Greece,Scotland,Singer Songwriter,Songwriter,Vocals

Blog interview: Katherine Aly

Congratulations on the release of Pariah, how does it feel? 
Thanks very much! It’s been quite a journey putting this song and the video together; it’s one of these songs that my producer and I had to try many different versions of to make it work and as far as the video was concerned, trying to get people together during a pandemic is not the easiest thing as you can imagine… We were actually supposed to have even more folk on set that day, who unfortunately tested positive that week and had to cancel. However, the final result of both the song and its video is something I’m very happy with!

What’s the story behind it? 
Pariah comes from a lot of anger and a feeling of being fed up with situations that are blatantly unfair. I started working on the lyrics before the pandemic, however during 2020 with the BLM movement and general increase in awareness of any types of discrimination, I started feeling more and more annoyed at what’s been happening to me and other people around the world because of who we are; that’s when it became clear where the song was going lyricaly and what I needed to address through it.

The video is very striking, confronting prejudices and inequality head on, how did you come up with the concept for it? 
For this video I really wanted other people to be part of it; to use it as a platform for them to share their stories through the song. So I had a meeting with Stuart Breadner, with whom I’d worked in the past and knew I could trust, and I told him what the song is about and how I’d like it to create a sense of community. We came up with a bunch of ideas but the one that had us both most excited about was for the location of the video to be the human body itself and how we could write and erase slurs on the participants’ bodies to portrait both their realities and the power of them to stand their ground and make a change. Stuart introduced me to the producer of the video, Baz Schmaz, who did an excellent job coordinating everyone and also being in the video!

You’re a singer songwriter from Scotland, originally from Greece how did it all begin for you?
That’s true, I started writing music in Greece, I had a band there and we were doing quite well up until the point when the project was not exciting for everyone in the group anymore, which I took really hard and decided to move abroad. I didn’t know anyone when I first moved to Scotland and had to work from square one in order to establish a network and start on my music here. It was a long process but I now am where I wanted to be and this country is brilliant when it comes to its music scene!

What did you listen to growing up?
I listen to classical music a lot and also Greek folk music and I think you can hear both of those in my earliest work. Sometimes the way I sing still has Easter European elements to it, which I quite like to be honest as I think it makes my style unique! 

Your music has been featured on BBC Introducing and Amazing Radio how did it feel having your tracks picked up like that?
It’s very flattering to hear all the wonderful comments my tracks get on air by people that I really admire. And I also liked how Pariah got some really good insights on its message apart from compliments about the music itself. This kind of support is very integral for emerging artists like me and I’m grateful to pieces for the exposure!

You have gigs how excited are you to play on a scale of 1-10?
I’d say with 10 being the highest I’m probably 100! We’ve missed this so much… For me it all comes down to this ultimately; being able to share my songs with other people live, connect with them, sing and dance with them! There’s nothing like it. I’m also excited to be playing on stage along with my wonderful bandmates, Alex Shedlock, Joe Djaelani and Dimitris Skouras, with whom I rearrange my songs to make them more powerful and upbeat for the live version of them and take the audience by surprise each time!

You played the Hidden Door Festival, what was it like?
Hidden Door Festival is literally one of the best events in Edinburgh every year! It’s remarkable how the entire thing is organised and run by volunteers and I was truly honoured to be asked to be part of their bill this year. They did an excellent job transforming Granton Gasworks into a beautiful multi-art space and my band and I had the best time on stage!

COVID impacted the creative industry what has kept you motivated?
Writing music is my coping mechanism so in a way it’s not that I was trying to stay motivated, it was more me trying to survive the pandemic through music that resulted in more content for me to share with people. However – and I can’t stress that enough – there is no right or wrong scenario here; there are many artists that completely stopped because they had to focus on other things rather than music during lockdown and that’s absolutely fine; we all work at our own pace and take breaks when we need to, as we should!

2020 was a time to reflect what did you learn about yourself?
That I had a lot of issues to resolve! When I released Glow & Ignite in July, a song which is about mental health, I started talking openly about the fact that I’ve been in therapy since May 2020. I learned and accepted the fact that I needed help and I’m very proud that I went and got it because it wasn’t an easy decision. I’m in a better place now but there’s still tons of work to be done.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Ok I’ll give you the top 10 on my Liked Songs list on Spotify:
Still here – Hector Plimmer, Alexandra Hmilton-Ayres
Underwaterfall – Bearcubs
Burning Hour – Jedu Heart
The Garden Interlude – Little Simz 
Pomegranate – Sergio Diaz De Rojas
All That I Needed – Gabriel Giggord, Lizzie Reid
Midnight – Lianne Le Havas
Orgoned – Kiasmos
Gimme All Your Love – Alabama Shakes
New Manhattan – Joy Crookes

What are you looking forward to next?
I’m looking forward to releasing more music, playing more shows and connecting with more people – simple as that!

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