Allison Weiss
Early in the Summer, I was browsing the interweb, and I stumbled upon a phenomenal singer, Ms. Allison Weiss. It had been a while since I had heard such a refreshing style. I then proceeded to say so on my blog, and even offered for her to come down to the studio that I ran whenever she came to do a show in L.A. just to simply hand out and toss ideas off one and other, if that. I didn't know that she would respond, much less invite me to the show. I not only agreed, but also offered to record her live performance. Fast Forward to her show. it was an extraordinary turn out, with about 50 to 60 or so people cramming in a quaint cafe, easily suitable for about half the size. She played exquisitely. After the show, however, it comes to her attention that a longtime fan of her didn't get to see the show, just as the coffee shop is closing. She then, simply guides everyone down the street, like a pied piper, and begins to play what turns into a n hour or so performance in a Los Angeles Cul-De-Sac. I was recording the whole thing live, right in the middle of one of the most prolific impromptu performances I've ever seen. Fast Forward once more to this very interview where Allison speaks on her influences, that night in L.A., her most recent tour, and her upcoming album. And so, it begins... click here for full interview audio

Allison Weiss: Hello Again.

Ge Oh: Hello Again. Alright, so first question: why did you starting making music, writing music?

Allison Weiss: I think that the most basic answer to that is, I had some feelings, and I wanted to get them out.

Ge Oh:That IS the most basic answer, right?

Allison Weiss:Yeah (Laughing). I guess when I was a kid, I was good at writing rhyming poetry, but it was always like, really funny stuff. And then, I got into high school, and became emotional, as middle schoolers and high schoolers tend to do, and I learned to play the guitar and then, kind of figured, you know, now that I know how to play this instrument, I should probably write some songs on it, so I kind of put the writing with the music, and wrote songs, and it just happened.

Ge Oh: Right on. I read (in) an article that you dad taught you how to play guitar. Is that right?

Allison Weiss: Yeah. My dad taught me some chords and stuff. I basically just asked him to teach me to play, so he taught me basic chords, and I kind of went from there. So it was a little combination of my dad giving me the kick start that I needed, and then, I kind of just taught myself from there on.

Ge Oh: Right on. Now you said that back in middle school, feelings and stuff motivates you, what motivates you now, as opposed to back then?

Allison Weiss: Honestly, it's pretty much the exact same thing. I'm best at righting songs when I have something to write about, and usually, that sort of thing is like, a relationship issue, but I'm also motivated to make music by all the music around me, and by all my friends who are making music, and so I continue to do it because of that, but when you get right down to it, I can't really write a song unless I have something to write about, and everything I ever write about is relationships.

Ge Oh:That's actually a perfect segue into my next question: who are your influences?

Allison Weiss: I have a very wide, um, musical listeningship - that's not even a word - I listen to a lot of music, basically. But I guess some of my influences are bands like Rilo Kiley, Tegan and Sara, and there's a guy named Kevin Devine, who I really like. But I feel weird mentioning specific people because I feel I'm very influenced by everything I listen to, and I listen to a lot of different stuff and am constantly discovering new things. So, I would say that I'm mostly influenced artist-wise by people that I know, and friends of mine who are writing music, because I go to their shows and I see what they're doing, and it inspires me to work harder, so artist-wise, that's who influences me the most, people I actually know.

Ge Oh: Speaking of which, you already know that I went to your show in LA, which was fucking amazing.

Allison Weiss: (Laughing) Thanks.

Ge Oh: Your fans are pretty dedicated. How do your fans have an impact on you?

Allison Weiss: They also influence me to continue making music. I mean, it's kind of ridiculous to me, because when I was growing up, I never thought "Yeah, I'm gonna do something where people I've never even met totally, 100% support me," You know? Most of the time, it's just like, "Grow up, get a job,work in an office, do what you're supposed to do, and make some money," but you never think that dreams of, some kind of rock stardom or anything like that would ever come true. Not that I'm saying that I'm any kind of a rock star AT ALL (Laughs), but it does feel pretty cool to play a show, and have people in the audience and watching,listening and enjoying themselves, and then coming up after and telling me that it affected them and that they enjoyed themselves. I love it, I think it's pretty incredible. I feel very fortunate.

