Alessia Cara has a tattoo on her left wrist of a sail boat. “It stands for perseverance,” explains the Canadian-Italian singer-songwriter. “When I was in science class in 10th grade I learnt that boats and ships can float on any heavy waters because of their shape. It just means that no matter how small or big you are, or how fragile you may feel, you can still make it through any heavy waters, or struggles.” It’s hard to believe that the wide-eyed brunette perched on the sofa next to me is just 19-years-old.
Growing up, Amy Winehouse was Cara’s artist of choice. “Seeing her be so honest, real and raw with her music was really inspiring to me. She played guitar and sung as well and that was something I aspired to do.” Has she seen the documentary? “Yes, twice. It’s so sad but so good. It’s a good insight but also a cautionary tale, for me especially. As an artist that’s coming up it’s a good reminder to remember to stay focused.”
Upon graduating from high school age 16, Cara struck a compromise with her parents – a year off, then if nothing came of her music, she’d return to school. “I worked really hard to try get signed and I did in that year.” Thanks to his daughter, EP Entertainment label founder Tony Perez saw Cara’s YouTube cover of Jessie J’s “Price Tag”, flew her straight to New York to start writing songs, a year later she landed herself a deal with Def Jam Recordings and her first single came 12 months after that. “We put it out on Soundcloud, it wasn’t even supposed to be my first single, it was a feeler. But it just blew up!”
With lyrics like: “I can hardly hear over this music I don’t listen to / and I don’t want to get with you/ so tell my friends that I’ll be over here,” “Here” is an infectious slice of soul-infused
pop that views a party from an alt-lense. “I did it because I wanted to bring a new perspective,nI didn’t think much of it, it was just me ranting, then people started calling it this ‘introverts anthem’,” explains Cara. “I didn’t realise it was that deep for people.”
Summer 2015 saw Cara release her “Four Pink Walls” EP and her debut album comes out,
she says, this autumn. “It’s in the same vein as my EP; there are themes of rebellion, self- acceptance, vulnerability, things you experience as a teen. But sonically, it’s very diverse.” Most recently though, Cara was spotted performing on Halloween with pop-princess Taylor Swift. “Oh my god, it was incredible! I always knew she was nice, because you can tell, but I always think: ‘Okay, what’s wrong with her, does she have six toes?’,” she laughs. “But when you meet her it’s like: ‘How can someone be so perfect?’. It just proves that no matter how big you are, you’re still human and you’re never big enough to be rude to people, you know what I mean?” Yes Cara, I do.
Photography: Raphael Bliss
Fashion: Issey Brunner
Words: Brooke McCord