Alyson Stoner, from the epic Missy Elliott Tribute video, has released her brand new, high anticipated new single titled “Woman”. The song is absolutely amazing! Its energizing, makes you want to dance, soulful, and unique to Alyson’s sound. It fits perfectly with Alyson’s new journey as she closes the door to her past and pushes towards a future. “Woman” is truly a game changer for the triple threat and we had the opportunity to see how she’s changed and what’s next for her!
Katy: I know that you’re going through your own rebirth right now and I’m in the same place of taking a leap doing the same thing. That is why I wanted to interview you.
Alyson Stoner: `That’s awesome and I’m proud of you for this undertaking because I know it’s very demanding and it seems like the odds are against at the moment but it’s about taking it one day at a time, right? You end up learning so much more from applying yourself seriously.
Katy: So, what kind of sparked your rebirth?
Alyson Stoner: You know, I have spent 15 years making family friendly entertainment and I’ve made a habit out of letting myself be number 2 or be in the best friend role and not really speak up for what I’m capable of sharing and doing. I reached a plateau where I recognized that none of my new projects were challenging me. I was too afraid to take risks because I didn’t want to go through the uncomfortable period of not knowing what was next and I made the decision that I didn’t want that to be what defines me anymore. So, it started this personal journey of becoming really honest with myself. I began learning about my weaknesses, my flaws, and my insecurities, and learning about the invisible drivers that had held me back and I had recognized that really, sure the industry is difficult and the competition is ferocious but the biggest obstacle in this development stage is myself. Once I got a grip on that reality I recognized my eyes could see more opportunities right in front of me and I realized that I want to participate in my own dream and that it was going to take a lot more work and a lot more humility because it can be really humiliating to look in the mirror and see where you fall short but it also was this inner vitality that pushed me forward and I knew that there was truth to it and authenticity, there was boldness, and there was the life that I always instructed other people to live so I got a run for my money and now I’m learning to walk with myself.
Katy: Cool! So what helped you break through that? I know for me it’s like kinda difficult to do it on your own and it’s just that your so used to being the way that you were that sometimes you need that extra push. You know what I mean?
Alyson Stoner: Yes! So for me, I had to rewire my attitude towards discomfort and comfort. I had to start embracing the fact that if I feel comfortable today, it’s most most likely because I’m doing something at the same level I’ve already done it at but if I’m willing to become familiar with the discomfort I can accept that this is a growth period. It’s not forever and you learn to live with attention, live in something that is abstract and messy. You’ve gotta learn to let go of some of that rigidity, you’ve gotta let go of some of that excessive control, of the process and it’s important to have people that you ask for help or counsel or direction just for accountability, to check in and see if what you’re pursuing is producing goodness and balance and so it was fear and I realized that even something positive and I think another thing that helped me was adjusting my attitude towards fear. I had to kind of visions, just things that came to mind. One was a small scared little figure huddled in the corner and it was fear and I realized that even though fear’s presence feels like is taking up the entire room, she was actually afraid of herself over in the corner so I thought well, why would I be afraid of something that was afraid of itself? Then that helped sparked some inner dialogue, I realized that actually instead of leaning away from fear to embrace it. Fear knows something about me that I don’t know about myself yet because I don’t want to face it so I imagined sitting down across from fear, casually as peers, and saying, “Hey, let me get to know you. How did you get here? Where did you start? What are you trying to protect me from?” You start learning so much about yourself and the walls that you’ve created to protect yourself and then you start getting a fuller picture that now is not forever and there’s so much ahead and it’s going to take an opening of the mind and an opening of the heart. That’s bravery so you know, I feel like that a lot of compassion for yourself is required as well. What I’m learning is that the biggest thing I needed was compassion for myself because I was so quick to judge the experience, myself, and be so self-critical that you just need a seed of grace when you’re growing.
Katy: I really feel like I’m the same way. I’m a perfectionist myself. I will pick at one thing that I do wrong and say “wait, wait…calm down. it’s not that big of a deal, just be you. it’s okay.”
Alyson Stoner: Yeah and I recognize that also growing up in the industry as a perfectionist we do so many things for the reputation of it. I’m such an overachiever and that’s a strength, you know, that’s a gift and a skill. But there comes a time when if you look into why you’re pushing yourself so much you realize that, “Oh. I’m really scared for anyone to see my imperfections.” Even in the smallest way throughout the day we keep that facade up just so we feel like we’re enough or we’re putting in our time, or we’re valuable, or whatever the driving force is. And then you realize that actually the people we admire most are the ones who embrace failure. These past 2 or 3 years, I’ve recognized like, if I want to do something new I’m gonna have to fail my way through it until I learn and of course as a perfectionist you want to keep going and getting better and so you’re like “Shoot! Now I’m at this crossroads. I either have to start failing which I don’t want to do or have to stay stagnant which I don’t want to do even more!” So, you know the discomfort kind of pushes you forward.
Katy: Oh yeah and I feel like throughout your rebirth there have been so many chances to see that new you with your collaborations, your covers, and you know now we are about to get a taste of who you are through your own original music. So what should we expect to hear?
Alyson Stoner: Well, It’s been about 7 years in the making. My music is evolving with me of course and the newest sounds finally feels like my fingerprint, which is so refreshing. I’m not making the music for a project or a character but I’m combining very rhythmic and percussive sounds from my dance background with international groups so that anyone from around the world can listen to it and respond to it. The lyrics are strong and dynamic and my music is more about me embodying it for me myself before I’m telling someone else a message in it. I really want to live my life and walk the walk and let that be left for interpretation. I think authenticity is infectious and the biggest life instructors for me have been art, which teaches vulnerability, risk, expressions, and the people who let themselves be all sides of humanity. So that’s what I’m aiming for with my music and I think that ‘Woman’ totally encapsulates that.