Ge Oh:Watching you play that cul-de-sac in L.A. was such a testament to you musicianship. What drives you to do stuff like that, like after the show, you continue to play for your fans?

Allison Weiss: I That was probably one of the most fun shows that I've ever played, honestly, in that cul-de-sac. Honestly, it was just becuase the one girl who was there, her name's Emily, she has been a fan of mine of Myspace for a really long time, and (she was) always begging me to come to L.A., and I finally came, and she totally missed the show. She completely missed it. She caught, like, the last half of the last song, as so I was just like, man, if I really liked a band, and they came all the way to my town, and then I completely missed their show, I would be really upset with myself. And the fact that, as an artist, a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) artist, have the power to pretty much whatever the hell I want, I mean, of course I'm going to play songs for her in the parking lot, of course I'm going to invite everybody out, because I just want to have a good time, you know? And that seemed like the most fun thing to do at the moment, so why not?

Ge Oh: You are one of the best DIY artists that I've ever seen rock anywhere.

Allison Weiss: (Laughing) Thanks.

Ge Oh: No Problem. One thing that really amazed me about you is the kickstarter (program) that you're doing for your new full length. It used to be an EP right?

Allison Weiss:Uh Huh, then it became a full length.

Ge Oh: Why don't you explain that just a bit.

Allison Weiss:Well, I decided that I was going to make a new record, and I wanted kind of cut the costs, and I heard about this website called Kickstarter, and I figured " You know what? I'm going to try to raise some money just to pay for the packaging of it," because packaging is pretty expensive, but I still wanted it to look cool, and to be professional, you know? So I set a goal of two thousand dollars, which is what it would cost to press a thousand copies in DigiPaks (which is the cardboard style packaging, as opposed to the classic all plastic packaging), and I ended up reaching my goal in, like, ten hours, and over the course of the summer, I raised enough to fully pay for my album and all the recording, and I even have some left over to do promotion and make music videos, or stuff like that. So it's been pretty incredible.

Ge Oh: It really has been. I've seen so many people who have been affected by your music. I actually did an article earlier this month on a girl we both met at (your) L.A. show, Charlie Moon, and her music is amazing and I can tell how much you influence people such as (her). And-

Allison Weiss:That's really awesome.

Ge Oh: Yea. Going on Youtube and seeing everybody who covers your songs. What do you think about that? Just the Youtube generation and the fact that you're a product of it?

Allison Weiss: Once again, that's just another one of those instances where I' feel so lucky that people care enough to learn my songs and play them on Youtube, and I know that Youtube has been really awesome for a lot of artists, myself included. I'm not as into Youtube as much as singers and writers that I know, but it's just really cool that you can sit in your bedroom and play your songs in front of your camera, and people care about that, and they'll listen, and enjoy, and they'll seek your music out if they really like it. I feel pretty fortunate, in general, to be a part of the whole internet generation, because it's hard for me to think about what it would be like to be a musician in a world where there isn't the resources to promote yourself, by yourself. Because, you know, back in the day, there weren't that many popular bands. I mean, there were a few big hitters, but that was because the record labels were backing everyone, so you had the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and stuff like that, and that's what people listened to, but who knows how many other bands that were just as good as the Beatles, if not better, perhaps? Maybe there were, but you never knew about them because they didn't have the resources to get their music out there. Not that I'm saying that anyone could ever be better than the Beatles, but you know what I mean (Chuckles).

Ge Oh: Yea. Well, this new tour that you just got off, uhm who did you play with and how did that come about?

Allison Weiss: I went out with my friends Bess Rogers and Lilia Brussard, and I say friends now but before the tour we didn't know each other that well. I knew Bess through our mutual friend, a singer/song writer named Jenny Owen Youngs, uhm we kind of like, we have e-mailed each other back and fort and met once in person and we put the show together and decided that we would go on tour together ,which was awesome and then Bess knew Lilia Brussard, who's from L.A., who I didn't meet until two days before the tour but we all kinda figure that we'd get along and it actually ended up being incredible and | feel like I went into the tour like not really knowing these other two people and like leaving with like two new best friends, and we got to play music the whole time while we were making, while we were creating this friendship. So its pretty much the greatest tour I've ever been on so far.

Ge Oh: Right on. Do you have any plans to tour in the future as far as like just already planned out?

