Queenscliff Music Festival is turning up the heat with their 2019 line-up featuring artists from all over the globe in a diverse fusion of flavour. A fitting addition to that line-up is three-time Juno (Canada’s version of the Grammy’s) award-nominated Indo-Tanzanian Canadian singer, Alysha Brilla, who will be showcasing on both Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 November 2019.
A decade into her career, Brilla is known for her Amy Winehouse reminiscent vocals, her experimentation with producing and use of vinyl sampling, and her distinctive melting pot of genres and sound stemming from her mixed cultural background; a subject that she touches on throughout her musical content telling stories of her experience as a mixed-race female in the music industry.
“I think that’s part of my ethos really as a musician,” Brilla says. “I want to be as genuine with my experiences and how I view the world and having done it [music] for quite a bit of time now I know that it is definitely about time to see change in the music industry and on stages and speaking in front of microphones, so I’m both honoured to be playing at music festivals and I also consider it a real celebratory time because of who I make sure I include in my band and what we talk about in my music.”
Identity is a major theme throughout Brilla’s catalogue. Her 2015 International Songwriting Competition winning entry ‘Immigrant’ documented her father’s journey from Tanzania to Canada making comments on diaspora, and in her 2017 album, ‘Rooted’, Brilla explores her own struggle with finding her identity and her attempt to shape it through learning about her heritage and her values.
“One funny thing about being mixed is that neither of my parents know what it’s like to be mixed to that degree, because my mum had two white parents and my dad had two brown parents so they can’t really relate to having parents of completely different cultural backgrounds and that’s something that I’ve reconciled as I got older,” Brilla explains.
“The confusion and dissonance I had socially as a teenager had to do with not having a stronghold on identity and that’s a lot because my identity was not easy to place. Certainly, as I’m older now I know who I am, I know my ancestry, I know my strengths and I know histories on both sides but when I was younger it was something that was very much a mystery and something that I wasn’t educated on.”
Not only does Brilla draw influence from her heritage to form cocktails of sound, but she also blends the music of yesteryear with sounds of today through the art of vinyl sampling.
“I’ve been collecting vinyl probably since I was 20 and I just love it. I love a lot of music that is beautiful on vinyl so I love Billie Holiday and Diana Washington and early kind of 30/40’s jazz music and then I also love East African music, especially those records that I find on vinyl because I definitely think African music is the foundation for all of the music globally and mine is no exception,” she says. “If you listen to these recordings on vinyl from East Africa from the 1970s it is so ahead of its time. It sounds like dance music today and the rhythms are really what I’m inspired by musically.”
“It’s really fun to connect with, and bridge, the music from, at this point, 60 years ago to today.”
Be sure to grab tickets to Queenscliff Music Festival to be blown away by Alysha Brilla and her band in what is set to be an explosive set.
Tickets via www.qmf.net.au/tickets/festival-tickets
Written by Tammy Walters