Backstage With HALF•ALIVE
As gigs are on pause, Home is the new Backstage. Get behind the scenes with half•alive this week.
Celebrating the release of their captivating new single What’s Wrong, we caught up with half•alive to chat about the stories that sparked the inspiration for their brand new material, yearning for live music, and finding comfort in art.
What’s a motto you live by?
I mean, “love God & love your neighbor as yourself” covers a lot of ground, so let’s go with that one.
Did you come across any surprises, whether pleasant or unpleasant, while working on your new material?
During a songwriting session with this production duo called OjiVolta, one of the producers, Mark, turned to me & asked “what emotions would someone feel in your vocals if they didn’t speak any English at all?” This question struck me because I realized that there were a few emotions that I was keeping at arm’s length from half•alive songs. Emotions like rage, depression & raw, unprocessed disappointment. I was afraid to give them the keys to the song because they felt too personal & precious, or because I was afraid to see where they would take me. But that day I realized if I want our songs to be 3-dimensional, I have to give them the keys & let them take me somewhere I haven’t been.
Were there any particular events/stories that sparked the inspiration for What’s Wrong?
The lyrics in the chorus were from a misquoted conversation between one of our creative directors, Jordan from JA Collective, who also happens to be my roommate, & a friend of his. During the conversation Jordan noted how absurdly difficult it is to find choreographers on IMDB, but also noted that of all the chaos in the current world order, it was probably not the right time to lobby for this particular issue. His friend replied “well, the time is always right to do what’s right,” which Jordan misquoted to me in our room later that evening – “the time’s always right to fix what’s wrong,” which felt like a defense against the towering stack of problems without solutions by simply starting with the one that’s in front of you.
What advice would you give to your pre-lockdown self?
Though you might have to think outside the box a bit, continue planning things to look forward to.
How, if at all, did lockdown impact your music making and producing process?
California went into lockdown right in the middle of us finishing production on a song. After weeks went by, we realized that lockdown might be longer than we thought & in order to finish the song, we would have to abandon the idea of going back to the LA recording studio & instead finish recording everything ourselves. We definitely weren’t ready for that, but we had no other option. So I suppose lockdown instantly promoted us & we forcefully became professional studio engineers.
How would you sum up your 2020 in one sentence?
2020 had a lot more therapy than I thought it would have.
If you had a quarantine character, what was it like?
Name 5 things that got you through lockdown.
The beach, FaceTime, Letterboxd (a wonderful movie related app), Grailed (a wonderful vintage clothing app), therapy.
What’s the most interesting thing you discovered over lockdown (could be a revelation about yourself, a new TV show, a new hobby)?
We discovered that we can write songs over the internet. It’s not ideal, but it’s possible.
What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?
We really hope that we are able to play shows again in 2021. We were burned out from touring so much in 2019, so 2020 was a wonderful break for us. But distance made our hearts grow fond of it again, & we’re now longing to get back on the road with new vision for the shows in all their energy & complexity.
And finally, slightly cliché but what does music mean to you?
Music seems to be a language beyond words. It crosses state lines & oceans & boarders & speaks to the heart.