Interview with an Artist: Alie Byland

Alie BylandI am very excited for you to hear from singer/songwriter Alie Byland this week. Together with her husband Jake, Alie writes and performs a myriad of gorgeous Indie Folk songs. I have always loved and appreciated Alie’s unique voice and her sweet spirit. She is an inspiration for sure. Read below to hear what she has to say about living creatively and fully, and being all you were made to be.


What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on my first album. Jake and I have written more than enough songs for an album, but I’ve been going back through to re-imagine them, making sure we love them before we get into the studio.


When did you first know you wanted to be a musician?

Honestly, I legitimately came out of the womb hearing music. My dad brought a stereo into the hospital room and played “Baby Baby” by Amy Grant while my mom gave birth to me. Both my parents were artists/musicians and my whole family is really musical, so it runs in my blood.
On a personal level, the first memory I have as a singer is: When I was about 8, I listened to the Lion King soundtrack over and over until I memorized the lyrics, then stood on top of our hot tub lid in the yard (I was small and didn’t cave it in…yet), and sang all the songs as if I was performing at a concert live. In my head I was amazing. I’ve just never stopped singing.


What are your near and future goals for your music?

Near: I want to record this album. It’s called “Interstate.”
Future: I want to tour with a band. Right now, it’s just Jake and I, and we have two friends that play cello and violin that join us occasionally. But, I would LOVE to have a band that understands our music and wants to add to it with their instruments. Touring here and back to my hometown of Albuquerque would be awesome. Then, EUROPE! Oh, it would be fun to meet Jimmy Fallon too.


What other types of art or artists inspire you? Any specific examples?

BRANDI CARLILE. Since I was young she has inspired me in a life changing way. Growing up in the church in the 90’s, my musical library consisted of singers like Rebecca St. James, Kari Jobe, Stacie Orrico and other female “sopranos.” I never could reach those high notes, and it always frustrated me and made me feel like I was a crappy singer. But, then one day I heard Brandi Carlile on the radio singing, “Hallelujah,” and it filled me with so much excitement to hear a beautiful female vocalist with a lower range totally rocking it. From then on I embraced my chest voice, falsetto, and stopped criticizing the voice God gave me. Totally opened my range of possibilities.


Some more to mention: Birdy, First Aid Kit, Stevie Nicks, Norah Jones, Mumford, Sleeping at Last, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Keith Green, etc.


How do you usually get past creativity blocks?

I don’t. Haha. Those are the worst. Here’s what I think: Sometimes you just need to listen to your body and stop forcing something. When the “creativity flow” comes, take it, be grateful, milk it for all it’s worth, record it, write it down, have fun, then go eat a snack or something when it’s over. I believe there are seasons of creativity. Sometimes there are seasons where Jake and I will have SO many ideas for songs, but we just can’t seem to FINISH them. I’ve learned to be okay with that because there are other seasons where the idea land has dried up and we’re all pumped to finish the started songs. There’re other seasons where we want to perfect what we already have, so we go back and rework some parts that were good enough back then, but now we can make sure we really LOVE each lyric or bridge.
It’s when I take the pressure off of myself to please others that I start to enjoy our music.


What does your creative process look like?

BYLAND’s creative process is unique. Jake and I both play a different part. He’s really amazing at lyrics, the message, the story… I’m keen on the melody, instrumentation and conveying the emotion vocally… UsuallyJake gets an idea for a song, thinks up a couple lines in the car, which we later put to music while I have a guitar in hand.

We need each other. Like he says often, “I’ll make the rhymes, you be the reasons.”


What is your favorite instrument?


I don’t really consider myself a guitarist. I only picked it up and learned a few chords, because sometimes it’s hard to lug a piano around town with you.

We were not a wealthy family when I was young. My mom would hide away grocery money so that I could take piano lessons. I would practice on a keyboard at home until a woman gave us her old upright. My dream is to one day own a baby grand.


What is something you love about being an artist?

ART INSPIRES PEOPLE. And it’s a language we can use to speak hope to any generation, society or culture.


What nugget of advice can you give to beginning/aspiring musicians and/or other artists?

For the love of God, STOP COMPARING YOURSELF WITH OTHERS. And work hard.


What do you wish you knew before you played your first show?

HAVE FUN. I was SO serious, thinking it would help people take me seriously. But people want to have fun and enjoy your music. That’s why they’re there.


How do you balance home life/other responsibilities with your “creative time?”

Generally, life (cleaning my house) ends up trumping my creative time. To combat this, I usually either:


Plan A: Schedule my days out in the morning, activity by activity, so I can anticipate what’s coming up next. This way I’m more likely to have that “creative time.”

If plan A fails…
PLAN B: I just have to stop what I’m doing and sit down at my piano and try my best to block out the other responsibilities I have. It’s tough for me to feel like I am being productive when I’m being creative. I know it is productive, but the results aren’t as clear as when I clean the toilet.


What kind of change do you hope to bring about through your art?

This quote by the lovely Marianne Williamson helps explain:


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”


I’m a firm believer that bravery begets bravery. We can’t change people, but we can inspire them to be true to themselves by being true to ourselves.
Simply put, I want to inspire others to do what they love whole-heartedly because I’m doing what I love whole-heartedly. I believe it makes God smile when we discover the fullness of who we are and we begin to love that person. He didn’t make a mistake when making you or me. He gave us each unique gifts and qualities that are meant to be shared with the world.


What would your superpower be and why?
Okay, I’d love to be an information sponge, like have the ability to never ever forget something I’ve learned. I HATE FORGETTING STUFF. I want to read a book, hear the lyrics to a song, watch a documentary and be able to live and tell about what I saw or heard or read. That’d be AWESOME. Basically, I want to be my husband, Mr. Smarty Pants. Gosh!! 😉


More about Byland:

Byland is an Indie Folk, Singer & Songwriter duo that began in December of 2013 when Alie Renee, a powerful yet mesmerizing vocalist from the desert of Albuquerque, NM married Jacob John, a hopeful lyricist and dreamer from the Pacific Northwest. Alie grew up listening to legends like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and learning from modern folk artists such as Brandi Carlile. Jake’s upbringing taught him to appreciate the lyrical genius and simplicity of Classic Country. Influenced by the desert and the mountains as well as their diverse backgrounds, the two write music together they hope will inspire those they get to share it with. Byland believes that honest lyrics sung with genuine emotion make for great music. They are currently performing throughout the Greater Seattle Area while they work on their first album.

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