Alus is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and animal activist with a vision to inspire her listeners and serve as a beacon of solidarity through women empowerment. Hailing from a lineage of talented musicians, she felt drawn to the medium of music early on. Her father introduced her to a wide range of genres and artists, cultivating her passion for music. Deeply inspired by her violinist grandmother, who attended Julliard and played with Frank Sinatra’s The Rat Pack, she found herself immersed in the music world from an early age. Alus started playing piano and singing early on, which led to classically trained opera lessons. Additionally, she is also a self-taught guitarist.
Before graduating high school, Alus not only received a scholarship to the prestigious Berklee College of Music, but she also signed with an independent production company called Water Music Publishing. Every day after high school, she was studio-bound, honing in on her innate talent as a budding artist, leading to the release of her original musical.
By 2014, Alus released “Ordinary Girl,” which earned extensive radio play on New York’s top radio stations, Power 105.1 and Hot 97. Immediately piquing Steve Rifkind and Russell Simmons’ interest, she teamed up with their label, All Def Digital, to produce a music video and to continue promoting her debut single. Her next single, “Talk It” received similar acclaim, and the resulting music video was featured on MTV. One year later, Alus began recording herself, culminating the release of a number of YouTube covers and mashups that quickly gained traction, resulting in a staggering 11 million views. She has even received support from Nicki Minaj after being posted on the star’s official Instagram page on multiple occasions.
To date, Alus has performed the national anthem at an array of prominent venues, including Madison Square Garden, The Prudential Center and Nassau Coliseum. Furthermore, her sponsorships include big-name brands such as Rolls Royce, Samsung, Neiman Marcus, and charity work with the ASPCA. “When you work hard and stay true to yourself, the world is your playground,” she affirms.
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Learn more about Alus in the following All Access interview:
Thank you for your time! So what does a typical day look like for you lately?
Thank you for having me! A typical day for me is a lot of writing music, working out, and fulfilling my plans for the future. Not a moment goes by where I’m not putting in the work that needs to happen to get to where I need to be.
Now that we are in the latter half of the year, how has 2019 treated you? What are some goals that you have had for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them or did you already? What are you already looking forward to in 2020?
2019 has taught me a lot about patience and practice. This year has been an elevation of what I’ve been doing from the past few years but on a greater scale. After releasing 10 cover albums the past two years, I decided to go full fledge with my original music. I had always written and kept original music primarily in the “vault” but felt like I needed the right time to release these records that felt so special to me. My intuition keeps telling me that now is that time. I released music videos for my original records fnsmyp, Girl Gang, and No Bra Club and they all have over half a million views, sometimes getting there in less than a month. My goal has been to steadily grow and by the statistics, my numbers have been going up. I put together plans that I’m carefully executing for 2020, so there’s going to be an avalanche of new records coming out. And when I say avalanche, I mean over 50 songs coming out in 2020 alone.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music has always been a staple in my life. It is the glue that makes me who I am, almost like a component of my DNA. I don’t remember when I decided or even how I decided, but I just KNEW that when I was a young girl I would end up making music forever. It wasn’t a question in my mind. I would imitate my favorite artists on stage at the Grammys. I would put on shows for anyone who would watch. It’s like I was born to be an entertainer. Music runs in my family so I do believe I was born with a gift because some of these natural abilities can’t be taught. My grandma went to Julliard and was trained classically in violin and ended up touring all around the world with Frank Sinatra’s The Rat Pack. She also played in many symphonies. My dad played drums and trumpet and is an avid music lover, teaching me about progressive rock like Rush, Tool, Peter Gabriel, Zeppelin. Naturally, being bring born in the 90’s, I ended up gravitating towards the divas.. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Diana Ross. But because I was raised in a musical household, my musical taste has always been eclectic.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I would rather die. Sorry to sound so depressing but I think about this a lot now, especially when I’m in a surreal moment. I always think that if I wasn’t doing this in life, I would be an unpleasant person because nothing would fulfill me like music does. Nothing compares to the feeling of creation in artistry. It’s like a natural high.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all? What has been the best part about it all?
The biggest surprise about making music a career for me has been the amount of people that can resonate with records I’ve written and recorded in my bedroom. All of the songs that have been released were created in my home studio where I therapeutically release emotions into these records. It’s crazy to see the progression of where it can go. I’ve heard these songs play on the radio, in clubs, on social media through fan accounts of them singing and dancing to the songs. Music has no boundaries. It can transcend countries, time zones, platforms. The places a song can go are infinite. That has to be the best part of it all.
