By Keith Sharp
Alessia Balasbas is aware that one of the first questions asked of her as she debuts her six-track EP titled ‘Roses” is to explain her performance name ‘A Is For Arrows‘.
“It came from a quote awhile back that an arrow can only be shot by pulling the bow backwards,” noted Balasbas from her Toronto residence in promoting her new release. “This inspired me to write a song called “Shooting Arrows” which kind of poured out of me (which, ironically, she has yet to release). That song is about perseverance, about setbacks in life but it’s also about aiming forward and not taking your mistakes as failures which basically summarizes what A Is For Arrows is all about.”
To categorize Balasbas’s music is a challenge. She acknowledges the likes of Michael Jackson, Sade and Destiny’s Child as being past influences but the seven tracks which make up “Roses” are clearly created from her own unique perspective. The record’s debut single, “Talking In My Sleep” expresses her anxiety, “Go Slow” is about self-confidence and “Without You” reflects her feeling of loneliness. These tracks; along with album title “Roses”, “Every Now And Then” “Can’t Stop” and “All The Stars” are all lyrically, very personal to Balasbas and took a few years to reach completion.
“All the songs are about falling in love, one of the most important human experiences you can go through,” Balasbas explains. “I purposely took my time to write them. I am not a person who is trend-based. I kind of say what I want to say in my own way and I don’t want the world around me to affect that. So once a song is out there, it’s not yours anymore so I wanted to make sure that I was happy with each song before it is released.”
Producer Joe Stouffer has been a key component of Balasbas’s evolution. He has previously recorded the likes of bülow, Ria Mae, and Dragonette, all of which have their own distinctive style and direction. Already “Talking In My Sleep” has been a top 40 hit, connecting with influential playlists like Spotify’s “It’s A Bop”, Apple Music’s “New In Pop” and Amazon Music’s “Artist To Watch” while attracting the attention of Sirius XM, Pop Dust and Buzz Music LA.
Ironically, Balasbas initially gave up her musical aspirations and it wasn’t until her early twenties that she rejuvenated her creativity. “It was my mom who initially put me into singing and guitar lessons but I didn’t like them much,” she noted. “If I had been taught popular songs, I would have felt differently but they were trying to teach me theory and all these old songs and I didn’t really take to it so I ended up quitting. I was almost 20 when I picked up my guitar again. It all kind of hit me at once, I realized that this was something I could do, something I wanted to do. I have always liked music but I wasn’t interested in creating my own music until later in life.”
As Balasbas became involved in creating her own material she realized that she didn’t want to go with the flow and emulate other performers. “I was never the kind of person who is trend-based,” she allowed. “I navigate my life the way I want to do it without being rude to anybody. I kind of say what I want to say in my own way and I don’t want the world around me to alter that. I like to think there is only one of me and I am the only one who can make this kind of music.”
So far, A Is For Arrows has maintained a low profile with Balasbas touring in support of hip-hop trio Digable Planets before recording her debut EP. And of course, now with the current pandemic affecting the entire planet, any future touring plans are now on hold for the immediate future.
“Yes, I wish I could tour but this pandemic has been beneficial in some respects,” concluded Balasbas. “I have been able to relax, sleep better, look after my body and work on some new songs that currently reflect where I am at present, there’s a lot of new music about to come out, I have literally been writing song after song, every single day.”