Allison Weiss: Oh I'm definitely always planning tours for the future. I'm actually currently ah I just started my fifth year of college today...

Ge Oh: Wow

Allison Weiss: And I should graduate in May and so until then 'til I graduate all of my tours happen during Thanksgiving Break, and Winter Break, and Spring Break, and Summer Break. But ah in between that I play every weekend in any number of towns around Southeast. So if you live in the Southeast you can probably find me somewhere every weekend, but until I graduate that's pretty much where I'm staying.

Ge Oh: Alright now, I know I read also of another article somewhere that you really like being a DIY artist, do you ever like fear that you are just gonna be too big to be a DIY artist and that you're gonna have to eventually succumb to, at the very least like an Indie label?

Allison Weiss: I definitely wouldn't say that I fear that I kinda look forward to it you know. I like the... I like umm that ..I like where I am now and I like that I've been able to do everything that I do by myself but I do know that if I want to be successful as an artist I'm gonna have to accept help when the time comes and it's totally necessary like when you find the right people you can still have that DIY vive and like they're doing this for the good of everything. Like I know record labels are not really the best now a days, not everyone is looking for record labels but there are a lot of incredible Indie labels out there and I would love to be in any number of them and I mean ah I actually just the other day, not the other day like about a month ago, worked out a deal with a friend of mine,  Patrick, who's in a band called The Winter Sounds and they tour constantly so he's really good at booking shows. And I'm also a graphic designer so I'm really good at making website look nice. And so we actually worked out a trade and so now he's actually booking shows for me and I'm making his Myspace look great and I guess you could think of that as like a step away from the DIY thing but I also like to think of DIY as like helping each other out ,you know? It's like you scratch my back and I scratch yours kind of thing. umm cause I mean they are also (The Winter Sounds) are also DIY artist so I want to help then and they can help me so its kinds cool how we can work because its common goal just like making music.

Ge Oh: Yeah that's nice. This new CD that you have that is coming out, what's it called and umm what is it? like is there a theme or is it just like another one of your things that you normally put out like it's along the same line as the last CD that you have?

Allison Weiss: Ah it actually doesn't have a title yet. I'm pretty sure I know what to call it but I am not 100% positive so don't want to tell anyone, just in case I change my mind. umm but as far as the music goes, it's just another  collection of songs that I have written because I have other songs going on, like school, I unfortunately, don't have the luxury of just like take 6 months off to write an album and make it this big awesome masterpiece. I hope someday I could do that but until then ,it just like, I write songs, I pick which ones are my favorite and I put them in a record, so that just what this is. Its just 10 songs that I really like and I hope everyone likes too. But as far as like in comparison to previous records, there's definitely more acoustic stuff on this one and there are at least 3 songs that are just me and a guitar, and a microphone. But that said, there's a lot of those super stripped down low acoustic tracks and there are those that are full out, like, band and rock song that'll rock your face off so I hope everyone likes it. And I think it's like a good mix of songs that are similar in their messages that are all written by me, but they all have their own little thing going on.

Ge Oh: And this is the last question. As a really successful DIY artist, do you have any advice to other artist out there trying to do what you're doing and have succeeded in doing?

Allison Weiss: Umm, it's funny that you call me a successful DIY artist because I don't know that I feel so successful, I feel like I still got a long way to go but I would definitely say that the most important thing is not be be afraid to just like promote the sh__ out of yourself because that's really the only way to do it. Like when I just started making music, I read an article about how to promote yourself in Athens, Georgia. Basically that is where I am from and that's a big music town and there was an article in local newspaper on how to be a local musician. One thing that was said in that article was "promote, promote, promote" and it mentioned that if people know your name then the more they're going to be inclines to go to your shows. So that was kind od stuck in my brains since the and it just like its so important to tell people who your are and to do what ever it takes to get you name out there and like don't be afraid to give away things for free because the exposure that you get from it is worth it in the long run. Like I have a free album that I give away on line, it like a live recording. It's been pretty cool. Also, don't be afraid of the internet. Basically if you are a band now a days and you are just getting started and you are trying to be successful and you're one of those people that says "Oh I don't really use the internet that much, I don't think it's that much important". Well you're 100% wrong and good luck trying to make it without using the internet these days. But I don't want to end that with a negative connotation (background laughter) I mean I'd rather say " Use the internet - it's the best ever!"