Katy: Absolutely and I was listening to it and literally as soon as I heard it I was ready to get up and dance. I was like, “Oh my gosh mom, you have to hear this! Just don’t let anyone know I let you hear it!” My mom’s disabled and even she was dancing around the house to it.
Alyson Stoner: Aww! I love that!
Katy: You’ve been writing songs for years. Can you give me a little more insight into your songwriting process?
Alyson Stoner: Songwriting is quite the art form. As a writer and an artist, the best and the first thing you can do is write whatever comes to mind. Let yourself get used to putting words and melodies to your feelings and your thoughts and then as you develop that muscle you recognize that each genre has a different structure. You start playing around with choices within that structure so for me, where I’m at now I’ve developing my pop lyricism instinct and skills. That’s been the most complicated ironically because I think with a lot of complexity and conceptualizing a pop song takes a lot of simplicity and in order to achieve something simple you have to dig through all the layers to find the common thread and singular thought that you’re trying to convey. It’s been really gratifying because I get to look back a week ago, a month ago, a year ago and see my own growth and you can’t put a price on that. It’s so special and so empowering.
Katy: Oh wow. I know that you have 5 new singles coming out so we will see a full album coming out this year or is it still in the making?
Alyson Stoner: We have plenty of songs for an album. What we want to do is let the response from fans dictate the best method. Since I’m an independent artist I don’t have millions of dollars to promote and force my music down people’s throats nor would I want to. So I want to be very responsive to what the fans are enjoying and then figure out the best method for a release but I am excited to say that I’m pretty dang determined this year. There is no more waiting. There is no more shrinking back. I will have more music out and this is just the beginning.
Katy: Do you think there will be a chance to go on tour or perform your music live at all?
Alyson Stoner: Yes! I have a potential tour in China for a month towards the end of the year and the best thing about the music we’re making is that it comes to life fully on stage. That’s a huge part of my artistry: the movement and the overall performance value and entertainment. So I met with my choreographer and we broke down the song as we basically want to start afresh that full package entertainment where the singer can sing just as well as she dances & just as well as she acts. During a certain era being a triple threat was a commonality and now there’s so much competition that we are striving to be masters of one particular area but some of us are crazy enough to say we want to be great in all three! We really can’t wait! It’s going to be so fun and so invigorating. As for movement, I want to be excited to go to work every day, so I don’t want just any standard choreography. I want to be pushing myself so that I’m drawing from the deep well within me and becoming something I wasn’t yesterday.
Katy: Are there any people who you would love to collaborate with in the future?
Alyson Stoner: Like a million people! I think first of all Tori Kelly is the sweetest person!
Katy: Oh, I know! I love her voice!
Alyson Stoner: Oh my gosh yes! It would be amazing to a fun way to collaborate with her. I would love at some point to just be involved and be at a similar level in reach as my friends who are at the top like Selena and Ariana. I would love to be on stage with them as an equal and as a peer, you know, not as a backup dancer.
Katy: Last year you had a trip to Korah with I Pour Life, which looked like it was so much fun! What were some of your favorite memories?
Alyson Stoner: That’s my favorite place in the world, easily. It is such a beautiful depiction of humanity. The people in the village of Korah are not as industrialized or individualized as western culture and so there’s less commercialism and more connection and less superficiality and more sincerity. My favorite memory this trip was seeing a woman, who during the previous was a prostitute and homeless, who is now starting her second business and she is putting her kids through school because she saved enough money. She can afford to buy a home in the capital. So, you’re watching the real vivid, lasting change in a life and it’s the most special kind of relationship when you support someone consistently instead of giving them a one-time handout. That’s the kind of love and patience and commitment it takes to help someone and that’s what we do in Korah. We now have 47 women in the program learning trades, life skills, finances, health care, and child education and the results are transforming the community. The community that was once exiled from society by the government because of leprosy and HIV, they’re now becoming leaders in the community and starting their own businesses and contributing to the economy and the government has to acknowledge their presence now. It’s, in a way, such a Martin Luther King type of thing to do to use nonviolence to accomplish positive change.
Katy: That’s amazing! I Pour Life is truly changing lives and it seems like one of the best ways to give back. How can others get involved?
Alyson Stoner: Well anyone and everyone is welcome to join us! It’s a small group so you can go to ipourlife.org and actually sign up for the trip. WE go several times a year but you can visit the site and learn about what we’re doing. I know that there’s a donation button but if you want to get a little bit more involved you can send an email to Contact Us and just ask, “How can we help? What’s going on?” Even if it’s not directly through I Pour Life, our philosophy is: See a need, Fill a need so, when you’re out on the streets anywhere and everywhere the person in front of you is I Pour Life. My attitude is that I’m the servant of the person in front of me and I think that can really help bridge the gap between people of lifestyles. It helps gap differences. It helps make a difference.
Katy: My last question would be that I’ve noticed that you did a dance workshop recently. Will you be hosting any more of those?
Alyson Stoner: Yes! We are coordinating a few dance workshops possibly for the release of my song. I’m not sure which cities yet but we are steadfastly coordinating dance workshops because it’s a huge passion of mine so you’ll have to stay tuned on the specifics but dancing will always be around! You can’t get me to stop dancing.
Katy: If you come to Dallas, I’ll be the first one to sign up just so you know!
Alyson Stoner: Oh, yay! (laughs) Okay cool noted!
So there you have it. The triple threat will be taking on new challenges while sticking to her roots and evolving even more this year! It was an absolutely pleasure to speak with the “Woman” herself and I look forward to future communications!
Alyson’s “Woman” is available for pre-order today here.
*photo credit: Stephen Busken