southern Italian folk music—the sounds and the themes of the songs as well as the rhythms that drive the folk dances. So, right now what interests me most as a songwriter and performer is to express these sounds, which are programmed into my blood, in concert with my ear as an American musician who grew up on AM and FM radio listening to everything from Motown to Madonna. I guess what I’m trying to get at, is that I am an American with a deep connection to southern Italy, so what excites me right now is sharing my passion for these different musical elements with audiences who want to listen.
What are the sweetest moments when it comes to "I compose a song"? Is it the initial process or is it more the whole process?
I love songwriting. I love the whole process! I love to research topics, and I really enjoy getting deeply connected to an idea, with the aim of understanding it from every angle. I’ve found that when I spend the time to do that—to really live with something, that’s when I write the strongest material. Whether it’s a song like “Your Key,” which I wrote in an evening after I spent 2 days in silent meditation on a yoga retreat or “Marco the Barber,” which I wrote after reading an article in The New York Times about a barber facing retirement (I lived with that barber’s inner struggle for 3 months before I wrote a word or a note!). Once I understood “his” experience (through my own imagination and scenario building), the song poured out of me in an afternoon. When that deep understanding takes over me and I can easily express it to a point that I’m able to tell a whole story packaged in 3 minutes and 30 seconds, those are the sweetest moments. Those are the songs I am most proud of.
What are your current plans?
In addition to performing on the Joni Mitchell’s Blue 40th Anniversary Celebration show with Chicks with Dip and continuing to promote A Braver Kind, my latest record, I’m writing new songs. Like I said, I love to write, so at the moment, I’m relishing the songwriting process, and with that, I’m enjoying working on the arrangements with my band. Furthermore, I’m writing songs that I hope will engage an audience. My plan is to create a show that has a distinct thread throughout it, and one that really inspires people—to dance, sing, and understand something about themselves they never new. Once I get all of that sorted out, I hope to record a new album.
Who is the most supportive person in your life?
There are so many people that support me—and all in various ways—my father, my mother, my husband Joe Ravo who is also my bandmate, my producer Janie Barnett, my other bandmates like Dave Mancuso, other close friends and coaches— Kim Davis, Charlie, Lara, Ben… so many to mention, and my fellow artists in Chicks with Dip and Ti Piace; Alessandra Belloni, my Italian folk music mentor. It really does take a village! All of these people inspire and support me in various ways. I feel really blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.
What is your favorite song you have performed so far?
Songs are like children: it’s difficult to say which is my favorite one; and what’s interesting, is that at various times, different songs come back into my life and mean something totally different from when I wrote them—and I fall in love with them all over again; Songs evolve as time goes by. Currently, I’m having a lot of fun performing “Boots,” a song I wrote with members of my band. The song is designed to allow the musicians to step out and really play—and that gives us as an ensemble an excuse to create a party right on stage. As a result, the audience really responds to the energy we create when we play “Boots,” and I love that!
Where will you see yourself in 2013?
My plan right now is to write some more songs and spend a couple of months working them out with my band. My goal, once all of this has come together, is to perform in venues where as a band we can really play out and the audience can really listen and soak up every note. Ultimately, I want to entertain and inspire audiences, so I’m conceiving of music and a concert performance that meets that goal.
Music is... love expressed through sound.
My music is... an expression of my love for life and the vehicle that I exploit to build community.
The music industry should be ... investing in their farm teams.
Being on stage is like ... being a priestess of a congregation that wants to dance, sing, and feel love for life.
Thank you for taking your time, Allison!