Alessia Cara talks about 'Here,' YouTube, and Taylor Swift


Alessia Cara performs at the Streamy Awards
Alessia Cara performs at the Streamy Awards (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for Dick Clark Productions)

Rising star Alessia Cara has emerged as one of this year's breakout performers. She took a few minutes to tell us about her emergence via the Internet, her meeting with Taylor Swift, and how her hit "Here" became a surprise introvert's anthem.

Congrats on your debut EP and album, which are out now. How does it feel to have those releases out?

Thank you! It feels so weird, because I've had these songs for so long, and now they're finally out, which is crazy to think about, but I'm so happy and so excited that they're out.

You started as a musician creating songs and uploading them to YouTube — a lot of covers. Describe that process. Do you remember the first video you posted?

Yes, I do. I actually posted a cover of Jessie J's "Price Tag" — that was the first song I ever covered. It was very bad; it was a horrible cover, but that's how I started. I really just enjoyed doing it, and from there I started doing it more.

What was your first motivation? What made you think, "I'm going to do this. I'm going to hit upload"?

I just really wanted to make a career out of what I was doing, but I was so shy at the time, I didn't really have any other way to get my voice out there. I was still trying to sing in front of people, so I thought the best way for me to get used to singing in front of people would be just to post videos online so people could still hear me sing but I wouldn't have to be in front of a huge audience.

That's pretty inspiring. Do you think that technology like YouTube is going to enable more people to express themselves and get their message out to the world?

I think so, yeah. I think it's a great way to do it. The more that people get discovered off of there [...] you're seeing people open so many doors. The more that happens, the more young kids and people in general are going to feel confident to post their own videos.

Your first song was a cover; you've done a handful of covers. What's your favorite cover that you've ever performed?

That's very hard. Probably the cover that got me discovered, I would say, is my favorite, for obvious reasons. So probably "Sweater Weather" by the Neighborhood, that's my favorite.

You recently met Taylor Swift. What was that like?

That was incredible. She's so sweet and so nice. Her having me at her show was unbelievable. I just didn't expect her to even know who I was, let alone invite me to her show!

How long have you been a fan?

For a while. Her song "Speak Now" was one of the first songs I ever learned how to play on guitar. I was a huge fan of hers growing up; I think every girl was. What girl wasn't a fan of at least one Taylor Swift song? She's [had] such an impact, so it was crazy that I got to be there with her.

Your song "Here": when you recorded it, did you think that it was going to become the hit that it is today? Did you think, "This is the one — this is the best thing that I've done so far"?

This whole thing has been so crazy, from playing Jimmy Fallon to Ellen Degeneres to being on stage with Taylor Swift, traveling the's all been just one big "What is going on?"

Are you able to take it all in?

I'm really trying! It's definitely hard to take it all in and to believe what's happening, but I'm trying.

You've been doing a few interviews, and you've been performing a lot, and your album's there something that you want your fans to know about you that maybe you haven't been asked yet, or that you'd just like to say to them?

Honestly, I feel like I don't say thank you enough, even though I say thank you all the time. There's just never enough thank yous to really say how grateful I am for everyone's support. It's just a weird feeling to have all these people support you and make fan accounts with your name on it and dedicate so much time to me and I really, obviously, couldn't be doing this without all the support. I just want to say thank you again.

I have another question about the song "Here," because the song is a little bit of a rebellion. The message behind the song is about going maybe against the status quo as a young person. Did you think about that when you were writing it, or was it just something that came out? What do you think about the reaction to it?

First of all, when I wrote it, it was based on a true story and I really just wanted to give a different perspective on the whole party-song idea — because when you hear a party song, it's always about how the party is so amazing and how awesome and fun and...that's not true, in my case. I mean, I didn't experience it at all, so I wanted to give a different perspective. I guess it was kind of rebellious, but I didn't really intend to make a rebellious anthem. I just really wanted to give a different perspective about what I went through — but it turned into that because of the people. It's just been wild. Everyone [sees] it as this rebellious anthem for shy people — they just turned it into something that I never thought it could be.

comments powered by Disqus