Let’s talk about your newest song, “Cherry.” What was the inspiration for this track? How would you say that it compares to anything else that you have previously released?
Cherry was made almost by accident. My cousin was over my house and we watched Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and ended up getting the Oompa Loompa song stuck in our heads. All we kept doing was singing it to each other. She told me I should put it in a song and I laughed at the idea. But then a lightbulb went off! My cousins in high school and I knew that if I put this into a song it would get her and her friends talking, and that’s really all I could ask for in a song like Cherry. So an hour later, Cherry was born. I recorded it in my bedroom while my cousin was still over and when I played it for her, she couldn’t believe how I flipped it… cause she actually liked how it came out! When you hear the concept of the record without hearing it sonically as a song, , Oompa Loompa being made into a pop song almost sounds cheesy to say the least…. but sonically I transitioned that concept that most would be turned off at into a pop song to match my mood with melodies and sounds in the track, so to me it just works like a pop anthem. I’m not saying Cherry is supposed to be some type of moving record, it was supposed to be something fun that people can sing along to. But to keep it consistent with my other records, it still follows the theme of women empowerment, as a woman I always like to feel like a boss or the person in charge. Cherry was sort of that narrative that says, if you want me you have to be invited first.
How creatively involved with the making of the visual for “Cherry” were you? Where did the idea for it come from exactly?
Every single music video I create, I have come up with the treatment for. Cherry was sort of a collection of fantasies that I created in my brain while listening to the record. I originally wanted a life like statue of a cherry but since the music video was created a month after the song was created, everyone I called to do a statue said there just wasn’t enough time. So I ended up doing different variations of what Cherry meant to me. The first look we shot was inspired by Yeezy season 4, where we followed a neutral color platte and had a large cherry sitting on top of a ladder with my legs straddling it to represent the prized possession of a woman! I wanted the Cherry to be the only colored object in the shot. The purple look was a modern day inspiration of your feminine Willy Wonka. I wanted to incorporate my style if I chose to dress like a Ms. Willy Wonka. Of course we incorporated little people in the video because it is only right that we pay tribute to the original movie. Another shot was me in a large martini glass in all red, to represent that I was the Cherry in your fruity martini. Every part of the music video was methodically planned even down to the trees as background pieces where we placed cherries on the branches of the trees. Even down to the editing, I wanted the aspect ratio to be identical to if you were to watch Willy Wonka in the 70’s, the film would have been sized differently on a television set so that’s why you see the music video sort of in a square aspect ratio with black bars on the side. If you pay close attention, there’s something to take from every look.
How would you say that your newest music compares to anything else that you have released in the past?
Cherry is different in regards to taking myself not so seriously. I think in everything I create I always strive for perfection and hope it’s “the one,” but with Cherry, I’m just having fun. I just wanted other people to feel the good energy in the song and not feel so heavy. The world is in a scary place and sometimes we just need a little music to lighten the mood.
Do you have any end of year tour dates scheduled?
All I can say is, 2020 is going to be wild.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started making music? What if anything has stayed the same about your music-making process?
One thing is certain, I’ve definitely become a better musician. My writing game has stepped up tremendously. Years ago I thought I had to co-write to get the best material until I found the confidence in myself to write everything alone. Now, I prefer to write everything alone because when I’m in my home studio and vibing with my own emotions, that’s when the best material comes out organically. At this point, recording myself has become the most important aspect of my creation process because it’s so easy to work quickly when I am in my set up. I know how I want to sound, the levels and presets I want to use, and having this type of quick workflow helps the ideas get out quicker onto a track. I still have a lot to learn, even from others in collaboration, but I feel like I’m in a good place for creation now.
How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career?
Social media has been a major tool to gain new fans and connect with those who’ve chose to grow with me. My Alus Army has grown over the years and at this point they enlist new members on their own! They are there for me through everything and have been more like a family. I even text some of them directly now!
What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
Kanye West! A musical genius.
If you could design your dream music video right now, what would it look like?
Do you have 5 hours for this conversation? Well the cool thing about creating a dream music video means the budget is unlimited. As an independent artist, you usually work with what you have access to or build connections to create that visual. Without putting my full ideas on the internet, I can safely say my dream music video would need to have holograms, 100 dancers, and a spaceship. Maybe I’m an alien?
Where would you love to hear a song of yours played?
Madison Square Garden to a sold out crowd singing along!
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope women can be empowered after listening to my songs. I hope all people can live a little, laugh, and dance along without thinking too much about the hardships of everyday life. Music is my safe place where if everything else is going wrong, I feel okay when my music is on. I hope others feel that too.