Meet ALYA! Earlier this year, she released her newest single, “American Beauty,” produced by legendary Grammy, Emmy and Dove Award winning producer Bill Schnee. The original track has racked up nearly 500,000 Spotify streams, and ALYA also released an explosive remix by Grammy winning producer Dave Aude (Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars) that stormed up the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, reaching #16 after only two weeks; in addition to a Tropical/Latin-fired remix by DJ Cruz. Check out the music video for “American Beauty” HERE.
After a lengthy and successful career as a news personality in Moscow, ALYA left her native Russia to boldly pursue her dreams in the United States. Now, having chronicled her personal struggles and triumphs as an immigrant, and an evolving artist assimilating to an entirely different culture, the multi-talented singer/songwriter shares deeper universal truths about the experience of female immigrants on “American Beauty.” Born during the Soviet with the limited access to Western Music, she developed a passion for classical tunes and opera.
In her own work, she explores different genres with a mainstream sound, while delivering empowering social messages.
“’American Beauty’ is a universal story about and for women who came to the U.S. (or to any country), to forge new opportunities and become their best selves. Says ALYA, “In the uncertain and shallow times that we live today, I wanted to create a song that would be warm and inspiring, soothing and supportive of them as well – a reminder of the true values of America that we come here to embrace.”
Complementing her career as an artist, ALYA, along with her husband, are driving positive social change through their philanthropic work to help low-income college students, advance breakthrough medical research, and improve the lives of pets and their families. They recently donated 20,000 laptops to help Los Angeles Community College students who were forced out of the classroom when schools were closed due to the pandemic. They also announced the $150,000 Michelson Prizes for Human Immunotherapy and Vaccine Research, which was awarded in August to young researchers on the front lines of finding ways to prevent disease. ALYA has also supported other artists and arts education through the Grammy Foundation’s MusicCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Says ALYA, “There is nothing is more powerful than the true stories. As an artist and a journalist, I am using my skills and talents to address and influence broad social issues and to empower people, especially women, to fully realize their full potentials. I’d like to deliver these messages, while at the same time seek new opportunities to give back.”
Learn more about ALYA in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! So how are you keeping busy and musical these days during the pandemic? How are you staying connected to your fans? Are you finding that social media is even more useful now?
Surprisingly, I found myself using social media much less and more focused on getting things done beyond the screen. Together with my husband, we adjusted several Family Foundations initiatives to support people affected by COVID the most. I also continued my work on the upcoming album, deciding to add more compositions to it. There was a little time in the first couple of months when I felt the urge to be present virtually every day, but it went away after I readjusted my priorities. I still communicate with my fans and reply to the messages, but I consider myself “offline” and happy with it. I am also very connected with my subscribers on www.alyaofficial.com. They are my prime audience.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that drive changed since you first starting writing songs?
I was at the frontlines of every school play and enjoyed everything about the stage. I grew up in the Soviet Union, and then after “perestroika” in Russia: my experience was different from American. There was no clear path to success for a child like me. My parents had no connection to music and did not think that an artistic career is promising. Honestly, I was lucky they let me go to music school back then.
Nevertheless, whatever happened shaped who I am now, and having a journalism career behind me is undoubtedly helping. I feel probably the same way as someone who became a parent at a mature age. Very respectful and ready. I know my drill, what I want, nothing can stop me.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that?
I am very proud of my Slavic roots and celebrate my cultural heritage in everything. My new single, “Pleasure Is Mine,” coming out in 2021, and the whole album, is heavily influenced by Russian folk and classical music. Not just melodically, but the lyrics, metaphors, fashion. Living here in the United States, I sometimes see people confused by Russia and the Soviets. There is much more in my native culture than spy, vodka, and bears.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Was your family and friends always supportive of this career choice? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
Music was always a part of me, but my way to it was not easy, although I never gave up. Today I am lucky to have an opportunity to take another road after having a successful career as a journalist. I think also it is not just my luck, but a cultural change that is happening. The life of the artist, especially women, traditionally was concise. Who wants to invest in a mom of three or someone older than 25? Still a tough question, right? But I see people starting to dig deeper and look for real things, and in that dimension, all that matters is your talent and who you are.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? Is there anything you wish you could go back and tell your younger self about this industry?
The whole industry is changing, so every day is a surprise. For the younger self, I would probably advise you to keep doing what brings you joy, connect to people, and not to worry what the record label will think about you. Don’t try to sell your talent; try to be discovered.
Let’s talk about your recently released single, “American Beauty.” What was the inspiration for this track? What was it like working with your producer Grammy, Emmy and Dove Award winning Bill Schnee?
It was a pleasure to work with Bill. He is very patient and incredibly respectful of one’s talent. Bill put together a killer team, and, to be honest, I felt a little humiliated by all their combined music titles at first, but there were as gracious as possible. No one cared that I am not a Grammy nominee yet. It was fun! “American Beauty” was created before we started to work with Bill, and after we talked through the concept for the album, I brought this track to the table. It seamlessly went into place. After we rearranged it and created DJ versions, I came up with an idea for the video, wrote a script, and started filming. I wanted this song to have a meaning that you can read in words and visuals, to line up with my advocacy for Fist Gen immigrant women. I also created a gallery of art pieces, “The Beauty Of Seven Continents,” to complement the release.
What was it like making the music video for “American Beauty”? How creatively involved with the overall process were you?
I am very involved in everything that has to do with my projects, usually like one person orchestra – lol. This time it was a script, and I was overseeing the whole process as well.
Do you have plans to release more new music or a full album soon? Are you currently writing new music?
I am currently working on my second album that will see the light in 2021. The sneak peek of the release’s exotic taste will be a single “Pleasure Is Mine,” which will premiere at the beginning of the year.
Would I love to know more about yours and your husband’s philanthropic work?
Together with my husband, Dr. Gary Michelson, we work to help low-income college students, driving advanced breakthrough medical research and improve the lives of pets and their families. Some of our recent initiatives were a donation of 20,000 laptops to help Los Angeles Community College students who were forced out of the classroom when schools were closed due to the pandemic. We also announced the $150,000 Michelson Prizes for Human Immunotherapy and Vaccine Research, which were awarded in August to young researchers on the front lines of finding ways to prevent disease. I have also supported other artists and arts education through the Grammy Foundation’s MusicCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
How do you think you and your music has grown over the years and since you first started writing music? What has remained the same?
My music is a reflection of me. For a long time, I was not creating it for sale or to perform. I was writing because it was a way for me to communicate. My first album, “Ten Years Of Solitude,” is an excellent example of this evolution. Ten songs in it are from ten different years of my life. They are incredibly diverse. This time, I decided to create something different and unite everything under one umbrella message, a celebration of my roots and femininity.
What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future? Who has consistently been inspiring you and the music that you make?
I am drawn to strong women personalities. Celine Dion, Adele, Sia and Anna Netrebko.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope it will inspire them to move forward; they will feel my love and devotion to the immigration community and relate. At this point, my music is not a show; it is a way to communicate beyond the language, a platform for a strong message of support.