“This Florence-like Londoner looks set to become the sound of 2013…a star is born.” Strong words from The Guardian about upcoming singer-songwriter Arlissa, and Wonderland are happy to feel the same way. The 19-year-old puts on a stunning acoustic show for us with her new song, Hard To Love Somebody.

For those of us who haven’t had the pleasure of being acquainted, who is Arlissa and what are you about?

My name’s Arlissa, I’m 20 years old and I’m half German and half American, but have lived in London throughout most of my life. I’ve been writing forever but started making my album about two years ago. I want to make big sounds with real instruments, and write about that process of growing up as honestly as possible.

How would you describe your sound?

My solo stuff is more influenced by artists like Crystal Fighters (I’ve just been in the studio for their album), Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. I wanted a really epic, tribal feel. Weird vocalists inspire me as well. Someone like Peter Gabriel was so unique for his time, and all those artists made me want to write this really earthy, ethnic album, which didn’t sound like anything else on the radio.

You hit our radar when you appeared on a great Nas track, How To Love Somebody. What was the man like in person?

I was working in the studio next-door to these producers called The Fearless, and they invited me in to sing on their chorus for Hard To Love Somebody. The next thing I knew I was flying out to L.A to record the song with him, which was fricken’ awesome. Nas was lovely – he wrote the rap about five minutes beforehand, and he makes you feel so comfortable. This song is a side-step from my solo stuff but it’s also a huge step forward at the same time, as I’m a brand new artist.

What was the first song you remember listening to, and how do you feel about it now?

What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes. That was the one that made me want to be a singer: I think I was about 10 years old. It made me realise that everything didn’t have to sound like R&B music, which is all I heard at home. 4 Non Blondes opened me up to the possibility of different genres and also unique ways of singing. I still love it today, absolutely.

When did you decide to start doing music?

I’ve been singing my whole life, but I started to take it seriously in around year 11 at school. It was getting to the stage where all my friends were applying to university and I had to make a choice as well: I chose to throw myself into music. I also worked in a shop for years to fund studio time. I’ve put everything into this so if people enjoy it, it will mean the world to me.

What’s a typical day in the life of Arlissa like?

Well there’s a lot of eating! If I’m not writing, I love to cook. I’ve just finished my album but am still working on new songs. And I just put a lamb roast in the oven.

Arlissa Vs. Nas ‘Hard to Love Somebody’ is released 9th December. facebook.com/ArlissaMusic

Directors: Tobi Coventry and Jo Ohanlon
Sound: Ben Hawkins
Words: Zing Tsjeng
Special thanks to the Cob Gallery